One of the objections frequently heard from people who reject God’s existence is that a loving supreme being would never allow bad things to happen to good people. Consequently when children meet untimely deaths, when apparently innocent people are randomly murdered or brutalized, when the neighborhood “good guy” loses his job, some feel that this is proof that God is merely a myth. Or worse, that God is a vindictive, cruel chess player who manipulates our lives for his entertainment and to our peril.
Similarly, others look at the troubles in their lives and wonder why God is punishing them by allowing (or worse arranging) pain and suffering when they simply do not deserve it. After all, they attend church, don’t cheat on their income taxes, and work at the food pantry every Thanksgiving.
While God certainly knows us and is a presence in all we say and do (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Jeremiah 1:5) , it is mankind that sought independence and free will, and who by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, set his fate by believing that he could be his own god and control his own destiny. We rejected God’s steady hand in our lives, one that was poised to ensure a life of beauty, peace and abundance, and instead believed Satan’s lie that our lives were our own. Consequently each and every one of us has become the captain of our own ship, and every decision we make, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day and year after year, impacts us, our families, and those around us. These decisions often set the stage for tragedies later, and creep up when we least expect it. If we stop and ponder why we have a certain trouble, the reality is that it can be traced back in most every case to something we said or did, or chose not to do sometime in the past. Whether it was to avoid a health check-up, to embrace a friend who brought nothing but temptation and sin, or to fail to resist the urge to say or do something that set a stone path for us towards a fall. We wanted to be the masters of our destiny, and the consequences are frequently harmful. Meanwhile God sits on the sidelines like a loving parent who has tried to raise an obedient child, offering truths and guidance we reject daily because we “know it all.” When I realize the parallels between the parenting of my own children and my relationship with God it can sometimes cause me to weep.
“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God” John 3:19-21
I cannot pretend to give an answer in this post to everyone who has experienced a senseless tragedy. There are truly some tragedies that are a mystery, and we may never understand them until the day we face our creator in heaven. What I can say is that if you are facing troubles, no matter what they are, why not embrace God and seek His face? Take your problems to Him, ask for forgiveness and ask for guidance. What loving parent would reject that plea? I have done some terrible things in my long life. I have abandoned people, used people, lied, stolen, manipulated, acted selfishly, been abusive, failed to be compassionate, and the list goes on and on. However God gave me the ability, like He gave you, to see my sins as a stumbling block to successful living. When I stumble I reach out to steady myself and ask for forgiveness, mercy and guidance. It does not always make the pain and hurt go away, a refiners fire is sometimes needed to educate and correct us, but inevitably I come out of the situation stronger, wiser, and more devoted to my faith than before. I also am amazed at the patience of a God who in spite of our rebelliousness, remains loving, compassionate and steadfast in His desire to bring us back on track. The salvation of the Cross and the sacrifice of Christ are the most dramatic examples of that love and compassion.
“Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” Genesis 8:21
“In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Whatever you are facing today know that He is with you not against you, that He is waiting for you to ask Him into your life to start you on the road to recovery and restoration!