It is the single word ground into the bloody soil of every battlefield in the world.
It is buried in the rubble of every civilization, state, and neighborhood that has been devastated by a natural disaster.
It lies in the ashes of the burned-up dreams of a family that just lost everything.
It can be heard in quiet, night-time sobbing of a little girl whose mother just succumbed to cancer.
It resonates in the screams of a father as he buries his son.
It is the shortest, most-asked, and
least-answered question in the English language.
You’ve heard it asked thousands of times, and while there are sometimes physical reasons that events happen in our lives, reasons – even good reasons – don’t answer why.
Or, to be more specific…
Why did God allow this to happen?
Whether you are just wondering, have gone through something that you have come to terms with, or are in the heat of that emotional torture right now, I don’t presume to have an easy answer for you, or have anything to say that is going to make the pain magically disappear. In reality, I believe we have a very skewed, 21st Century perspective of life, pain, and suffering (and I’m as guilty as the next person). We don’t want to believe that “bad things happen to good people”. We cannot conceive a loving God who allows tragedies and atrocities to occur. We stand on the words of Thomas Jefferson and claim “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, while forgetting the words of Jesus that promised, “…In this world, you will have trouble…”.
Quite honestly, it is a mystery… pure and not-so-simple.
Mystery… one word that encapsulates the very nature of God.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. ~ Isaiah 55:8
The Bible is filled with references pertaining to the mysteries of God. The word mystery, by its very definition, means something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. There is not the time, knowledge, or vocabulary to begin to explain either the mysteries of God or the mystery that is God. However, there is truth that, while it may not give us answers, can give us hope.
All of us are going to see difficult times. Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the subsequent curse that altered the course of human history from a state of perfection to what we find today, we will all face problems, suffer hardship, and experience death. It all goes back to the verse I mentioned earlier…
… In this world you will have trouble…
But the hope lies in the rest of the verse:
But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
While suffering in every conceivable way is part of the deal our ancestors signed in the Garden of Eden, Jesus assures us that He has it all in hand because He has overcome the world.
Whatever we are going through, HE has already been there. Bad things do happen to good people. If you don’t believe me, just think of Jesus. While being the sinless Son of God, He was falsely accused, suffered at the hands of sinners, and was killed in a horrific way by sinners.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
The mystery of this verse lies in the first 4 words: For He made Him… When Jesus went through all of the agony of being our sacrifice on the cross, God didn’t just watch it happen, or even allow it to happen… He MADE it happen. He wrote the law that provided our way of escape as a result of the fall, and then executed the plan even though it would cost Him His only Son. He did that for you.
When you are in your darkest night, there will be no shortage of people making inappropriate (and even stupid) comments. Some people truly want to help, but don’t know what to say, so they say the wrong thing. Some people just want to be judgmental, give you your why in the form of condemnation and criticism, and throw gasoline on your emotional fire. If either of these describe what you have gone through, you are in good company… consider Job. Everything that happened to Job was simply because Satan wanted to prove a point, and God took the challenge – at Job’s expense. When the bottom fell out in Job’s life (along with losing his possessions and health, he tragically lost his ten children), his “friends” showed up, and immediately started telling him everything he may have done wrong. His wife even chimed in, telling him to “curse God and die”. However, after all of the criticism, nay-saying, and unsubstantiated accusations from his friends, Job was vindicated. Not only was Job restored and blessed (even more than previously), but the very people who criticized him had to go through Job in order to be forgiven by God (see Job 42:7-10).
Whatever life sends your way, none of it gets by Him.
The fact of the matter is that God has a pretty profound list of whys as well. Why did God have to allow Jesus to go through all of the frustration, humiliation, sorrow, pain, and death? Why did He decide to offer a faithless, ungrateful, and fallen race a second chance with Him? Why did He decide that we were worth loving when He knew we would fail Him over and over again?
It’s a mystery I don’t understand.
But… I’m sure glad He did.