In our lives, our world, and within God’s Word, terrible things happen. There is suffering, there is evil, there is injustice. And why does God permit these terrible things to happen? What are the reasons?
Anytime we fall into crisis and there is pain, it is the most natural human response to question God and want to know why. All throughout Scripture, those men and women we would call heroes of the faith questioned God in the face of suffering. On the cross, Jesus cried “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But should we question God? Or, should we simply accept the terrible things that happen and trust that God knows what’s best?
We identified two ways to question God—one way that is an act of faith, and one that is not.
We can question God in such a way that we are sitting in judgment of God—namely, blaming God as being 100% responsible for our troubles and the evils and injustices we see in the world. But is God really responsible? Is our God intentionally inflicting suffering upon innocent people? It can be very difficult to love God if we believe that evil and human suffering originate in God.
Though we may struggle to believe that God is loving, faithful, and just (and we all do), God’s love is the one aspect of God that we should not question. Questioning can drive a wedge between us and God, particularly if we’re insistent on finding answers to questions that are unknown and unknowable. We must learn to accept that there are some truths that we just cannot know. There’s no sense in constantly asking “why” if we could never know or understand the answer. Is it possible that there may not even be a reason why? Only God knows.
While it is most certainly human to question God, God asks some questions of us: “do you trust me?” “Do you believe that I love you?” “Do you believe that I am good?” If we’re willing to believe (even in spite of struggling to believe) that God is love, we can ask God to show us love in the midst of our greatest hurts and troubles. It is God’s desire and God’s delight to reveal divine love to us and sustain us with saving grace. Faith is all about learning to see God’s mercy and God’s provision in the face of pain. Faith is adjusting our vision to see the big picture of the ways that God is loving and healing the world, instead of dwelling on and constantly thinking about what hurts and what is wrong. In the same way as we read the Scriptures and ask, “what is God doing that is good,” we look at the big picture of our lives and ask, “what is God doing for me that is good?” “What is God doing for my community that is good?” And my world?”
Furthermore, faith is doing what Jesus told the sick, lame, and demon-possessed persons to do during his ministry: “get up and walk!” We can allow for our lives to be consumed by our troubles, or we can stand up in the grace of God, and commune with Christ as he walks with us through our days. We can live life, witness God's goodness, and participate in Christ's healing and redeeming work by caring for our neighbors, forgiving sins, and testifying to God's goodness.
God speaks these simple words to troubled hearts everywhere: “be still, and know that I am God.” That’s the best of all possible news—as well as the promise that God’s loving grace will meet our every need.
Next week, we’ll conclude the story of Adam and Eve and think upon Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. Is God still good in the face of so much evil?
Given that tonight was the first Bible study in four weeks, we've decided to meet again next Thursday, March 6.