As Christians, we’ve all been there, wrestling through an event in our or someone elses life that went horribly wrong. The big question always going back to the root – why would God let this happen?
There’s much controversy behind this issue as many will notice when listening to a debate between a christian and an athiest that at many times it’s prompted me to ask the big “Why?” question.
So as Bible-Believing-Christians, we hit a (supposed) cross-road. One way says:
“If God were all powerful, why didn’t He stop this? He must not love me.”
“If God were an all-loving God, then he would’ve stopped this. So He must not be that powerful.”
I (and I’m sure the vast-majority of christians) have wrestled through this deeply. This isn’t something we should flippantly skim over.
So what can we make of this? They honestly seems like very potent questions to test ones faith with.
So let’s get into this.
Firstly, we must understand where we get our standards from. The statements above obviously assume a standard of judging whether something is “bad” or not. So what’s that standard?
-If (apart from God) it were by a persons own conscience, then who would be the “right” standard? It would all be very relative. As Dostoyevsky (A Russian Philosopher) once famously said, “without God, all is permitted”. And it makes sense when everyone is their own moral absolute. No one gains the high ground.
-Also, Government. What if we make the government our ultimate standard? Does it check out? In some ways I think it could help people be less barbarous (as it has in the past) but it still doesn’t answer the question of absolute, meaning that the government can change its mind, and it is ultimately created after what individuals collectively think is the “right” way to go. I could give more ways people “make” morals, but not today.
So similar to before, we must ask, is there a right and wrong? Does it even exist? Honestly, the logical conclusion is, if God doesn’t exist, then all your suffering is just another ultimately meaningless moment in your life before you die. You have no reason to believe that what you went through was “wrong” because you have giver of any standard of “right”. In our subjective world, we must have an outside (transcendent) moral law-giver to make sense of anything, both good and bad!
So we now come to the conclusion that excluding God doesn’t get us anywhere. We end up in a depressing vortex of opinion. Nothing makes sense.
So what if God is real? Does the picture of Him painted in the Bible match up to our tough questions?
Well one thing we cannot glean from our Bible study is that He doesn’t love us. We see God repeatedly protecting us from ourselves, and ultimately saving us in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, enduring infinitely worse pain and suffering than any person ever has. This is God.
So to say God can’t sympathize with out pain is completely false. (Heb 4:15)
We have a God who loves us enough to save us. So we can’t say He doesn’t love us. So that sets one thing straight. God loves us, it’s undeniable in scripture.
Next, we know for a fact God hasn’t stopped many terrible tragedies when, biblically we know he could have.
So what can we make of this?
-We can’t assume that we deserve good, for one. The reason being in the beginning (Genesis 3, the fall) we picked evil, and we got what we deserved. Separation from God.
-Also, God makes “All things work together for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). So God puts us through trials for our good. I know it doesn’t feel that good, but Christ can help you through it, growing you to look more like Him. However hard it is.
-We must also realize that it’s our fault for sin. We sinned against God. God may have allowed it, but that doesn’t make Him the author of it, God allows things to grow us through the fire. As a great song by Trip Lee says, “Pressure creates diamonds and fire refines gold”. The psalmist also says, “he is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him”.
So God loves us deeply, to save us despite our total depravity.
So He really takes those two tough concepts and says, “You don’t deserve it, but I love you so i’ll save you” and, “I could’ve ended this tragedy, but I’m walking by your side, growing you through it”.
We have to remember that through it all God is for us, not against us. He’s our “ever-present help in trouble” and He said we “will have trouble in this world, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”
Though we can’t answer all the questions, God told us we should take heart through the hurt, through the pain remembering that Christ is with us, despite us. And that is very encouraging i think!
Thanks for reading! I’d suggest picking up “Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts” by Jerry Bridges. It’s a great book looking into the soveriegnty of God through trial, and His strength to help us through.
Also “Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering” By Timothy Keller.
Check out Keller’s sermon called: “If God is Good, why is their so much evil in the world?“.
Hope you’re encouraged!