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Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen?

Distraught Woman

Last week I wrote a newsletter on some things you could do when Christmas isn’t so merry.

This week our nation mourns the senseless shooting of 20 kindergarten children whose parents will have to bury their child instead of seeing them open their presents on Christmas morning.   

Why?

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

This is a question everyone asks when evil strikes and the answers aren’t easy to find.  Some conclude there must not be a God. Or if there is, he couldn’t possibly be good. 

Those who believe in God and believe he is good don’t know why particular acts of evil are allowed to pass through the veil of God’s sovereignty.  But what we do know is that ever since the first couple ate the forbidden fruit, things are not as they should be.

Children get slaughtered at school when they should be learning and laughing.

Children get aborted by their own mothers when they should be taking their first breath and being cuddled.

Children get abused by their own parents when they should be loved and protected.

Children get abducted, raped, killed, or sold into sex trafficking for other adults to misuse and abuse when they should be home sleeping safely in their own bed.

Husband’s cheat on wives, wives cheat on husbands. Children kill their parents. We kill one another not only with guns, but also with our words.

Things are definitely not as they should be and we protest. We mourn. We get angry. Our hearts long for something better. Whether we believe in God or not, deep down, we all know things are not as they should be. There is evil and injustice, sin and selfishness and it corrupts, distorts, and destroys all God made to be good.

In this Christmas season friends, we will wrestle with this tension afresh because of this terrible tragedy.  We will grieve and feel angry and not know why God allowed it to happen. But like Zachariah and Elizabeth did, we will wait in faith.  They did not know why God did not allow them to become pregnant but they continued to trust God and serve him even while their hearts ached. When the angel gave Zachariah the news that Elizabeth would finally became pregnant (with John the Baptist), he found it hard to believe (See Luke 1 for the story). 

We too don’t understand why things happen the way they do. We too will have to wait and choose to trust that God is good. We wait, trusting God is just and will judge evil and bring justice to those who have been wronged.  We trust, as best we know how, that there is more happening than what we can see with human eyes and that something new will be born out of waiting and trusting and suffering.   

The lament psalms (see Psalms 25,26,27 42 43, 73 for some examples) are particularly helpful to read while we walk that tension of waiting and mourning, waiting and trusting.  The psalmist knew that life was not as it should be. It is not fair. It is not safe. And sometimes good people get the raw end of the deal, even when they faithfully trust God. Yet, he tells us there is more.  God is present. God is with us. There is more to the story then we can see right now. There is a glorious end. God will prevail. Good will win over evil.  And that is our Christmas hope.

Read the words of this familiar Christmas carol and allow it’s truths to speak to your heart.

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), 1867)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

David cried out in his anguish, “I would have despaired unless I would have believed I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD ; Be strong and let your heart take courage ; Yes, wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:13,14 NAS).

Determine to trust God. Continue to serve him even when you don’t understand. In that way we express the love and goodness of God to a broken and hurting world that desperately needs to hear good news.

Warmly,

Leslie Vernick