Every time something bad happens, a disaster, a death, an illness, or a financial catastrophe, many people either ask “Why would God allow this to happen” or why did God do this”? When things happen that don’t appear to make sense, or go against what we think is good, we say God did it or allowed. It probably doesn’t surprise you that many Christians who don’t like Donald Trump or voted for him try to rationalize it by saying that “God put him in”. I’ve heard that very thing more times than you think. We say that God does or allows bad stuff because we don’t understand how a God that we know loves us can allow us go through situations that stretch our abilities as human beings to handle or understand. Why are we struck with a debilitating illness in the prime of life, why does one of our children die young, or why do we lose a job right after we sign a big mortgage? What about facing foreclosure because we haven’t been able to find a job? Why is your spouse stricken with a chronic illness ending in death. When these things happen in succession we search for answers. When we Christians say that God does or allows these things, without any explanation, why would anybody want to become a Christian? Think about it. If on the one hand we say that God is love, merciful, faithful, compassionate, and forgiving, and on the other hand say that God took a loved one, or caused a natural disaster just to punish, or teach us a lesson what kind of message are we sending?
Christians and nonbelievers alike might wonder, “What do you think they did to deserve cancer?” If someone’s wife walks out, insensitive churchgoers might think, “If he had been a better spiritual leader, his wife wouldn’t have done that.” If a teenager is rebellious, hardened onlookers might privately reflect, “If that kid’s parents had been more involved, this never would have happened.” When we are going through a tough time, or have a tragic loss our well meaning Christian friends say “This was God’s will,” and that, “we don’t always understand why God does what God does, but we must accept God’s will.” What a terrible thing to say! I don’t believe that it is God’s will that we face disaster. I haven’t been able to find anywhere in the Bible that God wants His children to suffer.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NLT) For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.
How about turning the question around and asking "Why would an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God allow good things to happen to bad people?" After all, if seeing good people suffer is horrible, it's not much fun seeing evil people having fun either.
Being a Christian doesn't exempt you from suffering. Jesus Himself assured us that there will be trouble in our lives.
John 16:33 (NKJV)33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
1 Peter 4:12 (NKJV)12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
God is sovereign and He knows everything that has or ever will happen good, bad, or indifferent. That means that, in a sense, He allows everything. However allowing and doing are two very different things.
God Does Not Do Evil
James 1:13 (KJV)13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Job 34:12 (KJV)12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.
If God doesn’t do anything that hurts us what does it mean then when it says in Job that God gives and takes away?
Job 1:20-21 (KJV)20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
When you start reading at verse one of this chapter you will see that God didn't do anything to or take anything from Job. It was Satan that did and took, but God did allow it by giving him permission. Job knew that he hadn’t done anything to cause what was happening to him so he, like most of us, needed to find someone or something to blame. Most of us “good Christians” blame Satan or God but never ourselves or acknowledge that some bad things just happen because we live in a fallen world.
Romans 8:20-22 (NKJV)20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
God Does Discipline Us
God does discipline but discipline is for good and not evil. Discipline with love does not result in tragedy as long as you don’t fight or despise the discipline.
Hebrews 12:7-11 (NKJV)7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God warns us throughout scripture of the consequences of sinful behavior. As with our natural parents the warning and then discipline is proof God’s love. Because God, in His sovereignty gave mankind free will, if we continue to ignore the warnings and discipline the results are our fault not God’s.
Here are some examples of warning and discipline.
Leviticus 20:9, 11-13, 16, 27 (NKJV)9 For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.11 The man who lies with his father's wife has uncovered his father's nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.12 If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death. They have committed perversion. Their blood shall be upon them.13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. 16 If a woman approaches any animal and mates with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood is upon them. 27 'A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.' "
God even withholds punishment because He doesn’t want anyone to face it.
2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
People don’t want to take responsibility when bad things happen instead we like to place blame somewhere else.
Purpose in Our Pain
Here’s an account of a conversation between Jesus and His disciples;
John 9:1-3 (NKJV)1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him".
This man had spent years enduring the hardships of a life without sight, and Jesus basically said that God would be glorified through this tragedy. God has a purpose in our pain.
Ephesians 1:11 (NKJV)11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
God takes the long view. His goal is not to give us temporary, superficial and fleeting comfort, but His purpose is our eternal welfare.
Yes, sometimes bad things happen to people who seem undeserving of them. But God allows things to happen for His reasons, whether we understand them or not. We know that God is good, just, loving, and merciful. Often things happen to us that we don't understand. However, instead of doubting God's goodness, our reaction should be to trust Him.
Joseph is a perfect example of a series of tragic events that included his brothers throwing him in a pit, then selling him as a slave. Joseph while serving his master was falsely accused and then thrown in prison. He was forgotten after doing a doing a favor for a servant of Pharaoh by interpreting a dream. What a series of bad fortune. This same guy became the second in command in Egypt. Instead of becoming bitter Joseph was used by God to save his brothers and his family when they needed food in order to escape the famine. What those brothers originally meant for evil was proof that in His sovereignty could turn that evil into good, proving that nothing that man does can thwart the purposes of a sovereign God.
Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
Jesus came from that family.
God allowed the religious leaders, Roman authorities and Satan himself to murder His Son Jesus and it appeared that they won. But, allowed it to accomplish His plan of the reconciliation of man back to Himself.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
As with the life of Joseph, God was orchestrating these unthinkable acts in order to accomplish His plan of satisfying the punishment of sin in mankind through the death of his Son.
When things seem to be coming apart remember that God is not causing those things but He may be allowing them, and if He’s allowing them it’s to accomplish His purpose in you.
Romans 8:28-29 (NKJV)28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.