Although all people are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights that include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as stated in the Declaration of Independence of the United States, all people are not born with equal attributes.
People are born with big differences in their intellects and aptitudes, their physical abilities and features, and their personalities. Furthermore, while most people manifest “normal” (i.e., generally acceptable) behavior, other people are born with mental instability such as a bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia. These differences seem to be unfair.
Why did God not create people so that everyone has similar, if not exactly the same, attributes? Why are some people blessed with favorable attributes that enable them to have a relatively easy life, whereas other people seem to have been cursed with unfavorable attributes (or afflictions) that cause them to have a difficult life? Does the Bible provide any insights in regard to such matters?
[Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible, unless noted otherwise.]
The Bible indicates that more will be expected of people who have been blessed. Luke 12:48b declares, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” This scripture seems to imply that people who have less financial wealth and/or spiritual understanding will not be judged as harshly as those who have more money and/or greater spiritual understanding. However, this scripture may also be applicable to attributes, so that people with fewer favorable attributes will not be judged as severely as those who have more favorable attributes. Surely, if God takes into consideration differences in financial wealth and/or spiritual understanding, He will also take into consideration differences in attributes!
As with the prior scripture, the parable of the talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30, indicates that every person is responsible to their Master (i.e., God) for what has been entrusted to them, whether it be a little or much more. And, again we think there is reason to believe that this includes abilities (or attributes), as well as financial resources and/or spiritual understanding.
In any case, many people who are born with significant unfavorable attributes (or afflictions) may also be born with favorable attributes that enable them to have a successful life. A famous example is Helen Keller, who was born both blind and deaf, yet she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and became an author, political activist, and lecturer. Another famous example is Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time, who was born with dyslexia. Yet another famous example is Thomas Edison, arguably America’s greatest inventor, who was hyperactive and had a learning disability.
The Bible also indicates that God sometimes allows some people to have one or more unfavorable attributes (or afflictions) so He can subsequently demonstrate His grace. In regard to a blind man whose name is not given, John 9:1-3 says,
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
In the case of this man, he was born blind so that God could subsequently demonstrate His grace through Jesus Christ’s healing of the man, enabling the man to see for the first time in his life.
The fact is that virtually everyone has unfavorable attributes (or afflictions), although some people have more and/or more serious unfavorable attributes than most other people. And, some people are born with afflictions, whereas others experience afflictions later in life.
With regard to a man named Job, the Bible states in Job 2:3,
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
Job did not suffer afflictions that resulted from his being born with unfavorable attributes (or afflictions). In fact, Job had been greatly blessed with a fine family and an abundance of material possessions. However, God tested Job’s trust in Him by allowing Job to be severely afflicted in several ways. And, Job passed each of the tests.
In any case, people who have learned how to deal with their afflictions can be a source of encouragement to other people who are having to deal with their own afflictions or other difficulties.
Regardless of whether or not we believe that God determines every person’s attributes before that person is even conceived, there may be many occasions when we will not understand why some people lack even the basic attributes that are necessary to function normally. In such instances, it might be helpful to keep in mind Isaiah 55:8-9, which declares,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
And, scripture passages such as Deuteronomy 32:4 can give us confidence that God will always do what is just (i.e., righteous).
Although it is difficult to understand why some people are much more blessed with favorable attributes than most people and, conversely, other people are much less blessed with favorable attributes than most people, it is important for us to trust that God has prudent reasons for allowing such disparities. Believing that God loves us, as indicated by a number of biblical scriptures, including Romans 5:8 and 8:39, should encourage us to trust Him, even if we have some attributes that we would prefer not to have and/or do not have other attributes that we would like to have.