FYI, I talk about some graphic things from my life in this post:
I know that many, especially those who question the validity of Christianity, are asking this very question today. Where was God during such an awful tragedy? Or at the very least, why didn’t He intervene if He is good and righteous? I want to start out by saying I completely sympathize with this question, because I asked that very question myself in the past. I went through a rough childhood where my mom had been hospitalized in mental institutions over and over. She had been sexually abused by her mother when she was a child and had severe mental disorders such as multiple personalities, bi-polar disorder, and dissociative disorder as a result of the abuse. Some of her personalities were suicidal and she would cut herself frequently. My brother and I had to hold her arm together on many occasions until the paramedics arrived. I can’t count the number of times she had to be hospitalized during birthday’s (mostly my brother’s), the Christmas’ she wasn’t apart of at home, and other times that made life very difficult. In addition, there’s the childhood trauma of going to psyche wards from a young age to visit our mom. So trust me, I know all about questioning the goodness and righteousness of God. I twisted off for a number of years in rebellion to God as a result of these things, taking drugs, hanging out with Satanists, and delving into all kinds of other wickedness. I asked myself where was God during the times I had to clean up my mother’s blood from the floor? Where was God when she almost died from a gran mal seizure in my High School years?
I can say with confidence as well as hope that God was right in the middle of my personal tragedies and these shootings. How do I find any comfort from that? After I turned to Christ by His work in my life, I saw the very truth that is proclaimed in Job that John Piper articulates so well: I did not find comfort from God in secondary causes such as, “Satan was the one who did this, not God,” or “God is fully love, therefore He had no part of this, so turn to Him,” but rather, I found comfort in seeing that God ultimately is the One who permits or disallows evil and that He allowed it in my life to bring me to Himself. Most Christians at this point scoff at such a statement. “You are ascribing evil to God!” No, I am not. Are there not aspects concerning God’s attributes we all agree on that we cannot necessarily understand how they work together? How about Jesus being fully man and fully God at the same time? How about the Trinity being three persons in one God? How about the predestining work of God unto salvation and man’s responsibility for his sin? There’s a host of these and we embrace them by faith.
So here is what I am saying: God is without sin and wickedness; and at the same time, in His sovereign will to bring about a plan that would bring about the greatest amount of glory for Himself, without sinning, He permits evil to occur. I am saying that He is sovereign and has enacted a plan we cannot understand. In the beginning of Job, Satan must ask the permission of God to perform wicked acts on Job and his household. God is the one who allows or disallows evil. Nothing happens apart from His sovereign will. Is God not omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient? Doesn’t this reality bring us to the conclusion that God is there in the midst of the tragedy and has allowed it for His purposes? In the end of the book of Job, Job doesn’t find comfort in secondary causes but finds comfort from the ultimate source and cause, God Himself. He says, “Therefore [that is as a result of what God showed him through the trials] I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know,” and “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job saw that God was at the heart of his trials to bring him to Himself. And in seeing this kind of love, he saw how unbelievably unworthy He was to be showered with such amazing grace.
God permits wicked acts and trials in our lives to bring us to Himself, just as the end of Job. Pain and tragedies are a call by God to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. These awful events that have happened today as well as those that occurred in my life, are as C.S. Lewis puts it, “God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf and dying world.” God gets our attention through pain. He sure did get mine, and then He used those very trials to bring me to Himself. Job’s story is my story, though obviously not nearly as bad. This is why I am a Calvinist. GOD SAVED ME. I did nothing but rebelled. As odd as it may seem, the Scriptures speak of tragedies and trials as the mercy of God. That is the conclusion of Job himself. He spoke of things he did not understand, just as I did. We both questioned God, put Him in the dock, and said, “How can you do this to me? I do not deserve this!” No actually, I deserved so much worse. And then by God’s grace alone, just like Job, I saw the beauty and majesty of God in the face of Christ in particular, and saw that He graciously brought those things in my life so that I could have the best treasure in all the universe, Christ Himself. And man how I despised myself in light of such grace, but only because I saw that I was truly accepted! I saw the depth of my sin and depravity and saw the light of the Gospel shining on me brighter than the sun. What wonderful grace! And I can honestly say I would not have had my life any other way even with all those awful things that occurred, because the beauty of Christ, His worth and value in my life personally, far outweigh having those trials taken away. The trials were bitter sweet; bitter because of my sinful flesh bucking against them, and sweet because of the sanctification I underwent to see and know Christ as a result of them. And now I can honestly say, “Praise God for His mercy in blessings and tragedy!”
Heed the call of God in this tragedy Today! Turn from your sin and whatever it is that is holding you back from God and embrace Jesus Christ that you may enjoy the greatest treasure in all the universe, God Himself. There is no one greater or that satisfied more.
Articles I used pertaining to this from John Piper: