26 February 2013

Why Does God Let Horrible Things Occur?

Since we believe that God is the author of this planet and is sovereign over it, it's inevitable that we ask where he is when these terrible things take place.

I think the Bible answers that over and over again from different angles and in different ways. We find our first answer, of course, in the book of Genesis, in which we're told of the fall of humanity. God's immediate response to the transgression of the human race against his rule and authority was to curse the earth and human life. Death and suffering entered the world as a direct result of sin. We see the concrete manifestation of this in the realm of nature, where thorns become part of the garden and human life is now characterized by the sweat of the brow and the pain that attends even the birth of a baby. This illustrates the fact that the world in which we live is a place that is full of sorrows and tragedy.

But we must never conclude that there's a one-to-one correlation in this life between suffering and the guilt of the people on whom tragedies fall. If there were no sin in the world, there would be no suffering. There would be no fatal accidents, no random shootings. Because sin is present in the world, suffering is present in the world, but it doesn't always work out that if you have five pounds of guilt, you're going to get five pounds of suffering. That's the perception that the book of Job labors to dispel, as does Jesus' answer to the question about the man born blind (John 9:1-11).

On the other hand, the Bible makes it clear that God lets these things happen and in a certain sense ordains that they come to pass as part of the present situation that is under judgment. He has not removed death from this world. Whether it's what we would consider an untimely death or a violent death, death is part of the nature of things. The only promise is that there will come a day when suffering will cease altogether.

The disciples asked Jesus about similar instances—for example, the Galileans' blood that was mingled with the sacrifices by Pilate or the eighteen people who were killed when a temple collapsed. The disciples asked how this could be. Jesus' response was almost severe. He said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish," again bringing the question back to the fact that moral wickedness makes it feasible for God to allow these kinds of dreadful things to take place in a fallen world.


~ Excerpted from Now, That’s a Good Question! Copyright © 1996 by R. C. Sproul

13 comments:

Matt said...

And it is entirely possible for those who are evil to not seemingly suffer (from our perspective) at all while on this Earth, and those who adhere to God's word to suffer greatly (as we saw in the book of Job)

In Luke 16:19-31, we see the rich man, who without God in his life, live a life filled with the finer things die and woke up in torment. In comparison, Lazarus, from the observation that he woke up in paradise, did have God in his life, but was poor and miserable his whole life while on this earth. As I mentioned above, he died and woke up in Paradise.

This just goes to the point that, while for some of us in the life things may not seem fair, it is the end result... our final destination that we need to focus on. God's judgment is ALWAYS the great equalizer.

Thanks, Paul, for this. Very thought provoking.

Rev. Paul said...

You're welcome, Matt; good points you make there. As Matthew 5:45 says, the rain falls on the just and unjust, alike.

ProudHillbilly said...

There's also the fact that suffering can be an opportunity for grace. When my grandmother was at the end of her life her roommate was a woman who had been in a so-called vegetative coma for years. I watched as the day nurse cheerfully cared for her, chatting away at her, always kind, always treating the seemingly unaware woman as a full human being. Which she was. And she was providing a path for grace-filled living for the nurse even while in a condition that many people would define as lacking worth.

Rev. Paul said...

PH, I believe what you're saying is "And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

You're exactly right. God can make the foulest things come out very, very well. :^)

Cathy said...

I appreciate this post Rev. Paul, and I hope that I may safely share that I am a 'wanna-be believer'.

Suffering is truly the most difficult issue in any discussion about faith.

I do know this with certainty:

People of faith know goodness and live their lives according to laws and wisdom passed down through the ages. Even as a fallen-away Catholic married to the resentful son of a sadistic minister . . . the call of faith is a bright candle flickering always on a far horizon.

Rev. Paul said...

Cathy, I believe I understand. One thing I know above all else: God loved us before we were born, He knows all about us & everything that ever will happen to us ... and continues to love us, just as we are, despite our best efforts to sometimes push Him away.

He loves us, warts & all, and never ever demands anything of us, except to respond when He calls us. Too many are waiting for something ... anything ... to get "better" before they answer, and the truth is that God just wants to love on us.

Old NFO said...

Thanks for the reminder...

PioneerPreppy said...

Nicely posted and a great discussion. Thank you!!!

Rev. Paul said...

NFO, you're welcome. It's always my prayer that posts like this will help someone.

Preppy, there are some good folks out there, and it seems many have found their way here - for which I'm grateful. And you're welcome.

Cathy said...

Thank you. That is truly beautiful.

Rev. Paul said...

It's truly my pleasure, Cathy. I hope it helps.

Jenny said...

Thank you Reverend.

Rev. Paul said...

You're welcome. :)