The Hard Questions – Why would a just God allow tragedy?

Because of the recent school shootings, I have had both family and friends come to me with hurt and frustration over this tragedy. Some of them are simply heartbroken over the loss of the event while others are angry that God could let this happen.

Because we live in a world full of tragedy and evil, I felt it could be helpful to some if I shared a few of the common questions I have received and gave answers for them based on what I know. This will be a series of posts over then next week as I work through each of the questions.

I would also like to note that there could be books written and are written on each of these topics. I am simply providing a few thoughts and feelings.

My hope and prayer is that these can be a learning and growing experience for all who read this and that their faith may be made stronger in The One True God in light of such events.

How can God be just and allow a tragedy like this to happen?

This is a tricky question, because it is actually two questions; Is God just? And if He is just, Why would He allow this to happen? It is easier to tackle both questions separately and then come to the entire conclusion.

Is God Really Just?

The simple answer to this is yes. We know that man’s morals are built on God’s laws and that His character defines justice. Therefore the only reason we know about justice is by His example. This is confirmed through the Scriptures in passages such as Exodus 34:6-7; Pslam 9:7-8 and countless other passages.

[6] The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, [7] keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7 ESV)
[7] But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
[8] and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the people with uprightness.
(Psalm 9:7-8 ESV)

 

If He Is Just, Why Would He Allow This To Happen?

Before we tackle the question we be honest, this is hard for people (including myself) because I can point out the wrong in other people’s lives very easily and ask God for quick justice. However in reality the Lord did not have quick justice on me when I first sinned (committed and evil act) and if He did, I would not have had the chance to understand His mercy and love. To dig a little deeper into this, when I look further into myself I find that I am not truly looking for justice, but vengeance when I make a judgment on the Lord’s timing. I want to see payback for those who have been wronged onto the person who committed the wrongdoing.

These are all very hard emotions to process in times of trials. Because we are hurt, because we want payback, and because in most cases we cannot do anything about it, we feel helpless and frustrated. Because of this, we often try take this out on God in an effort to lord over Him. All because we think our way is better than his. We think we could rule the world better than He does. To put it bluntly, this is rebellion (sin) and we are then no better than the one who committed the heinous crime in God’s eyes.

Now to the question, because we hold the fact that God is just, we assume that He will act in a certain way or do a certain thing (IE-prevent tragedy). However, justice is not based on our timetable or for our purposes. Or in other words, just because God is just doesn’t mean that He will act when we deem it necessary. Because God is not only just, but patient and loving as well, He allows bad things (or sin) to happen in order to give man the opportunity to see his evil ways and turn to the righteous God. This can be seen in passages such as 2 Peter 3:9 and Romans 2:1-8. Therefore the Lord allows tragedy to display His glory.

[9] The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

 [2:1] Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. [2] We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. [3] Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? [4] Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? [5] But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
[6] He will render to each one according to his works: [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; [8] but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:1-8 ESV)

The reality of this conclusion is sometimes a hard one to swallow. Especially if you are on the receiving end of the tragedy. I realize this and I am praying for those affected. However, I would also like to encourage you to place your frustration not on God but on the person or people who committed the action and to take comfort in the fact that their actions will not be forgotten or passed over by the Lord.

Furthermore, we must also try to understand what we as a people could have done to prevent this. Maybe we could have looked to the law of the Lord in the first place.

[13] “You shall not murder.
(Exodus 20:13 ESV)

(other posts on the subject: AlbertMohler , Mike Huckabee )

I hoped that this has sparked some thoughts or emotions. If you have further questions or would like a question answered, comment below.

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