Horrible events have occurred here in the United States in the last few months in such rapid succession it is hard to comprehend. From a mass shooting in Las Vegas, to an ISIS driven attack in New York City to the most recent mass shooting at a small town Baptist church in Texas. It leaves me thinking of my huge church, where inside hundreds of family members gather weekly and daily to serve Christ. I fear for our safety, yet then I remember how many times in the Bible God tells us not to fear.
(Its 365 times. By God’s design there are 365 days in a year.)
Times like this also lift up the question, “Why does God allow such horror?” If you’re a Christian, you’ll get asked that in your lifetime. So we must remember that in times like this…. God weeps.
God isn’t allowing this suffering to happen. This horror and pain entered the world on the back of sin in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose sin over God’s loving guidance. The next question that will come flying at a Christian is, “Then why did He allow sin into the world?”
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33
That’s when Christians tackle the tough task of explaining how God loves us and how He wanted us to have free will. In order to be in a unique relationship with every son and daughter He has, He gave us individual choice. Without that, we’d be carbon copies of one another, marionettes for God instead of children of God. With our freedoms we have the ability, daily, to choose God’s love or to choose not to love.
“Then why can’t God just stop it all?”
The truth is, in my opinion, God surely can. Just as He opened his mouth and spoke light into existence He can speak sin out of existence. But then… when would God be able to stop? Take away one sin there is still another to deal with, then another, and another and soon a world of sin to discipline. Pretty soon humans are nothing more than those marionettes with God constantly intervening to correct our thoughts and movements, instead of humans learning from our free choices.
Look at it this way; as children, didn’t we learn from our mistakes? A parent who constantly scolds and corrects the bad action of a child is not teaching, they are controlling. If children behave there is no need to correct them, yet once they misbehave then the correction must occur. It is a learned process to live right, think correctly, and do the right thing. Had sin not entered the world back when it did, learning right from wrong wouldn’t be an issue. The world would have known only right, good, and love.
Now consider the fallen world we live in since sin entered and look at your neighbor. Would your rather be exactly like them, in all ways, the good, bad and ugly or have the ability to choose how you want to behave? Would you want to be controlled, or free?
“But He took care of getting rid of sin early in the Bible so why not now? Answer that one!”
When the world was created, when Mankind was just taking its baby steps, there were a lot of miraculous ways God showed His power. He had to. In order for the race He created to understand His great love, and their mistakes, God had to perform many signs of His power, even if it meant things like the Great Flood. Today… He doesn’t have to. His great faith is evident in the millions of followers of Jesus worldwide.
I sadly heard this morning that someone somewhere said loud enough for the news to pick up on it, that praying at times like this doesn’t control or change anything so why bother. I disagree. It doesn’t make tragedies easier to endure knowing about free choice. But understanding that God gave us wills of our own can help us pray over tragedy. Pray that those impacted have hearts that remain rooted in the love of God, and that God’s spiritual warfare is present in their lives so that Satan doesn’t get a grip on them in the wake of their sadness. Just as the horrible choices of one person changed the lives of the victims and their families and friends forever, their individual choices after a tragedy can have impact good or bad too. Do we want them to fall prey to all the horrible feelings Satan wants them to experience in this time, or do we want a hedge of protection to envelope them to know God’s loving guidance even more?
God wants us to use our free will to make the right choices. He wants us to choose to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. We have the choice to pray for the sinners of this earth to turn to Christ so other horrific events don’t happen. So, praying in my opinion changes everything.
When we weep, God weeps too. Spiritual growth occurs in the valley and in that sorrow He loves us harder than before.