Friday, December 21, 2012

"Why would God allow something like this to happen?"

That is the question that seems to float around social media whenever our nation faces such horrific tragedy that it seems, in all our right minds, could have been prevented. The recent Sandy Hook shooting. 9/11. The shooting in Aurora, CO earlier this year. The local kidnapping and murders of two Iowa cousins. And if we zoom out to include the global headlines, the unbearable reads stack a mile high. Syria and South Sudan just to name a few. And on and on it goes.

Oh how Satan howls in accomplishment when he gets our hearts to question God….to doubt His goodness… wonder where God was in the midst of such horrendous, heartless, dark acts. Satan was there in the garden with Eve, thousands of years ago, doing the same exact thing. Twisting God’s word ever so subtly, until the doubt was planted in Eve’s mind (Genesis 3:1-6). In the wake of this Sandy Hook tragedy the devil so enjoys it when we ask, “Why didn’t God reach out and stop this? He could have stopped it! Why didn’t He? If God is good, and loving, and all-seeing, and all-knowing, then why did He allow this to happen?”

The answer that has been laid on my heart is this: Because God does not reach in and program our will. We are not His robots, His puppets, that are programmed to say, “I will obey you, Lord,” and do only what we are told. God designed us, created us, with our own free will. We each have the ability to choose whether we will serve the Lord or whether we will serve evil.

The book Stranger on the Road to Emmaus explains the reasoning behind God giving us a free will:

Having the ability to choose is what gives the word obey meaning and depth. Choice makes a relationship genuine. When a son is obedient to his dad, he honors his dad. So it is between man and God. Man was created with a will so that, by the obedient choices he made, he would honor the Lord. The Bible says that when man fits into God’s plan for him, he finds the greatest happiness, fulfillment and reality.

But, there is a flip side. We can choose to say “no” to God’s plan for us and intensifying this choice of free will, is the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). This Sandy Hook tragedy is a glimpse of the intensity of this spiritual battle going on each day for our souls. Sandy Hook is the outward evidence of a man who’s own free will chose to serve and obey evil. We say this is too much. Not the lives of innocent children. This has gone too far. And God would agree. We are grieved. And God is grieved. We are angered. And God is angered. Yet, He’s seen this before. A people who have turned their backs on Him and chosen to go their own way. Genesis 6:5-7. Romans 1:18-32. And it’s going to get worse. Much, much worse. As our fallen world - destroyed by sin - keeps on spinning, and as people choose to say no to seeking God, to say no to choosing righteousness, to say no to passing on the truths of the Bible to their children and their children’s children, then generations are going to be raised up who do not think it worthwhile to know the Lord or obey Him. And it’s going to get ugly, people. Real ugly.

But evil does not win. “Why didn’t God reach out and stop this?” Be assured, the day is coming when He will.
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

And this everlasting destruction is not only for Satan’s instruments and followers. It is for Satan, his demons, and his workers themselves.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:


And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh…

…and the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 19:11-21, 20:10)

In just a few days we will be celebrating the first time Jesus came, as a baby, in peace. He lived to die ~ bringing us mercy and forgiveness as He sacrificed His life for ours, making payment for our sins on the cross. For those of us angered by the evil in our world, we can cry out for the day when Jesus will come again. As a warrior, who will slay evil for eternity.

Until then, may evil acts like the Sandy Hook shootings drive us to our knees in acknowledgement that something has gone wrong in our world. People readily choose sin and wickedness over righteousness and goodness. We are in dire need of a Savior. May this brokenness in our world bring to the surface our deep down longing for heaven. As we yearn for things to be made right, for injustices to be swallowed up, for a place where bad things never happen, may we take confidence in Jesus’ word that, yes indeed, a better day is coming. “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me… (Revelation 22:12)” And as we hurt deeply for these families who will not get to wrap their arms around their little loved ones this Christmas, may we hold tightly to the truth that God can take even the worst happenings, and work it together for good (Romans 8:28).


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