Many things in God’s kingdom don’t make sense, but then that should come as no surprise to any of us. Mountains of books have been written throughout human history in an attempt to explain evil events as they relate to the goodness of God.
The questions take many forms: “Why doesn’t a good God prevent innocent people from evil acts?” “Why do evil people escape punishment while good people suffer harm?” “Why doesn’t God do something about natural disasters, disease, and accidents?” And, “Why does God allow His own servants to suffer?”
The answers are also plentiful: “God allows evil to exist because He has chosen to give us a free will.” “God intervenes in our lives when we pray, and when it is His will to change our circumstances.” “God allows good people to suffer now, but one day He will make everything right, rewarding those who do good deeds and punishing those who do evil.” And, “God uses our suffering to prepare us for His purposes.”
I believe there is sound biblical truth to support all of these answers (Romans 8:28; James 1:1-4; Luke 16:19-31). Yet, when someone is staggering in the tempest, it is hard to come up with any explanation that satisfies. Nor should we try.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting we should never quote scripture, or try to bring perspective in the midst of a tragedy. I often recount truths God has given us regarding His will when I pray with frightened or grieving families. If someone says, “This hurts right now, but I believe everything happens for a purpose,” I don’t say, “Oh, let’s not talk about that now.”
In most cases, however, I try to offer the most basic reassurances from God to comfort those who are suffering, and to help them understand God is present. I might say more if I am asked, or if those who are hurting take the initiative.
With this personal ministry style in view, I now turn to present events and ask, “How many more people are going to suffer at the hands of a mass shooter?” “How many more towns and villages are going to be bombed, burned, and pillaged.” “When is God going to make everything right? It all seems so senseless.”
The answers to these questions can also be addressed within the framework I have already shared. I do not believe we will ever be completely satisfied with the answers, but perhaps through study, prayer and the passing of time we can come to a place of peace.
And in all of this, I wish to make one very bold statement: “Life is never senseless!” Yes, evil people do evil things for no reason. Their flawed logic is certainly senseless. But I am convinced the world is never out of control, and God will work with us to put the pieces of the most tragic events together in a way that brings meaning to our lives.
I do need to disclose I am uncomfortable with the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” It isn’t that I am in total disagreement. However, I do think we need to be careful with the notion God intentionally allows evil because He wants to use it for a higher purpose. God puts pieces back together again and gives our scarred lives meaning, but that doesn’t mean He would not have been just as pleased had the evil not taken place.
Therefore, I have some perspective on recent tragic events, though I admit my soundings in the raging sea are imperfect. My thought would be that evil people sometimes commit senseless acts that rob others of God’s joy. Murderers selfishly claim the lives of someone’s child, spouse or parent. Attackers alter the course of people’s’ future when their actions leave them maimed or mentally impaired. These crimes can be truly senseless.
But in God’s kingdom, we have a Heavenly Father who reaches down into our storm and gathers up our hearts, together with our broken bones, tattered flesh and shattered dreams. He says, “I have not left you. This is not what I planned, but we will set a new course and I will fit it into my plans. In fact, I want to reward you for your faithfulness by using what you have been through to do more than originally planned. If you will trust me in this, we will walk out of the angry waves together and I will bind up your wounds and lead you to higher ground.”
Without God’s help evil wins and senselessness prevails. But when we allow God to work, He makes sense of the senseless and shows us how anything can useful in His kingdom.
That’s the way I see it. Does this make sense?