Why Would God Let That Happen?

Why Would God Let That Happen?

That’s a question we often hear after great tragedies such as the one that occurred in Coral Springs, Florida on February 14th. Why would God allow a gunman to go into a high school and murder 17 people? Just this morning, I was made aware of some sad news that came to a good friend. Why do such things occur? Why is there such suffering?
Some look at the horrors of this life and conclude God must not exist. Their reasoning is as follows:
• God is powerful and good.
• Evil exists.
• God being powerful and good could stop evil.
• Since evil exists there must be no God.
How do we respond to this difficult question? I think there are a few things we need to keep in mind- both how to respond to those in the midst of tragedy and how to answer the question from a Biblical perspective.
First, let’s acknowledge the pain of living in a fallen world. People who are suffering first hand will ask this very question. We don’t need to rush in as the resident theologian. We need to be there to offer support and comfort as best we can. It’s ok when someone asks, “Why?” in the face of tragedy to answer “I don’t know.”
Second, keep in mind that the Christian worldview gives us the basis for being disturbed at such events. If all of life is only a matter of time plus chance, if we are only collections of molecules that have chemical reactions to one another then there really is no basis for the concepts of good and evil. Being made in the image of God, we all know that this is not the way life is supposed to be. The world was created good with no suffering and Adam and Eve in perfect harmony with God. Sin shattered that good world and brought us a broken world. In reality, to question God’s existence because of evil in the world is to take God’s standards and then use them against Him. That’s having it both ways and that doesn’t work.
Third, keep in mind that the message of the Bible is basically God’s response to the problem of evil. This world is so messed up it required the sending God’s Son in human flesh. That’s what it took to redeem a fallen people. The hope that is offered in the gospel is a world with no sin, no suffering, no sadness.
Fourth, we need to realize that God, in His infinite wisdom, can have a purpose for suffering and evil far beyond our capacity to grasp as finite creatures. We need to be careful here because we always want to offer immediate interpretations of God’s providence. We don’t know. We are like young toddlers who can’t understand why we can’t eat cake at every meal who then question their parents’ intentions when such is denied. The distance between God and us is much, much greater than a toddler to an adult.
We can reframe the issue then in this way:
• God is powerful and good.
• Evil exists.
• God being powerful and good could stop evil.
• God, who is powerful and good, can have a purpose for evil that is far beyond my capacity to understand.
In the meantime, as we live in a fallen world and face tragedy, let us pray for those who suffer- for those in Coral Springs, FL. Let us seek to offer those in suffering comfort and weep with them as we wait for what God has promised- a new heavens and a new earth where tears are nonexistent.

Paul Bankson
pbankson@gmail.com

Paul was born and raised in Birmingham, AL and graduated from Auburn University in 1986 with a degree in Business Administration. It was at Auburn that he met his wife, Connie. They were married in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and moved to Jackson, MS where he attended Reformed Theological Seminary graduating with a Master of Divinity in 1991. Upon graduation, Paul served as a Campus Minister with RUF, the campus ministry of the PCA, at Tennessee-Martin where the Banksons lived for 5 years. They moved to Macon, GA in 1996 to work with RUF at Mercer University and then Paul joined the pastoral staff at First Presbyterian Church of Macon as an Assistant Pastor in 1999. In 2004, Paul and his family moved to Warner Robins where he served as a church planter and then organizing Pastor of Houston Lake Presbyterian Church. In December 2014 Paul completed a Doctor of Ministry degree through Reformed Theological Seminary of Orlando. Paul and Connie have three sons, Andrew (23), Stephen (20), and Matthew (15). Paul enjoys grilling, camping with his family, and Auburn sports (War Eagle!).