Board index Terror Attacks and School Shootings

Tragedy is ever with us. Let's talk about it.

Where was God that day? Why did God allow this to happen?

Postby jimwalton » Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:58 am

It’s not the way God works. It’s not what he does. Where was he? He was there, under the radar, doing what he could to save lives. Let me explain.

God doesn’t control everything that happens. One of his main characteristics is love, and his love for us demands that he allow us to freely make our own choices. Otherwise, we would just be his robots, like “Simon Says”, and we would cease to be human. Have you seen the recent movie “Ruby Sparks”? That’s what happens when love is control, not choice. He would have to control not only our behavior, but our thoughts that lead to that behavior and our attitudes that contributed to the behavior. If God was in control, we would no longer be human, and, frankly, he would no longer be God. His character would be force, control, and power instead of love, fairness, and grace. Not only that, we would know, then, that He was ultimately responsible for every Nazi atrocity, every child who dies from leukemia, and what every violent or bigoted or hateful person does. God created the world with cause and effect, and he created us with free will. Just because he is all-powerful and all-knowing doesn’t mean he makes these things happen. So God does not and can not control everything, or he negates our humanity and his own deity.

“Well,” you may say, “maybe God didn’t make it happen, but he allowed it.” What? That doesn’t make sense. Of course God allows people to do what they do. It’s because we have free will, and it must necessarily be that way, as we’ve already established. But that doesn’t tell us anything useful. “Allow” is a not a biblical idea, and it is a meaningless word in terms of God’s role in evil. “Allow” means there is someone out there with a free will that I could stop but I don’t, and all that means is that I have to let their free will be free or else it’s not free will.

There is a world of difference between allowing things to happen and causing them to happen. As a parent, I allow my children to make their own decisions, but that doesn’t mean that I’m responsible for what they decided. “Free will” means FREE.

God expects us to control such things, as much as we can. That’s why he established governments, and why governments have militaries, police forces, hospitals, and why we make laws. We do our best to control and contain such things. God is not the one who allowed such things to happen any more than we did, and neither of us is to blame for it. Despite our systems, controls, safety nets, rules, and watchful eyes, things slip through our net. God isn’t to blame for not interfering every time somebody thinks something evil or does something evil. Otherwise he’s be interfering 24/7, and that would strip us of our free will and bring human life to a halt. We wouldn’t be human any more.

You see, this tragedy didn’t “happen” as a circumstance. A person perpetrated it. This slaughter was the direct result of a decision a man made and his acting on his decision. And we can say this with certainty: God’s doesn’t normally control people’s decisions and the consequences of them. People blame God for their problems. Everybody does it. When things are going fine, they relax, or they credit themselves. When things go bad, they blame God. That doesn’t make sense either.

In Luke 13.31-35, Jesus finds out there's a plot on his life: Herod is planning to assassinate him. Jesus is neither intimidated nor afraid. "I'm going to keep doing what I'm here to do." But then his thoughts turn to the people of Jerusalem, and how godless leaders have led them astray. His love for them overwhelms him. Despite their sin, Jesus wants them back. He is always seeking, and always trying to reconcile. Rom. 5.8; Jn. 3.16. But they "were not willing." It's the people's response that matters. God doesn't send people to hell; they choose it. God doesn't reject people—they reject Him. He will take anyone who will come to Him. All they have to be is willing.

Then look at what comes next: "Look, your house is left to you desolate." Since, Jesus is saying, you chased out and killed all the redeeming factors in your city, (1) don’t blame God for his absence, (2) you are teaching and getting taught lies, and therefore (3) the city (country) is spiritually bankrupt. Simple cause and effect. You made your bed, you lie in it.

What does that have to do with this terrible tragedy? People are very quick to accuse and say, "Where was God?" but (1) You haven't paid attention to God in a long time, (2) you teach lies to people (3) the country is spiritually bankrupt, but now you ask, "Hey, where's God?" You sent him away. We learn from the gospels over and over that Jesus never stays where he is not wanted.

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