Why does God allow bad things to happen in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? These questions, and others like them, often arise when we look at the world around us rocked by disaster and at the lives of those we know who have undergone incredible suffering and sorrow.
It is difficult to answer these questions definitively. We must look to the Scriptures to learn the heart of God and to learn how he describes and reacts to these events in the lives of His people. When we look at Scripture we understand that God does not just see the events of today, He sees beyond them to the end result. When we read through the book of Job we understand that the experiences that Job had were not at the hand of God, but were allowed by God, at the hand of Satan, to prove something about God’s people to that wicked enemy of our souls. Job had no idea at the time about the “why.”
Christians you know have endured profound trials; perhaps you yourself have been through some. When speaking with these people, one will get most unexpected answers. The family whose young brother was taken suddenly will tell you how, through that loss, contacts were made in the gospel and others were saved. They will tell you how God worked those events for good in their own lives. The widow with her young family whose husband was so suddenly taken, will tell you how good God has been to her. The husband whose wife was taken with cancer will tell you how, through that trial, his entire perspective changed. Things that were so important before, suddenly became insignificant. Things that had been neglected in life and relationships, suddenly became cherished. Communion with God took on depths and intimacy which could not exist in any other circumstance than in those deep trials. A wife whose husband battled with cancer will tell how, each day, each hour, each moment, she can sense God’s presence, nearer, deeper, stronger. She will tell how, during that battle with cancer, her husband began to pray in earnest, not for himself, but for the needs, struggles, and comfort of those around him and among his family and friends. When pain kept him awake, he spent the time in prayer.
These experiences, against the backdrop of incredible pain, suffering, and loss, are all undeniable evidence that God works things for the good of those who love him. Things that happen which, from our perspective, seem for the worst, become God’s couriers bearing the overwhelming proof of His care, power, intimacy, and sufficiency. God does not always author these events, but He allows them. Whatever the cause, He intends to use them to the ultimate good of His people, and for the ultimate glory of His Son.
So why do catastrophes happen on a global scale? How can a loving God allow the events we see in Jamaica, Thailand, and in other spots on our globe? How can thousands of men, women, and children have their lives destroyed in moments, and be left without hope and bereft? Who could design such a world? How could this One be all-loving and all-powerful? The same questions we ask of God personally, we ask globally. The answers are different, but God is the same.
You and I live in a world that has been broken at our hand. We took a vehicle designed to run on the best fuel and filled the tank with sand and water. We ignored the manufacturer’s instructions. We drove the vehicle the way we wanted when He put us in control. We never changed the oil. We disobeyed all of the laws which were designed for our safety. We took the batteries out and then wondered how God could design something so flawed and ineffective. The light went out, the engine failed, the systems seized and corroded. We wrecked the entire vehicle. All the while, the Father Who gave it to us to use for our good looked on heartbroken at the disaster around us.
This planet is staggering like a drunken man. The Bible describes a creation that literally groans in its lack of God. The foundations of our creation are shaking, as are the foundations of society and the economy. God did not author this, but in His boundless love He made man and put him at the helm. We are shipwrecked. We pushed God out of schools and then ask where He is when students take up arms to kill each other. We eliminated prayer and dependence on Him, and then we questioned how He could allow such horrible things to happen. We disallowed identification with His kindness and wondered that He withdrew. We publicly proclaimed the rejection of His Son as our Savior then wondered why He wouldn’t save our world from all that is happening.
God so wants to be allowed back in. He says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice, and will open the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with Me” (Rev 3:20). He said to Israel, “If my people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” It was true with Israel, and it is just as true with our world today. This world will be a garden again when God has His rightful place in the hearts of men. Before creation is folded up, it will be replenished and will bloom. God seeks individuals today who will turn that control over to Him now. He has sought this from the beginning. For those who grant it, even the deepest hardships will bring great blessing.