“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” Exodus 14:14 (NIV).
Why does God allow horrific things happen? As a parent, this has been a particularly hard question to answer. I teach my kids to trust God, to pray and ask for His protection, but even in their short lives, bad things have happened to our family that don’t feel loving or as though God has protected us.
However, God knows my heart, and He knows I’ve struggled with this question myself. He loves me far too much to let it go unanswered or to allow my children to stay confused. The more I read the Bible, the more I understand God’s heart and hear His loving answer. It’s the answer I had a long and heartfelt talk with one of my children about, and hopefully it will make sense as I try to explain it here.
As long as we live on Earth, bad things will happen. Sometimes very bad things. However, they’re not caused by God. They’re the result of sin. God is love and light. The opposite of God, or the absence of God, is hatred and darkness. God is holy and pure. By His very nature, He cannot sin. Sin is rebellion against God and His rules. Sin is a result of Satan and his followers, not God.
Because of sin, bad things happen to people, all people. God allows sin to occur because He created us with free will. We aren’t a bunch of robots inhabiting the Earth but are given freedom to choose our actions and reactions. Even though He allows bad things, that doesn’t mean they please Him nor that He’s ignoring the pain or forgetting about us in the midst of our struggles.
No, the opposite is true. Through Biblical examples and personal experiences, I’ve found God’s waiting to rescue us, to help bring ultimate glory to Himself through circumstances He allowed but didn’t cause. Usually the person who suffers ends up being blessed far more than the sacrifice required or the evil they endured.
Take for instance Joseph in the Bible, found beginning in Genesis 37. God gave Joseph the gift of interpreting dreams at a young age. However, he was also immature and favored by his dad over his eleven half brothers. Instead of trying to keep a low profile, he taunted his half brothers with dreams God revealed to him. Then, when his father gave him a beautiful “coat of many colors,” he paraded around in it. His father gave nothing to his other sons, which caused them to hate Joseph more. As a result, the brothers’ got mad, beat him, threw him in a pit for a few hours, and sold Joseph into slavery. The story is quite long and involved, but the gist of it goes like this: In addition to being a slave, he was accused of raping his boss’ wife and was imprisoned. While in prison, he interpreted dreams of two of the king’s staff, which got him noticed by the king. Then, through a series of events, he became a powerful ruler in Egypt, ultimately saving an entire nation (including his family who had betrayed him) from famine and death.
Now, reading that story, it’s true terrible things happened to Joseph. There is no question. However, even though God didn’t cause any of those instances to occur, He used the bad circumstances to prepare Joseph for a much bigger blessing.
That’s just one story from the Bible. If you want a few modern day examples, Bethany Hamilton and Nick Vujicic come to mind. Ms. Hamilton was a champion surfer, but after a shark attack left her with only one arm, she has become even more well known. She has given God all the glory for the ability to continue to surf competitively. Nick Vujicic is a man who was born with no arms or legs, just a “chicken drumstick.” He hasn’t let that stop him from traveling internationally to share God’s message of love with everyone he comes into contact with. He’s now happily married with a young child and continues to give God all the glory for his wonderful life.
The first thing I notice about both of these individuals isn’t what they’re missing but what they have that others are missing. Their smiles light up their faces and fill their entire bodies. They don’t dwell on the terrible things. No, they focus on the blessings they have received.
Instead of focusing on terrible circumstances that might happen, I want my children to focus on the blessings God can pour out as a result. I don’t lie and tell them bad things don’t happen to good people. I’m honest and tell them life holds no guarantees. As long as we live on Earth, bad things can indeed occur. However, I remind them God is right there, not as an absent or apathetic parent, but as a loving Father gently guiding the circumstances and situations in order to bring about an ending far better than we can imagine. Will it bring back a limb or grow missing body parts? Not likely. Will it take away the time that was spent in prison or in a pit? Again, probably not. However, He can and will use even those times to help prepare us for whatever blessing He wants us to receive.
And, friend, I don’t believe God wanted the bad things in your life to happen in the first place. When He created the garden for Adam and Eve to live in, He didn’t create evil and sin along with His beautiful creation. No, I firmly believe Satan is responsible for the bad things that occur while we live on Earth.
God, though, is a loving God who is constantly guiding and directing situations and circumstances in our lives for the greater good for His children. Even though we can’t be assured we’ll never face problems (in fact, the opposite – we know we will face trials while alive), we can be assured God is ultimately in charge and only lets Satan go so far.
So, my answer to my kids when we had this discussion was a definite belief that even if something bad is going to happen, something better will be the result as long as we obey His Word and ask God for help. When we look to our Heavenly Father, He provides the best outcome in otherwise terrible circumstances.
© 2013 Cheri Swalwell