How Could a Loving God…
by Steve Huedepohl - 2015
Some people hate God or deny He even exists, because of some tragedy that has happened in their lives, or tragedies they have heard about. Often the reasoning is: If God is so loving, how could He allow such bad things to happen to good people? And yet, the bible says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39) So how do we reconcile this apparent contradiction? We’ll get to that below.
First, there are some minimums in life that no one can deny if they are honest:
1. No matter what we may think of God, there has to be a Creator*. The complexity of life such as the brain and the eye for example, could not have created itself by an accident, even in a trillion years… and there are hundreds of other scientific reasons. (To say it was aliens is foolishness – who created the aliens?)
2. Since there is a Creator God who controls the universe, we should be interested in what He says in His word, the bible. We should have a healthy fear of God, because He has all knowledge and all power… whether we like it or not, and because His word says that all those who deny Him, will spend eternity separated from Him and all believers in a place called hell.
So… whatever we may think of God, we need to start by considering that this is His creation, so we should listen to His requirements.
But the great news is that God did not create man just to punish him. God has an amazing plan of hope and eternal life for all those who believe in Him and trust Him with their lives!
Certainly, there are terrible tragedies that happen, especially to children, which are hard to understand - and certainly, there can be sadness and periods of mourning as a result. However, when tragedy happens, we tend to only look at the physical suffering and imagine how painful it is, or how undeserving. But man is body, soul and spirit. The spirit is not harmed, even though the physical body is. As for undeserving, we’ll consider that below.
The bible promises Christians that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) That means, for Christians – those who have admitted they are sinners and committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ – their spirit will be with the Lord the instant after death.
So what happens to the body is far less important than what happens to the spirit. People that have had death or near death experiences have said that they did not want to come back. If we could look from heaven back to earth, we would have a whole different perspective about death.
Now I’m not saying we should look forward to death – of course not. We need to fulfill the purposes God has for us while on this earth.
But if we look at death as a doorway to eternal life which is just on the other side, it takes the focus away from the pain and loneliness of death, and puts it on eternity in heaven, where there is no pain, suffering, sickness or death, and where there is fellowship with God and all believers forever, including our loved ones who are Christians. (Revelation 21:3-4)
That’s why the Apostle Paul could say, “O death, where is your sting?...” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Life is short. Whether someone lives to be 5 years old, or 105, this life is only a spec of time compared to eternity. But we tend to get caught up in this short physical life and all the tragedies we see, and forget about eternity, which is of course, forever!
My oldest son was killed in a car crash when he was 23, but his spirit was immediately with the Lord. When tragedies happen, it makes us much more aware of how short life is.
So… how could a loving God allow so many bad things to happen to “good” people? Here are some reasons:
1. First of all, man is not naturally “good” – his choices caused death and suffering to come into the world. Adam and Eve were created perfect, and were given free will to make choices. They had it all. They would have lived forever had they not disobeyed God. They were tempted by Satan in the form of a snake and chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden by eating from the one tree God told them not to eat of. As a result, sin came into the world and has been here ever since. Every person is born with a sin nature (Romans 3:23), but also a sense of right and wrong. So… first of all, man is not good and therefore deserves death.
The bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?”( Jeremiah 17:9)
Consider even small children – no one has to teach them to be selfish. On the contrary, we have to teach them what righteousness is. If you struggle with this, consider the selfish looting by otherwise normal people that often happens after a hurricane or other disaster, even resulting in deaths. Without laws, chaos takes over almost immediately because of man’s natural tendency to sin.
Before you say that you are not as bad as them, consider the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20) If you’ve ever lied about anything, taken God’s name in vain, stolen anything, coveted your neighbor’s possessions, etc., you have broken one or more of the Ten Commandments and are therefore deserving of death. God created laws for man’s own good, not to punish him – but to show man the best way to live. Even though he disobeyed, God made a way for man to be saved from eternity in hell by sacrificing His Son on the cross in order to pay the penalty for sin.
2. Now, you may say that if God is all powerful, why didn’t He create man so that he could not sin? - and yes, that would prevent all the tragedies in life due to sin. However, that would also require man to have no free will, and therefore would relegate him to be nothing more than a robot. Most importantly, without free will, man could not experience what love is. So yes, God does allow man the free will to sin, but He also teaches him valuable lessons through those experiences. Ultimately, that is the purpose of life from man's perspective – to know who God is, and to learn what true love is. (Those also happen to be the two greatest commandments. Matthew 22:36-39)
3. Even though man chose to disobey, God didn’t just write him off. He has always been part of the dramatic story that we know as the history of man – and that story is still being written. Yes, a story that has allowed many tragedies, but also one that allows for eternal life!
How amazing that the Creator of the universe would care enough to suffer and die for His creation, even though it disobeyed him, in order to make a way for His creation to live forever!
In summary, how could a loving God allow such bad things to happen to “good” people?
- Man is not naturally good
- God allowed man free will in order for him to experience true love. But man’s free will brought sin into the world – including the terrible tragedies that go with it. When Adam and Eve disobeyed, the whole creation fell – not just man. (Genesis 3:14-19 & Romans 8:22)
- God provided a way for man to have eternal life, which overshadows the tragedies of this life. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die to pay the penalty for man’s sin.
- God did not abandon man, even in the midst of his sin. God is always there, walking along side of man through his heartache and tragedy.
So yes, nothing can separate us from the true love of God. (Romans 8:38-39) We are part of an amazing story - God's story. The greatest story ever written!
The ultimate issue is that we must put all of this in perspective. We are the created beings, not the creator. The bible uses the analogy that God is the potter, and we are the clay. (Romans 9:21-23) We should have an attitude of gratitude toward our Maker, because of the grace He has given us. We broke the rules He made for our own good, and yet He did not abandon us but instead, gave us the gift of life. After all, He is the Creator of the Universe. Who can fathom His knowledge, and power, and love!
If you’ve experienced tragedies in your life, I pray for the Lord’s comfort, peace and blessing on you and all those involved. Always know that God will never forsake you nor leave you.
“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
* I’m referring to the one and only Judeo-Christian God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The only God who claims to have created the universe. He came to earth as a man in the form of His son, Jesus, and is the only God man who performed many miracles, died and rose again from the grave, and was seen by over 500 people after His resurrection.