I know Kevin promised updates on the G90X on Monday’s. Well…Kevin is not here, and I felt like I needed to post this. I will give an update tomorrow on the G90X.
This piece is a companion piece to “Is God Evil”. Just to recap… Two common arguments used by atheists and agnostics alike is that God is either evil because He is in control of everything and allows bad things to happen or He is not in control. In the “Is God Evil” blog I refuted both of those points using God’s Word as the foundation. So the natural response…If God is in control, and God is not evil…why then would He allow these things to happen?
I first began to think about this topic because I had my own motivations to study it. I was curious about why God would allow a recession of this magnitude and other bad things I saw in the world around me. I also was faced with a discussion with an agnostic/atheist who said they refused to believe in a God that would allow such horrible things to happen. This gets to the heart of the matter for a number of atheists and agnostics. Why?
Recently I had a conversation with a woman that I have worked with for nearly a year. Somehow during the conversation she had mentioned something about a trial, so I inquired. It turns out that her son had been murdered. The story is painful. All I could think about was what my response would be had something like this had happened to my kids. Anyway, her son had been shot because of an argument that went out of control. The guy that shot him then proceeded to pour gasoline on him and set him on fire. As she is telling the story she begins to cry, and then the most amazing words came out of her mouth… “I am so grateful that he was saved. I know that I will see him again.” Amazing!! Here, this mother had lost a son, in the most extreme way, and was still grateful to God.
So why would God allow this to happen to her child? Why would God allow a child to be raped (as David pointed out on several occasions from the “Is God Evil?” post)? We could look at the cause of evil in the world today. How the fall of man has allowed sin/disease into the world. I would rather focus on the “why?” as opposed to the “how?” Perhaps the “how?” can be addressed in a future post.
The first thing that has to be said when looking at the question “why” is that we have no way of knowing why God does the things that he does. As smart as we all like to think we are we have no idea. The perfect illustration to this is the book of Job. To understand what I am talking about you have to understand Job. Job was upright and blameless. He had not committed any specific sin when God allowed Satan to strike at him. Thus Job (and his friends) asked the question….why? Why would God do this to him? Now Job claimed he had done nothing wrong, and if he only had the opportunity to present his case to God he would be able to explain this. Job friends said that he had to have done something wrong…otherwise why would God punish him? Neither was right. God responds in Chapters 38 – 42. God challenges Job’s by asking him a series of questions. Basically God asks Job…”Who are you?” He does this in a sarcastic manner. Jobs response in 42:2-3 shows the lesson to be learned. There are things we cannot comprehend, things we will not understand. God makes this point very clear to Job, and Job gets it. What is the first answer to “why?” We will never know until God reveals it to us.
There are additional answers that we have been able to identify from the New Testament that allow us to understand why God would allow these things to happen. In my comments to the “Is God Evil?” post I identified a few.
The question was asked then…”Does God really need to allow these things to happen to display Himself?” The answer is yes. Yes, He does.
– It allows a witness
We draw this example from Christ. 1 Peter 5:1 is an example of how suffering allows us to be effective witnesses. Peter watched the suffering of Christ. For this reason he was able to be an effective witness to the event. Can you speak to suffering, if you have not seen the misery that comes with it? Can you speak to anything with wisdom, if you have not participated?
– It develops our capacity to comfort others
Look at 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Paul is making two distinct points. First, that God is the father of compassion and comfort. God will always be there to comfort us. Also Paul makes the great point that the suffering we endure will create patient endurance and allow us to share our comfort. Seriously, who is more able to provide more comfort in times of suffering? Those who have not dealt with any, or those who have? This was Paul’s point.
– It is a training tool
Suffering allows us to grow. James 1:2-4 tells us that trials will help us persevere. The Bible verse here says it all. “… that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” See the parallel passage in Romans 5:3-5 “3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
– It displays the awesome power of God’s grace
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 displays this point. Here Paul is under attack, and describes the thorn in his flesh (suffering). Paul pleaded with God three times. God’s response? My grace is sufficient. God did not tell Paul, okay I will make it all stop. God responded by saying, I get it, and my grace is enough for you during these trials.
It is hard to endure or even watch the evil and suffering that exists in the world. How do you, from any perspective answer the question, “Why would God allow that to happen?” Rape, child molestation, murder, genocide etc… Look at the above answers. As painful as it is for us, our faith has to reside in God, otherwise…what else is there? Man? Randomness? Chance? These things happen for any number of reasons that will be beyond our control. We must, in all circumstances, know that we must continue to have faith in God.