Summary: A multi-part message series on understanding God’s will in the context of suffering.
Since time began, there have been countless natural and human-made disasters so horrendous that they have caused grief and suffering beyond belief. Every human on Earth has experienced suffering to one extent or another. It may have been through quiet tears shed in the silence of the night as they reflected on the wounds inflicted by another or an overwhelming experience they went through.
When tragedy happens, the first reaction is usually to ask an angry “Why?!” Sadly, when people do suffer, the response is often, "It’s not fair, I don’t deserve this!” A loved one is brutalized - a child is abused - a natural disaster destroys whole cities - a family is wiped out in a terrible accident - a marriage breaks apart or disease takes hold of someone, and it is easy for people to quickly blame God for tragedy and calamity as they cry out in agony, "Why did you do this to me?"
Others, too afraid to be angry at God for fear of appearing faithless, play the Blame God Game when they indirectly accuse Him of causing their suffering by saying such things as; "It was God’s will”- "God allowed it" - “God is testing me” - “Everything happens for a reason”- “It was meant to be”- “It was fate”- “It was their time,” etc.
Casting blame upon God is a way to justify ones unwillingness to trust Him in (and through) everything because they are afraid of Him.
There are those who have had a loved one die, or had tragedy befall them while they were living a rebellious life, and have thought; "God is punishing me."
Two soldiers, who are Christians, face each other on the battlefield as members of opposing armies. Both pray for victory, only one army wins the fight. The one who has suffered defeat cries out ‘why?’ to God and the other thanks God for winning the battle. Whose side is God on - the winning side or the losing side? The answer is that God is on the side of both Christians and all He asks is to be trusted in the midst of struggle.
Some have said that natural disasters and acts of war are God’s judgment against a city or a country because of their rebellion and sin. A phrase often heard when immorality is exposed in a city or town is; “If God doesn’t do something about _________ He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!”
The truth is, God promised that if He found just ten righteous people, He would not destroy those cities (Gen 18:32). It is hard to comprehend that there aren’t at least ten ‘righteous’ people in every city in the world. The Bible tells us that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by their “pride, laziness, and gluttony” (Ezek 16:49 NLT). If that is the criteria for sending natural disasters as judgment, then there wouldn’t be one city or town left standing anywhere on the planet! As populations increase so will sin and its effects because more sinners equal more sin!
It is easy to feel betrayed and hard to reconcile “Acts of God” with a God of love. That is especially true if one has been taught that His love would protect them from any harm, keep them from every hurt and pain, or protect them from every sickness.
God Works for the Good
The Bible declares that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom 8:28 NIV).
Historically, this verse has been used to teach that every situation, no matter how terrible, will turn out “good” if a person loves God. The context of the verse is the fallen world, and that the entire world is subject to the bondage of corruption (Rom 8:21). This bondage is so widespread the whole world is groaning in pain (Rom 8:22), the Believer groans in pain (Rom 8:23) and even the Holy Spirit groans in pain (Rom 8:26). The groaning in this context is worldwide and appears to cover all of creation itself.
The Bible and life itself shows us that everything does not always work for good for those who love God. God wants everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. He wants people to obey and love Him, but not all people will. It is clear that things don’t work together for good for God either.
God cannot make everything good, but in every situation, He works for the good of those who love Him. Just as by His sovereign power, He entered into the world as human flesh in the person of Jesus. God’s great promise is that He will enter into every life circumstance and put forth His sovereign power on behalf of every Believer and work together with them to produce what He knows to be the very best for them because He is a good God and only wants the best for them.