Have you ever noticed the tendency that we have to blame God when bad things happen?
Now that is not to say that He is not partly liable. He is God after all. If he can turn water into wine, protect Daniel in the lion’s den, or part the Red Sea, then He is powerful. And if He has the power to stop a tragedy yet allows it, then we cannot just say that He is not partly responsible.
If we did not want to lay the blame at His feet, we would have to say that He is not all-powerful. But if God is not all powerful, then is He really God? Or we could say that He doesn’t care. But if He doesn’t care, then is He loving? We could just say that we live in a fallen world and that the tragedy around us is just the consequences of the fallen state of everything. But then why does God intervene and do miracles at some times and not others?
Imagine that you were walking down the sidewalk and saw a toddler playing in the road. You looked around and did not see the kid’s mom or dad anywhere. Further down the road, you saw a semi-truck going full speed. You had plenty of time to safely get the toddler out of the road and to safety, yet you also know that the semi would not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting the kid. So you decided, despite having the power to stop the situation, to just stand there and enjoy the gory show. Would you be at fault for that kid’s death? Is God at fault for the suffering in the world?
Yet we read in the writings of John, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” [1 John 4:7-8 (ESV)].
How can we reconcile all the pain in our lives and the suffering in the world with a God who is loving? How do we watch footage of the Japanese tsunami destroying house after house and still say that God is loving? How do we see starving children in Africa and say that God is loving? How do we deal with the personal pain of the death of a loved one and say that God is still loving?
Often, we don’t. We ignore the question. As if by ignoring the difficult dilemma, everything will be the way it was before the disaster or tragedy struck. We continue to go through the religious motions, saying all of the right religious sayings while inside we no longer truly believe that God is good. Oh, we continue to give lip service to that religious supposition, but, deep inside, we have stopped believing it. The idea that God is good has just become an intellectual concept that we utter without meaning while ignoring the life changing impact that truly believing it can have on our lives.
Other times, we don’t ignore the question but conclude that the best course of action is to hate God or pretend that the God we blame for causing our tragedy does not exist. After all, if God is powerful even to stop tragedies yet allows them to happen, we know that he shares responsibility. Maybe not direct, but at least indirect. What can we conclude about a God who allows tragedies to happen all around him - tragedies of the worst kind - yet has the power to stop them?
Maybe we are looking at it all wrong. Are we being bamboozled by the physical while ignoring the spiritual underpinnings to everything that goes on around us? Could tragedy, suffering, and pain actually be good for us?
God is working out things behind the scenes that we cannot see. When we ask why God intervenes some times and does not at other times – even if we were given the answers, we would not be satisfied. No answer could ever make me happy with some of the tragedies in my life, and I am sure the same could be said for some of the tragedies in yours.
What are we going to do when tragedy strikes? Are we going to ignore that the bad happened? Are we going to distance ourselves from God? Are we going to justify away how God does not hold any responsibility? Or are we going to totally give ourselves over to God, seek His will and plan, and allow Him to work the terrible situations toward good through us? The choice is ours. We can try to change our perspective.