It seems that lately I’ve seen so much heartache come across my Facebook news feed. Sad stories, injustice, unfathomable loss, and unimaginable fates, especially of children. I even read a news article today that left me with a heavy stone in the pit of my stomach. As I read the cruel, heartless treatment of an innocent baby I felt a lump form in my throat and grieving tears set up in the corner of my eyes. For even a child I didn’t know deserved grief.
My first thought, as the sympathetic pain gnawed at my heart, was to ask God why.
Why did that have to happen, Lord?
I don’t think God minds our questions, per se, and I believe He might understand the inquiry. Certainly He knows our human nature better than most, and He’s eager to speak His answers to our hearts when we earnestly seek His counsel.
I think some people just assume that God deals out the awful things we see; that He sits on a high and mighty throne handing out punishment to His people to teach them a lesson. Is that why babies are mutilated, or kids die young?
I don’t think so.
I don’t believe God wants to give your child cancer so that He may strengthen your relationship with Him. And while that may happen as a result, and others can also strengthen their faith through watching you, I don’t think calamity is God’s way of bringing His sheep to His side. That might be an unpopular opinion, but it is mine based on a character I see in scripture.
Of note, while the Old Testament speaks at times of a vengeful, angry God, we also have a new covenant in the New Testament that details our Father. A Father who sent His own Son to slaughter just for you and me.
I don’t believe God is responsible for the death of children, but I do believe in free will. I know that the choices man makes are His own, and I know that those bad choices grieve our Father.
If the Father interfered with this free will He has placed within us all, wouldn’t that negate the point? What kind of relationship is possible if you’re forced to adhere it it? While we have the choice to follow the Lord or not, we also are afforded the decision to do right or wrong. And wrong choices seem to hurt those around you the most.
I do know that we do not battle solely against flesh and blood on this earth, but against principalities and powers of darkness. I know that sin exists in this world, and that sin brings death and pain. Not the Lord.
So why do bad things happen to good people? Why do children die? Why are babies slaughtered? And why are innocent lives abused, beaten, mutilated, and raped?
I do not know. Honestly. I think what I said above scratches the surface quite a bit, but I also don’t claim to know all the answers.
And when I do not know the answer to an impossible question I do the only thing I know to do. I cling to the answers I do know.
I do know that God loves me, and I know that He sent His Son to save me from sin so that I may have eternity at His side. You do know this life is but a drop in the bucket compared to forever, right?
I do know that since God loves me that He wants His best for me. He doesn’t want to cause me pain. He doesn’t take my children from me. But He comforts me if this world does.
And He reunites me with them in Heaven.
I do know that this world seeks to destroy me and mine, but Jesus came to save. So when I cannot answer the infamous “why” I cling to what I do know.
I don’t think that clinging to my faith, and professing the goodness of God makes me naive in the face of awful things that abound. I think it just shows that I know where to turn in weakness.
God does work all things together for His good, and believing that doesn’t tarnish the memory of innocent lives slain by this world. It just highlights my belief that God can bring beauty from the ashes, turn our tears into joy, and that His mercies are new every morning.
Does that belief negate the fact that a child died or suffered? No. And it certainly doesn’t diminish the importance of a parent’s grief. Perhaps, though, it can bring hope to hurting hearts and weary souls. That’s what God can do.
I’ll leave you with this. While there are so many verses that tell my spirit why I long for God’s refuge and might in this hurting world, these are the ones that stood out to me today.
Lamentations 3:23 NLT
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Psalm 145:15-19 ESV
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.