This is a question often asked in relationship to our pain.
We ask this question when a loved one dies, when we get a devastating doctor’s report, when our best friend gets involved in a car wreck that leaves them paralyzed, when we lose a job unfairly or unexpectedly, when we lose a home to foreclosure.
Or, perhaps we ask this question in light of tragic events that happen around us…natural disasters, sex trafficking, rape, murder, suicide, school shootings, gang violence, police brutality…the list seems endless.
The shooting in Orlando is obviously fresh on everyone’s mind at the moment, and my heart certainly goes out to the families of the victims…but my aim in writing this is not to draw more attention to that specific event.
Instead, I want to try and tackle the question referenced in the title.
Not an easy task, because most of the time this question is asked in anger and frustration. And it’s directly connected to an older and even more difficult question:
Why does God allow evil?
As much as we would like to, believers can’t shirk away from this kind of stuff either…because whether we like it or not, it is a fair question. I obviously can’t answer either of these questions completely, but I want to at least offer a few points that can serve as food for thought. I’ll be borrowing heavily from an awesome book that I recommend to every parent by author Natasha Crain, entitled “Keeping Your Kids On God’s Side”.
The fact that evil exists is one of the biggest arguments that atheists attempt to use against God. Their basic premise is, “If there is a God, and He’s completely good, then He wouldn’t allow evil“. This seems logical at first glance, but there’s a huge catch: doing away with evil would also do away with free will. If God made everyone do good, no one would be have the freedom to chose otherwise.
Well, that still doesn’t explain natural disasters.
The typical Christian answer to this is the fall of man, and that Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden corrupted not only humanity, but all of creation as well. Granted, that is the correct answer, but to a non-believer with little to no faith in the Bible, it really doesn’t mean much.
In her book, Crain states this very effectively, and gives an interesting take on the issue of natural disasters. She points out that natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes, are actually “the byproduct of good processes”. For example, earthquakes come about as a result of the shifting of the Earth’s tectonic plates, a process that is necessary for our survival, but also a process that, unfortunately, does hurt and kill innocent people at times.
These are amongst a long list of answers that make sense logically, but let’s be honest: anyone who has just experienced a traumatic event in their life will not be comforted by logic. What can we as believers do when hurting people are overcome by their emotions and angry with God?
The answer is simple: we demonstrate the love of Jesus.
You see, we may never answer the question of where God was to a hurting person’s satisfaction, no matter how right or logical our answer may be. But no one can argue against genuine, Godly love.
Who knows? Maybe your loving presence could be the very tool that God uses to explain His “absence”.