How could a loving God allow a drunk driver to kill my friend’s teenage son and walk away unharmed from the burning wreck? Why is a mother of two small children allowed to die of cancer? Why does He send horrific storms to wipe out tens of thousands of innocent lives?
While I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I do believe we live in a world governed by laws of nature, logic, and the immeasurable love of an infinite Creator. Standing on this unshakable ground, I offer some possible insights into questions of this sort.
God loves you more than you can possibly comprehend, and not only you but that teenage son, the drunk driver, the sick mother and her children, and every other suffering soul on the planet. His love for us governs His actions at a level we are not able to understand, though if we think and pray on it enough, we can catch some glimmers of light around the edges.
When someone rails at God for letting a bad thing happen to them or someone they love, they are often implying that God should have stopped it from happening. Let’s think that through with the drunk driver example. At what point should God step in? Are we thinking that He should cancel someone’s free will, such as forcing the teenager not to get in his car, or making the other guy a robot, coercing the muscles in his arms so that he reaches for juice instead of beer? Or is our desire to have the laws of nature suspended, so that the speeding cars pass unharmed through each other, or magically swerve apart? Should the liquor miraculously not make the man drunk?
We would probably be glad to have any one of these things happen to spare us unbearable grief. But that raises the issue of who gets this special treatment. If God is going to run things according to our wishes, should He deprive all alcoholics and murderers of free will? How about abusive husbands and child molesters? Thieves? Tax cheats? Speeders? Gossipers? Should God wrench my foot off the gas pedal if I’m going too fast? Or clamp my mouth shut on my tongue when I’m about to make a snarky comment on my co-worker’s outfit? All sinful behavior has consequences and is going to cause someone pain. Where do we, playing God, draw the line? What about physics? Should God only suspend natural laws when it will benefit us personally, or for everyone in the world…and could we live in such a world, where laws of nature may or may not be reliable at any given moment or place? Heat raises the temperature of water today, so I can have tea. But the gravity seems spotty—not sure if it’s safe to get out of bed. I vote for free will and reliable laws of physics, all the time.
Take a breath.
Bad things mostly happen because of someone’s sin. It might be the immediate sin of drinking and driving. It might be the cumulative sin of businesses dumping toxins into our air and water over several decades, causing cancers to abound. It might be the centuries-long national sin of pushing the poorest people in a country to live in shacks next to a known-to-be-violent ocean. We don’t treat each other or our planet right, and our failure has consequences. Outrage is a perfectly reasonable response, even rage toward God. He can handle it, He knows our pain intimately, He has provided the solution. He tells us the solution in His message to us, and we are free to take it or leave it. But God is real, and He is sovereign and all-powerful whether or not we choose to believe it. Thus, paying attention to what He says about these matters is critical if we want to understand them and live with hope and a purpose instead of desolate grief and hopeless despair.
What is the solution? If you want to find solid ground to stand on, and hope, and life-changing love, enter into a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. This will make you a new creature. God will dwell in you, which will enable you to truly comprehend Scripture, and learn how to treat yourself, others, and our planet. Learn how to endure through troubles. Learn about the big picture…the plan God set in motion before the beginning of time and which is still being accomplished, step by step.
This phase of our history, saturated with sin and pain, will come to an end and the next glorious adventure will be free of tears and grief, suffused with glory and joy. Access to God’s power, hope, perfection and love is available to you. You just have to ask.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I'd be glad to hear your thoughts on this in the forum thread about this article.