Summary: Lee Strobel presents a message to a Colorado church shortly after the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.

It was the worst mass shooting in American history – 70 people shot by a gunman, 12 of them killed, while they were watching the midnight showing of a new movie just 21 miles from where we’re sitting. There are no words to describe the anguish being felt by those who are suffering today; our heart and prayers have – and will – go out to them. There are so many tragic stories, so much pain. And many people are asking the question, “Why? Why did God allow this?”

This has been a heart-rending summer for Colorado. First came the wildfires, which ravaged the houses of hundreds of our neighbors – and prompted many of them to ask the question, “Why?”

And those two tragic events are on top of the everyday pain and suffering being experienced in individual lives – maybe including yours. There’s illness, abuse, broken relationships, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death. And perhaps you’ve been asking the question, “Why? Why me? Why now?”

That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. And the 21st Century didn’t start any better. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why all of this if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Several years ago, I commissioned a national survey and asked people what question they’d ask if they could only ask God one thing. The Number One response was: “Why is there suffering in the world?” Incidentally, I did find an interesting statistical quirk – people who are married were much more likely to want to know why there’s so much suffering. I’m just sayin’.

But if you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, you will when they strike you with full force or they come to a loved one. And Jesus said they are coming. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as just being illusions, Jesus was honest. He told us the truth. He said in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might – he said it is going to happen.

But why? If you ask me point-blank, “Why did God allow the gunman to spray the Aurora movie theater with gunfire just two days ago?”, the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words – “I do not know.”

I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. First Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

So when you ask about specific individual events and want to know why this particular thing happened, we won’t get the full answer in this world. Someday we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective. And frankly, the people suffering from the Aurora tragedy don’t need a big theological treatise right now; any intellectual response is going to seem trite and inadequate. What they desperately need now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I’m so grateful that so many churches and ministries of this community are helping them experience that.

But for us, let’s focus on the big, overarching issue of why God generally allows suffering in our lives – your life and mine. Friends, this is important: even though we can’t understand everything about it, we can understand some things. Let me give you an analogy.

Once Leslie and I were driving from Chicago to Door County, Wisconsin, which is that thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. We were driving up the highway in the dark, when it started raining heavily and we hit dense fog. I could barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road. I couldn’t stop because I was afraid someone might come along and rear-end us. It was frightening!

But then a truck appeared in front of us and we could clearly see his taillights through the fog. He apparently had fog lamps in front, because he was traveling at a confident and deliberate pace, and I knew if we could just follow those taillights, we’d be headed in the right direction.

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Talk about it...

Jerry Burns

commented on Jul 25, 2012

Lee, Thanks for the message. However, I think we need to be careful about making the statement that God is not the author nor the Creator of Evil. The Bible clearly states that He did create it! He also brings it upon His creation. I am not trying to refute the basic premise of your message. Just urging caution about that blanket statement. Please reference these verses from the KJV. Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL: I the LORD do all these things.” Jeremiah 44:2 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein.” God bless!

Todd Clippard

commented on Jul 25, 2012

What happened in Aurora was a moral evil, which is not the "evil" under discussion in these texts. Your application of evil in these texts cannot be reconciled with James 1:13 nor with 1 Corinthians 10:13. Moreover, accusing God of creating moral evil denies his utter holiness (Hab 1:13).

Jerry Burns

commented on Jul 25, 2012

Thanks Todd for your reasoned response. I don''t want to belabor the point or be contentious in any way, however, the Bible clearly indicates that God has a wrathful side. Who is going to bring wrath and judgement during the Tribulation? I know it''s not popular to bring up the subject of God''s wrath in this age of tolerance. However, we cannot simply try and explain away these scriptures that mean exactly what they say. Here is another one to consider: Proverbs 16:4 “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the WICKED for the day of EVIL.” God bless!


commented on Aug 6, 2012

I just wanted to say that all this things happen cause God Loves us and he dosent wants us to go the wrong way first all of is a movie theater for christians?...i dont think so people are going there and filling themselves with evil by watching the moives and after we ask God why is my life like this...for us Christians we need to wake up and dont cross the line that God made beacuse his Yesterday today and forever the same his word dosent change so maybe we just need to look over our lifes and ask ourselves am i doing the things that Jesus would do?...would Jesus go to a movie Theater with you? the answer is clearly no so if we are going to the places where Jesus woudnt go we cant expect him to protect us we always have to be in that place where he wants us to be..imagine if we we all people would instead of watching some kind off movie rather read the Bible and prayed how much the world would be better its just so much people are blinded and think they arent thats why we ask him questions why?...God Bless You all!!!

James Price

commented on Aug 6, 2012

Did God create evil? If my son chooses to disregard what I have taught him and goes off and commits evil acts, I suppose you could say I created that evil because my son came from me. So indirectly not directly, the evil was part of what I created. I don''t believe God creates evil but what He did create chooses to do evil. (Right or wrong, just another way to look at the question) God Bless


commented on Aug 7, 2012

God dosent creates evil but he allows it to happen by just removing his hand from us when we dont obey him...yes he created humans but not all of the people are from him some are from the devil and he is there father and they do evil things beacuse they are his children..if we are Children of God then our lives will be according to hes word and people we know us they will tell the diffrence by just look at us what we do..not by our words but by our deeds beacuse lots of people are calling them selves christians today but if you look at there life its nowhere near to the word of God and they just embaress christianty...

Kent Purk

commented on Jun 20, 2013

Great sermon!

Dennis Datu

commented on Mar 15, 2019

Isaiah 45:7 in the King James Version reads, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” How does Isaiah 45:7 agree with the view that God did not create evil? There are two key facts that need to be considered. (1) The word translated “evil” is from a Hebrew word that means “adversity, affliction, calamity, distress, misery.” Notice how the other major English Bible translations render the word: “disaster” (NIV, HCSB), “calamity” (NKJV, NAS, ESV), and “woe” (NRSV). The Hebrew word can refer to moral evil, and often does have this meaning in the Hebrew Scriptures. However, due to the diversity of possible definitions, it is unwise to assume that “I create evil” in Isaiah 45:7 refers to God bringing moral evil into existence. (2) The context of Isaiah 45:7 makes it clear that something other than “bringing moral evil into existence” is in mind. The context of Isaiah 45:7 is God rewarding Israel for obedience and punishing Israel for disobedience. God pours out salvation and blessings on those whom He favors. God brings judgment on those who continue to rebel against Him. “Woe to him who quarrels with his Master” (Isaiah 45:9). That is the person to whom God brings “evil” and “disaster.” So, rather than saying that God created “moral evil,” Isaiah 45:7 is presenting a common theme of Scripture – that God brings disaster on those who continue in hard-hearted rebellion against Him.

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