When bad things happen, people are really quick to point a finger to the sky and scream, “Why did you let this happen?!” But is this the correct posture?
Let’s establish something to begin. Jesus is the exact image of God. (Col 1:15; Heb 1:3) Therefore, whatever we accuse God of has to be able to be seen in Jesus. Everything that God is can be seen in Jesus (however, not everything that Jesus does is something God does. Jesus gets exhausted. He takes naps.)
With this in mind, let’s visit the accusations brought against God. When something bad happens like a school shooting, a terrorist attack, a loved one comes down with cancer, or any number of other things, is God responsible?
Let’s first say that God is sovereign. While some would say that God being sovereign means that he causes everything that ever happens, I would define it as he either causes something to happen OR allows it to happen. Nothing happens outside of God’s knowledge. So when bad things happen, God certainly knows that it happens. But does he cause it?
If everything about God can be seen in Jesus, let’s look at what Jesus did when he was on earth. Did Jesus cause bad things to happen? I would have to say no. There certainly are times that Jesus causes things that could be seen as negative. He flips over tables in the temple and runs people out with a whip. (John 2) This wasn’t negative, but certainly wasn’t peaceful. He also curses the fig tree and it dies. (Mark 11)
But we never see Jesus causing harm to people. Certainly, he does cast judgment upon people as God does. God is patient with people for a really long time and then he passes judgment on them if they don’t repent.
But the bad things we are speaking of are not judgments, but rather, injustice and evil. When a gunman walks into a mall starts shooting people, that is not a judgment. It is evil. And we never see this kind of evil done by Jesus. He never hands a rifle to Peter and tells him to go kill people in the market. He never causes people in Judea to have cancer. He never causes drunk drivers to kill people in Galilee.
No, it’s the opposite. Jesus comes on to the scene to heal. He comes to change people’s lives. He comes to befriend the drunk driver and lead him out of drunkenness. He comes to heal the cancer. He comes to make the gunman into a missionary.
The majority of the miracles that Jesus performs are miracles of healing and blessing. If all of who God is can be seen in Jesus, what does it look like God does? He doesn’t inflict evil on people just to do it. He comes to heal the brokenness.
We always seek to cast blame on somebody for evil. If we can’t do it with God, then who do we blame? It’s really simple. We blame the devil. He is the one who causes evil in the world. He’s been doing it since the first sin. It was not the Lamb that tempted Adam and Eve to sin. It was the serpent. It was the devil. God did not cause sin to happen. (though he gave man the freedom to make that choice) The devil is the one who gave that temptation. He is the tempter and accuser.
Jesus said it best. “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Cancer, terrorism, and everything else bad in the world are the result of sin. That doesn’t mean that if someone gets cancer, they are being punished for a sin. Rather, all of creation is damaged by sin (Rom 8:20), therefore, all of our bodies are prone to get cancer because we are damaged.
Anywhere that we see stealing, killing, or destruction, that is the work of the devil. “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)
God certainly allows evil to exist in the world, at the time being. And when evil things like cancer or a shooting happens, he finds a way to use it for good in the lives of those who love him. (Rom 8:28) However, God wants to bring healing to the world, not harm.
Maybe you ask, “Why doesn’t he just get rid of all evil? He is all-powerful, after all.” One day, he will get rid of all evil. He will give evil men a very long time of patience, in order for them to have the chance to repent, before he finally returns and destroys them. However, if he were to do away with evil right this second, there would be a lot of unnecessary death. A lot more people would go to hell than what God wants. Frankly, everyone who is not a follower of Jesus would go to hell. And that is the majority of the world.
God is waiting for more people to receive forgiveness of their sins through following Jesus before he obliterates evil from the world. And when that day comes, there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. (Rev 21:4) Evil will be gone.
Maybe you have one final question. “It seems that when Jesus was here on earth, he healed everyone. So if God can fully be seen in Jesus, why doesn’t he heal everyone? Why do some continue to die of cancer?”
Jesus healed everyone that a story in the Gospels says he healed. However, I don’t know if he healed everyone in the known world at that time. Frankly, he probably didn’t.
I don’t know why God doesn’t heal everyone. He has all knowledge, so he probably knows better than any of us why some still die of cancer despite God’s nature of seeking to bring healing. All I know is that God doesn’t cause cancer or terrorism. The devil does.
So when bad things happen, we need to stop looking at God and accusing him of being responsible.
Stop blaming God; start blaming the devil.