Some people are born lame, some blind, some rich and some poor. The Chinese believe that this has much to do with our previous lives. If we were someone who stole, we would be born without arms in this life, for example. How do Christians explain this?
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The first point I would make is that Christianity emphatically does not subscribe to the idea of reincarnation; of individuals having lived previous lives; or of an individual's condition in this life being a consequence of actions in a prior existence (Hebrews 9:27). I would say that the Christian teaching is that all unfairness or disadvantages such as those cited in the question are the result of sin (that is, disobedience to God) -- the ways in which sin has corrupted the perfect world that God originally created through the rebellion and subsequent activity of Satan and his demonic followers, as well as the effect of the sinful or evil actions and choices of human beings. Ever since humanity first fell into sin by deciding to disobey God (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:1-19), humans have been by nature at enmity with God. The first result of this was that humans became subject to death and eternal separation from God, rather than the immortality and everlasting fellowship with God that God had intended for them. In addition, their natural inclinations and desires became to disobey Him, and to pursue their own self-interest at the expense of others. This has resulted in conditions such as poverty, slavery and other forms of racism, cruelty, economic exploitation, and unequal distribution of resources. Sin has also corrupted the earth itself through the presence of disease-causing agents, pollution, natural disasters, birth defects, and seemingly random events that bring death and destruction (Luke 13:1-5). These conditions occur not as a judgment against any one individual's sin, but as a product of the fallen, sinful world in which humans live, and the corporate sin of the whole of humanity. Because God is holy and sinless by nature, He cannot tolerate the presence of sin, or allow it to go unpunished. To deal with the problem and effects of human sin, and in an act of pure love and grace (undeserved favor or mercy) toward fallen humanity that would once again allow humans to live eternally in His presence, God incarnated Himself in Jesus Christ, who was both fully, truly God, and also fully, truly human. Jesus lived a sinless life, and then (although He had done nothing to deserve God's judgment) voluntarily took upon Himself God's punishment for the whole of humanity's sins from eternity past to eternity future by dying on the cross. He then rose from the dead, demonstrating that His death had fully satisfied God's judgment against sin, and allowing all those who place their faith in His death and resurrection as the payment for the sins that they commit to have eternal life in God's presence. One might say that it is also "unfair" for sinful humans to receive eternal life, not by any merit or actions of their own, but through faith in Christ. But this "unfairness" demonstrates the inexpressible magnitude of the love and grace of God.
"How do Christians explain the reason for the seeming unfairness or someone being born with a health issue or disadvantage?" The answer to your question may be found in Luke 4:3-4 when the devil tried to tempt Christ to turn the stone into bread. At this point Jesus hasn't eaten anything in forty days; he was hungry. Being hungry is a physical concern, and "bread"/ food is a physical need. But pay attention carefully at the substance of Jesus' reply: "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God". So let us be reminded that everyone's faith will be tested (James 1:2-4). But "blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled" (Mat. 5:6). "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Cor. 12:8-9).
John 9 relates the event of Jesus healing a man blind from birth, and being asked by His disciples, "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" This Scripture shows us that tragic handicaps like illness and poverty are not a result of some cosmic karma or reincarnation revenge, but part of natural life living in a condition of imperfection brought into existence as the result of Original Sin that corrupted nature and humanity. Romans 8:18-39. In this passage, Paul explains the human ruin but also the human remedy. The scriptures tell us how the Creator created everything in perfection with no sickness or handicaps, but because humans chose to sin or miss God's mark He had set, spiritual death was the result, and with spiritual death came physical decay or imperfections. When one is separated from the source of perfection the results of imperfection bring unwanted sufferings. The source of perfection didn't abandon humans but provided another way to regain perfection. That Way is Jesus Christ. John 14:6.
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