Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How I Answer "Why does God let bad things happen?"

After being asked the highly personal question, "Do you think you'll have more kids?" I answered with an honest, "I don't know, in light of how our first experience went I can't blame my husband for being nervous. We recognize God's sovereignty, so if it happens, it happens." So this person (who knew my story) bombarded me with, "How do you answer the question Why does God let bad things happen?" I was completely caught off guard, and stammered something about Job and ended it with a completely up front answer, "Honestly, I don't know, but without suffering and trials how do we grow? I guess it's all part of our sanctification. The last year and half was definitely a growing period for us."

That's all true, but what do you say to someone who is hurting and wanting an answer to "why?" This woman's question forced me to think about how I'd answer this inevitable question, it's one we all want to know the answer to, because all of us want to know why God let's bad things happen.
  • Before you answer, pray. Guide me Lord, form my answer according to Your Word. I did not do that before I answered this woman, (ahhhhh! Hindsight is a killer!) which is why I was a stammering fool.
  • Answer according to God's Word. Recognize this truth: God's Word either brings comfort in the midst of heartache or it will arouse flames, the outcome is not up to you. If they don't like the truth in God's Word, that is not your issue. It is not a slam towards you, it is a God issue. The issue then exists between God and that person. If they want to know why GOD let's bad things happen and you use His Word to answer them and they have an issue with it, what does that have to do with you?

What Does God's Word Say?

God allows Satan to reek havoc on this earth and the people in it, however, (using Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-6 as one reference) He gives Satan limits and He is the one who gives Satan permission. When Job lost everything (property, children, wealth, everything) he asks God "why?!" in many different facets: "I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul." (Job 7:11) After what Job endured (I mean he buried ALL of his children, lost all of his wealth, and he has been sick for months) all of us would justify Job's bitterness, his anguish, his complaints towards God. We'd also never wonder why he'd want to ask God questions, to lay his case before Him, to argue his case before God (23:4), to wonder why God had left Him (29:5), (do these feelings sound familiar?) but let me challenge you with the entire purpose of Job: to "stop and consider the wondrous works of God" (Job 37:14). Elihu spoke this truth to Job and his 3 friends, in fact, Elihu told Job that his questions, his ascertain that it is his right to question God (35:2), were incredibly wrong! "Job opens his mouth in empty talk; he multiples words without knowledge." (Job 35:16) Why was Job wrong to question God, to complain, to want to lay his case before Him? Because God is sovereign, because God is wondrous, because God's knowledge far exceeds our own. God begins his discourse with "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" That question was meant for Job AND his friends and that question in and of itself should stop questioning dead in its tracks. It's His world, He created it out of nothing, He set it's measurements, He commanded the morning and the evening, we cannot even comprehend the expanse of the earth much less His entire creation! Who are we to question Him?! 

So, using Job as our example, in the midst of tragedy what are we to do? 

PRAISE HIM! Recognize the wondrous works of God! Have faith in HIS PLAN! Accept this trial as a means of growing into His likeness. (Go back to the purpose of Job in 37:14.) If you argue with God, if you, like Job, want to complain and justify and lay your case before Him, prepare yourself for the same question God asks Job in 40:2 "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." I promise you'll answer with humility, like Job, when he finally recognizes God's sovereignty and learns that he simply needs to seek God's wisdom, "Behold I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further." God continues to lay out His mighty power and states, "Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." (41:11) Who can challenge that?! No one can, and so, like Job, we are called to repent, to recognize that we utter what we do not understand, that God can do all things, and that no purpose of His can be thwarted (42:2-6). 

I challenge you, in the midst of heartache and tragedy to learn from Job. Instead of seeking the answer to why, seeking to justify, to give your account, to complain; to instead praise Him for His wondrous works, let Him work in you, and perhaps in time God will give you that answer. You may never know (in this lifetime) why God permitted these terrible things to happen, but you can and should praise Him even while tears are streaming down your face. Even as your heart is ripping in two, praise Him. Even as the days seem like years, praise Him. 

Even while the tears are streaming down your face, trust Him. Even as your heart is ripping in two, trust Him. Even as the days seem like years, trust Him.

Even while the tears are streaming down your face, pray. Even as your heart is ripping in two, pray. Even as the days seem like years, pray. 


And then perhaps you'll be able to answer why God let it happen.
After looking back on my testimony there's pieces I understand and there's pieces I don't, but I can praise God for His grace, His sovereignty and His mighty hand in it all.

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