Where is God When Bad Things Happen?

I know a thing or two about bad things happening. I’ve had terrible, horrible things happen to me, and those close to me.

A drunk driver killed a friend of mine. Jay was an amazing skateboarder and on his way to an x-games gold medal. The drunk survived, and Jay died at 17.

Unfair.

Hurricane Katrina devastated Florida. Thousands were caught in the devastation. The only person who controls the weather is God, right? What reason did He have to destroy so many lives? Both good and bad people perished in that catastrophe.

Unjust.

In Uganda, children are striped from their homes and forced to kill their parents as a sign of devotion to the raiding army. Non-compliance is met with more death. Those that survive are dragged around as slaves and forced to be child soldiers, suicide bombers and murderers.

Tragic.

I remember one good friend who liked to hang out with a rough crowd. He was a good guy, but just hung out with people who made bad decisions. They weren’t a bad influence on him, but he got into trouble a lot because he was around them. His parents, teachers and even his youth pastor were constantly upset because they saw so much un-tapped potential in him. He could be anything he wanted, but kept making poor decisions in their eyes and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Because of the company he kept, he got arrested for something he didn’t do. None of his friends stood up for him. Even those who believed he was innocent stayed away from the trial. His family and teachers did nothing. I guess they thought this was natural and logical consequences for his “poor decisions”. A few of his teachers even testified against him and his character, stating that he was a “trouble maker”. As the system would have it, he was found guilty. And if that wasn’t unfair enough, the sentence given to him after the trial was death. My friend was looked down upon, falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, and put to an undeserved death.

Unfair. Unjust. Tragic.

Oh, I forgot to mention the name of my friend in the last story. His name is Jesus. He is the Son of God and the first person in history to live an entire life without sin! And while I cannot say for certain where God is, I know where God was when people seized His only son, accused Jesus falsely, and with hate in their hearts, brutally beat him and nailed his body to a piece of wood on a hill to die. God was on the throne.

He was on the throne when my friend died in that car crash. He was on the throne when the hurricane hit, and he is on the throne when children are being hurt, and abused. He is on the Throne ruling the universe with righteousness, justice, and grace. He is seeing everything at all times and working all things for the good of those who love Him and have been called according His purpose!

I know what you are thinking “Whatever Binky! That doesn’t sound like a loving and all powerful God! How could He LET that terrible stuff happen?! I just don’t get it!”

Consider this. You are a judge in a court of law. You are sentencing a person for a crime they committed. The case is an open and shut slam dunk. (not sure what that means, saw it on CSI). The guy was tried and convicted with indisputable evidence that he committed multiple brutal murders. The law determines that his punishment is death or four consecutive life sentences.  You give your ruling.

Now imagine several years later, new information comes to light that proves the man is completely innocent. How do you feel? Do you feel caught and embarrassed and decide to stand by your decision? Do you justify what you did by saying, “I made a good decision based on what I new”?  Do you feel bad? Do you allow yourself to feel just a drop or remorse for punishing an innocent man? Do you wish you knew then what you know now?

Time and information. These two things can change our view on a great many things. God knows everything. He is timeless. Omnipresent and omniscient.

Perhaps our problem isn’t solved by reconciling the existence of injustice, but in re-defining our response to it. (wow. That’s a huge statement. What does it mean?) We come to this conclusion that things are unfair, unjust, and tragic based on what we know. What if, in a few years we learn that something that was unfair turned out to be a good decision? What if an unjustified action brings about an epic and needed change? What if we learn that a tragic event produced an unprecedented glorious effect? Can we be honest with God and say, “I believe you are good, but I feel this is unfair”? What’s wrong with bringing our lack of understanding to God? Nothing.

So the problem is not that God is allowing unfair, unjust and tragic things to happen; the problem is that we do not have all the knowledge and time that God does, and we come to premature, uninformed conclusions. We judge God for what He allows to happen without knowing all that He knows.

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. It may not feel like it now. You may feel hurt, and confused. That’s OK, but do not stay there in that place. Take your hurt, and frustrated heart to God. Sit on God’s lap for a while and let Him read you the story that He’s written. Soon you will understand.

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