Where Is God When We Hurt?
By Mark A. Finley
Devastating natural disasters, unprecedented acts of terror, random violence, and senseless killings leave us asking questions that baffle us. For example, on December 14, 2012, a young man shot his way into a locked elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, brutally murdering 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.
In the aftermath of this horrific act one woman wept uncontrollably and wandered down the school’s driveway, crying, “Why? Why? Why?”
When we face life’s tragedies and experience life’s sorrows, this sobbing woman’s question is our question too. And we must admit there are no easy answers.
But the Bible provides us with hope and encouragement in these times of grief. In this month’s lesson we will discover what’s behind the suffering in our world, and where to find comfort when tragedy strikes.
1. Where did evil ultimately originate? Read Revelation 12:7-9; John 8:44; Matthew 13:13.
It may seem strange, but evil originated in heaven, in the mind of a beautiful angel. God created all His creatures with the power of choice. God values our freedom. To take away the power of choice because it might be used wrongly is to take away the ability to love, for love can never be forced or coerced.
2. Did God create a demonic angel bent on evil? Read Ezekiel 28:12-15.
Lest we miss the point, the prophet Ezekiel mentions twice that Lucifer was created perfect (Eze. 28:12, 15). The prophet then adds, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (verse 17).
The Bible is plain: God did not create a devil; He created a beautiful angel who chose to rebel against his Creator and corrupted himself.
3. What was Lucifer’s motive? Read Isaiah 14:12-14. What went on in his mind that led to his rebellion against God?
4. Read Genesis 1:27, 31; 3:1-7. How did earth become involved in this conflict? Did God create this world as a place to get rid of Satan?
God created this world perfect. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created in God’s image. They too were given the power of choice. Faced with the temptations of the evil one, they listened to his enticing deceptions and disobeyed God. Since the wages of sin are death, they would have died immediately had not Jesus assured them of His love and promised to come as the world’s Messiah (see Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Gen. 3:15; Rev. 13:8).
5. Although Jesus died to assure us of eternal life, where is He when we suffer today? Read Isaiah 41:10; 43:1-3; Hebrews 13:5, 6.
6. Read 1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 2:14-17; 4:14-16; Matthew 11:28-30. Does God really understand what we are going through on this earth? Do we matter to Him individually?
Jesus experienced the full range of emotions that we experience. He suffered physical, mental, and emotional pain. He was tempted in “all things” as we are. He understands our pain and offers us comfort and strength when we hurt.
7. Will evil last forever? When will it end? Read Ezekiel 28:17-19 and Revelation 21:1-4.
Pain, suffering, and sorrow will not last forever. In moments of despair, look up—Jesus will return and put an end to sin forever. One day there will be no more sickness, heartache, famine, violence, and death. One day love will reign in the universe, and God will wipe away our tears forever.