As a Christian, it can be difficult to reconcile all the evil that happens in the world with an all knowing, all powerful loving God who could stop it if He wants, but chooses not to do so. If our hearts break for the innocent children who were senselessly murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, how can a God who loves us not feel the same way? If any of us had known what Adam Lanza was going to do, we would have done anything in our power to stop him, so why didn’t God? All too often we tend to quote some arcane scripture, chalk it up to God “moving in mysterious ways” and shrug our shoulders. While none of us have the authority to speak for God, there are plausible explanations for why God would choose not to intervene to prevent a tragedy.
1) He gives us free will: God didn’t make robots who were designed to execute His will. Instead He gave us the freedom to make our own decisions. He lets us choose between being right and wrong, good and evil or wise and foolish. We can follow Him or scorn Him. We can obey Him or ignore Him. We can take His advice or go our own way. It’s our choice…and sometimes choices have terrible consequences. But, of course, how could it be otherwise and still be a choice?
2) It’s a necessity for faith: “If God wanted to remove all doubt about his existence, He could do so — but, He doesn’t because the cornerstone of Christianity is faith. Imagine what would happen if bad things DIDN’T happen to good people. What if when an airline crashes, only the non-Christians die while all the believers walk away unscathed? What if the moment someone becomes an atheist, he is immediately struck by lightning and killed? What if every rape, murder, robbery, and painful illness only happens to non-believers? If that were the case, then no faith would be required to be a Christian.”
3) He has a different perspective: Our God gave “His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Imagine being in his place as Jesus was jeered, whipped and had to suffer and die in agony on the cross. What would run through your mind as your Son was crucified and uttered the words, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” when you had the power to free Him, heal His wounds and strike down His tormentors at will. Our God made that sacrifice for each and every one of us so that we could be saved. That’s how much He cares for us. Yet and still, God has known the hopes, hurts, loves and secret dreams of all of us who’ve come into this world, lived our lives and passed on. After watching billions of people He cares for die and shouldering responsibilities we can’t even begin to fathom, God doesn’t see the world through the same eyes as we do.
4) We often turn to God in times of tragedy: One of the sad truths of human nature is that when we’re happy, healthy, loved, secure and our pockets are full, most of us think we already have all the answers and don’t turn to God. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” It’s not that God wants us to ache, causes it, or wishes for it to happen, but He realizes that’s often what spurs us in His direction. A long pleasant existence full of leisure, contentment and pleasure that ends with a trip to Hell because there was never a need to reach for God is a failed life.
5) Ultimately it’s about Heaven, not earth: What we do with our lives is no small matter. We should try to make the most of our talents, do what we can for others and make the most of what we have. But, it’s worth remembering that Billy Graham was right when he said, “My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” Our lives seem long and crucially important because it’s all we can see, hear, and touch, but God knows there’s an eternity that stretches beyond our time here. It can be incredibly painful when our time here ends with those we care about, but God gets to see the reunions in the next lifetime.