A man slashes the throats of three little girls, killing two of them. Where is God?
Middle East soldiers retaliate against their enemies; children are slain in the crossfire.
Where is God? A drunken driver sways to the wrong side of the road; two young people die. Where is God?
This question hangs over our morning newspaper, the evening TV news, and certainly in the hearts of those personally affected, and who remain after the news of their tragedy is replaced by someone else's horror story.
Is it legitimate to ask, “God, if you are a God of love, why do You allow the innocent to suffer? Couldn’t You do something? Why, God?”
Job is the typical Bible example. This godly man suffered every loss imaginable: his health, wealth and children. His friends turned against him. So did his wife.
But God lets us see the spiritual warfare behind the scenes. Satan challenged God saying that Job would never trust Him if He hadn’t blessed him with health, wealth, etc. The faith of God is stronger than suffering. Job stood firm and was rewarded.
Not everyone has that kind of faith. Neither is suffering always a test for it. What is going on when bad things happen to seemingly innocent people?
First, Scripture shows the origin of “bad.” It says sin is at the root of murders, wars and inconsideration of others. It is sin that brings the young to an early grave. It might not be their own, but it is somebody’s sin.
Romans 5 says that sin entered the world through one man and now all people are tainted with it, bent to ignore God and go their own way. Psalm 82:1-5 affirms that because people hurt other people, the world has been thrown off course. Further evidence of sin permeating the human condition is that many people turn around and blame God for the state of things.
Someone might suggest that God should get rid of all sinners — surely that would take care of the evil in the world. However, Romans 3 says there are “none good, none that seek after God, none that do right. All have sinned.” If God dealt with evil that way, the planet would be quickly without inhabitants.
Another suggestion is that God intervene with the actions of man and stop innocents from being harmed. Interesting idea. If carried through, that would mean that there would never by any consequences from evil. In other words, if a man decided he didn’t like the way someone looks and proceeded to re-arrange that person’s face, God would have to erase the pain and heal the bruises and broken bones. He would also have to change the victim’s heart so he would not retaliate. And while He is at it, why not just change the heart of the first man before all this even happens? Then there would be no evil and no consequences to worry about.
In that little illustration lies the solution that God HAS offered to us. He WILL fix sinful hearts. The only catch — He doesn’t zap it on anyone, and each person can be responsible for only his or her own sin.
The first man, the one who doesn’t like the looks of the other, has to decide that he wants to be changed and wants to turn from taking matters into his own hands. He has to desire God’s will, for himself. It is the same for the second man. He has to want to keep peace, want to leave revenge with God, and want a new heart.
“No way,” you say? Without God’s intervention, that is exactly it. There is no way anyone desires to “turn the other cheek” or turn from ruling his or her own life. Without God putting a desire for righteousness in the human heart, sin and the chaos it causes, would be far greater than it is, far more horrifying.
God has “done something” about the root of suffering. He didn’t turn His back on the world. The world, for the most part, has turned its back on God and spurned His offer of forgiveness and new life. If anyone is to blame when the innocent suffer, it surely isn’t God.