In the aftermath of the horrible theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, one local pastor asked the question, “Why did God allow this to happen?” and his answer was, “I don’t know.” It’s a common knee-jerk question we ask whenever there is a tragedy. It happened after 9/11, after the Colombine murders, after Hurricaine Katrina, and will probably always be asked. My response to this question is simple: “Trash that question, and go back and start all over with a different question!”
The minute we ask the question, “Why did God allow this to happen?”, we have already lost. We are working from the faulty presupposition that God should shield us from all evil, and if He doesn’t He is not loving. That is not a valid argument. God is all goodness, all truth, all beauty; He cannot do evil. Directly or indirectly, all evil comes from Satan. He brings evil into the world hoping we will blame God, declare Him unloving, and separate from Him, whereupon he can simply reel us in as he snickers at how easily we were duped. How come no one responds to tragedies by saying, “Satan, why do you hate God so much that you’re leading people to do all kinds of evil and blame God for it?” No, everyone blames God. But when we respond to tragedies not by asking why God allowed it but by turning to Him for comfort and for wisdom in how to respond, we discover that instead of the evil turning us away from God, we let it turn us to God; in effect, we use the devil’s own weapons against him! We destroy evil by its own power. That’s what Jesus did by the cross. The devil seduced Judas and the High Priests to betray Him and hand Him over to the Romans, and Pilate was too weak to defend Him and sent Him to the cross. Satan must have been laughing the whole time, figuring he finally had his victory over God by getting Him killed. I can just hear him saying, “You call yourself a God?! You came and told them how important they are to you and how much you love them, and instead of loving you back, they confused you with me, declared you evil, and crucified you! You think you’re so loving? Well, look at how they responded to your love. You’re just pathetic!” He couldn’t have been more wrong! In the midst of his celebration, Jesus pulled the rug right out from under his victory by rising from the dead! Now the Lord can turn to Satan and say, “Look! You thought you defeated me, but I defeated you! I just freed every prisoner you had, and have now turned your greatest weapon – death – into their greatest triumph! Now when they die, they will enter my kingdom and not yours. The only ones you’ll have are those who reject me and refuse to follow me.” Of course, ever since that time, Satan knows his time is short and he’s on a mission to win back as many souls as he can. In addition to false promises and the quest for pleasure, one of his most effective tools is to get us to blame God when he works evil deeds.
Making sense out of tragedies is never easy, especially for families who lose a loved one because of them. But if we want healing, the only way to find it is not to blame God and ask why He allowed it but to turn to God and ask Him how he wishes us to respond so as to bring us through the tragedy and closer to His redeeming embrace.