In view of recent tragedies, one writer suggested that we all “boycott God.” She suggested that if we all stopped praying, attending church, and praising Him, that just might make Him stop killing so many people in these tragic disasters.
When Satan attacked Job, he made the fire that burned up his sheep come as “fire of God from heaven” (Job 1:16). The persecution came from the opposite direction, but it was in Satan’s favor to make God out to be the bad guy. It still is, and he still does.
C.S. Lewis observed, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”[popover title=”Source” title_bg_color=”” content=”The Problem of Pain” content_bg_color=”” bordercolor=”” textcolor=”” trigger=”hover” placement=”” class=”” id=””]*[/popover] David wrote, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Psalm 2:2-4).
Non-Christians often stumble over the problem of evil and Christians sometimes doubt God when suffering. They both wonder
- How could a good God allow so much evil?
- Why does an Almighty God not do something about it?
- Couldn’t an omniscient God create a world without evil?
- Why doesn’t an active God help His children?
A moment’s reflection shows the absurdity and impossibility of God intervening in every disaster or each time evil is about to befall one of His children.
Why does God not “do something?”
People would live in chaos.
God is a God of order. He goes by the rule He gave for the church: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). If God suspended natural laws every time one of His creatures was in a dangerous or life-threatening situation, chaos would reign. Cause and effect would have no meaning.
We could not function in a world without rational prediction.[popover title=”Source” title_bg_color=”” content=”Bruce Reichenbach, “Natural Evils and Natural Laws,” International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 16, 187. ” content_bg_color=”” bordercolor=”” textcolor=”” trigger=”hover” placement=”” class=”” id=””]*[/popover] We would never know how to live from one second to the next. In some instances one event would follow from a certain set of conditions, but at another time the same circumstances would lead to a different result. Our existence depends on the consistent working of physical laws such as inertia or gravity that God set up at the Creation (Genesis 1). What if parachutes usually plummeted toward earth, but occasionally floated back up into planes’ engines? What if a football thrown to a receiver in the Super Bowl comes down most of the time? Would you want to be running a chainsaw, lighting a fire, swimming, or driving down the interstate at seventy miles per hour when natural laws were temporarily suspended? Life would be unlivable in that case.
Changing one person’s life would set off a string of dominos affecting all those in the same area and all who were connected through relationship.
People would become reckless.
God desires His children to be prudent and careful (Proverbs 16:21; Acts 16:28). If good people were invincible and bulletproof, they would take crazy chances. If there were no danger in running a stop sign at a busy intersection, texting while driving, smoking, using firearms, or lifting weights, then people would soon abuse every situation. What about a Christian boy playing football on Friday night who could not be injured? What of a soldier on a battlefield who was truly invincible? Norman Geisler postulates, “The necessary intervention would finally grow in proportions that would effectively remove human freedom and responsibility.”[popover title=”Source” title_bg_color=”” content=”Norman Geisler, The Roots of Evil (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), p. 75.” content_bg_color=”” bordercolor=”” textcolor=”” trigger=”hover” placement=”” class=”” id=””]*[/popover]
People would fail to develop spiritually.
A woman walking in the woods came upon an emperor moth beating its wings and struggling to force its way out of the narrow neck of its cocoon. Feeling sorry for it, she took a sharp stick and split the cocoon, enabling the moth to be free. But its beautiful hues never developed, and its lovely wings never formed. The moth crept aimlessly for a few hours, and then died. The furious struggle with the cocoon is nature’s way of developing the wings and building the strength needed to fly. Without struggle, the moth cannot live.
Without challenge and sadness, we would all be shallow, selfish, spoiled people. Hardships teach patience, endurance, resilience, courage, and self-sacrifice. God’s goal is our spiritual growth to mature to be like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18)—pure, righteous, loving (James 1:2-4). Our suffering qualifies us to comfort others by knowing what their pain feels like (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Therefore hardships are necessary.
People would complain that their free will was taken away.
Men think they want God to intervene, but they don’t. The tradeoff would be more than bargained for. Men do not want God to intercept every evil act or thought. Imagine if every time an unbeliever tried to post a rant against God on his blog his computer caught fire. Or each time someone preached false doctrine, he developed laryngitis. Or she got a headache every time she had a lustful thought. Or if someone tried to hit another in anger his arm was paralyzed. God gave us volition (Joshua 24:15)—allowing us to choose our own path (Proverbs 14:12). He desires that we serve Him out of love (John 14:15; Revelation 22:17), but He will not force us to do so (Luke 13:34; Revelation 3:20).
People would follow Christ for the wrong reasons.
If God protected His followers from all harm, then people would follow Christ for physical rather than spiritual reasons. Think about it. If no Christian ever got cancer, had a heart attack, suffered from a disease, was injured in an automobile or industrial accident, would churches have any problem baptizing people? Every patient in every hospital, rehab center, and nursing home would line up at the door waiting his turn. Jesus strongly desires that all follow Him (1 Timothy 2:4), but because they want the healing of the soul, not the body (1 Peter 2:24).
Truly, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). We can trust Him.