The heart-wrenching parade of names, faces and personal stories is becoming too long. It seems we barely get life to return to semi-normal, when the next tragedy occurs. In too rapid succession, we’ve seen Aurora, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, Boston and now as I write this, West, Texas. And that’s not even mentioning hurricane Sandy and the devastation caused by the extreme weather conditions this winter.
Shortly after the explosions at the Boston Marathon, twitter was trending heavily with “Pray for Boston.” As I scanned down the condolences, I knew there was another trend on people’s hearts that would never show up as a twitter hashmark. But it is the question that is always there: “Where was God?”
It’s only natural to wonder if God is good, all-powerful and all-knowing, why doesn’t He intervene and stop tragedies from occurring? And we’ve all heard the explanation about our free will. We were created in God’s image with the power of autonomous choice, which means that God sees and respects us as having the same order of being as Himself.
While not a perfect analogy, let me use an example: my relationship with my son Gabriel. One time when he was about 4 years old, I literally had to snatch him up as he darted into the street after a ball. He yelled in angry protest, not noticing the car that was barreling down the street. I intervened then because he was a child and I was an adult. But Gabriel is a man now, and I do not intervene in his life like that. I respect his adult status and allow him the freedom to express his personhood through his own choices.
To those of you who still find yourself angry with God and wondering, “Why doesn’t He do something?” Ask yourself the following question: “Would you really want to live in a world where God could usurp your freedom and intervene at any time?” Would you want Him clearing your plate when you’re getting ready to overeat, washing your mouth with soap the next time you uttered an expletive deleted, or appearing at the end of your bed every time you decided to have casual sex?
You may still insist that you wouldn’t want God to intervene in your personal life, just in major tragedies. How big and devastating does an event need to be before it’s a major tragedy and whose opinion should be the determining factor? It’s highly unlikely that even a panel of experts could agree on the exact point where God should intervene.
God has given us, all of us the gift of free will and with it, the power to benefit, damage or even destroy the lives of others. It’s an incredible gift and God knew we would need some guidance to properly use it, so He warned us to listen to wisdom. But we often insist on doing our own thing and having our own way, not realizing the chaos we are releasing in our own life and the lives of others. Does God stand by just wringing His hands and watching us defeat and destroy ourselves? Not hardly!
God did something. It’s described in Romans 5:6–8: “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
Christ’s death has the power to radically transform our lives if we choose to accept the gift of God’s love. God continues to respect us, so each of us has to make our own choice. But next time you wonder, “Where was God?” Look at the cross!
Please come join us this Sunday at 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM as we continue our current series on Spiritual Warfare. I will be speaking on “Spiritual Boot Camp”