God is a loving God, but why do things like illness and murder and stuff like that happen to innocent people, especially children?
God has to choose whether to control everything that happens in the world, or to allow man freewill to choose his environment.
A long time ago Man told God to leave him alone and stop interfering in his life, and everyone who has ever lived, except one person, has echoed that opinion. It used to be called “original sin” by theologians, but “inherited sin” is now used and is more accurate.
That means that man gets to choose, but also has to live with the consequences of his choice.
That means that things happen which would not happen if God ruled.
They don’t just happen to the “innocent”. They happen to everybody. It’s just that we see the evil consequences of our decision much more starkly when they suffer. That should send us back to God, to mend our ways, to put the world right, to put ourselves under God’s protective umbrella.
But the heart of man is so blind that instead of turning to God, they turn away. They shout at God himself, blaming him for the consequences of the decisions made by us!
If we would let him into our world, then he would change it.
I was listening to a story today from an American man who lives with his wife in Papua, among the tribes, and they have a story of a baby being brought back from the dead in front of the whole tribe. It was a major breakthrough, and instead of the tribespeople resisting God, as they had been doing, they turned to him wholesale, and now 80% of the tribe are Christians, and they are planting churches in other tribes’ villages.
The man said there was not a man of his age and older in that tribe who did not know the taste of human flesh! Usually it would have been people from another tribe. Now they catch them for Jesus instead of for dinner!
So there is an area which has put itself back under God’s protective umbrella, and their suffering has been much reduced.
Does that mean there will be no suffering at all for them? No. They, and we, still live in a fallen world, in a fallen society, where many diseases and other evils have been brought upon us by our own hands.
Yet there are still other disasters which happen which are not so easy to relate to particular evil in men’s hearts, things like volcanoes and other natural disasters. What about them?
Even then we still must bear some responsibility. Many people who died in the Mount St Helens volcano eruption of a few years ago, had chosen to live on its slopes, knowing the possibility. Some even refused to leave their homes and possessions behind when it was clear there was something happening. We saw the same with hurricane Katrina over New Orleans. If people had left when the danger surfaced, they would have been OK, but many chose to ignore the possibility. Their possessions were more important to them.
And natural disasters are, in any case, a consequence of our racial decision to remove ourselves from God’s protection. So they are going to happen – to Christian and non-Christian, to young and old alike. They are part of a fallen world.
Yet even after all that, there are still occasions when children suddenly die, or some equally tragic circumstance happens, and there is no way it could relate to our sin. It’s not easy to understand these things, but there are a couple of things to be said.
God is a God of life and death. No-one lives or dies without his permission. And he does give his permission on a regular basis! Since 1900, one and a half BILLION people have died! Do you ask, “That is terrible! What evil natural disaster wiped out so many people? Why does the world not know of this? Why have we not had it reported?” No you don’t. The population of the whole world 107 years ago was one and a half billion, and only one century later, they are all gone!
So although any individual death fells tragic to those left behind, (because they miss the person who has died,) death is a normal part of life. We don’t realise that so much these days, because our modern society has insulated us from death – yet another instance of trying to deny that there is anything wrong, so no-one will get so worried they will cast themselves on God for his mercy.
So the fact that somebody has died is not a cause for complaint against God.
Another thing is that we do know that God is just. His justice is perfect. So the things which seem to us unjust only seem so because our eyes do not see much of what God does.
None of this means that, when faced with someone who is suffering, we should make light of it or try to explain it away. Suffering is real. But God has put us there to be with others in it. We now bear responsibility for encouraging them to turn to God IN their suffering, and being with them ourselves through it all, because he is the one who can give them peace in all circumstances.
And there will always be the possibility of praying for them, and maybe with them. God certainly does intervene in human affairs, when he is invited to. Maybe you will see a miracle! You certainly won’t if you don’t pray.
There’s much more to be said. Whole books have been written on this subject, but I hope this has given a background to your thoughts, I’d be glad to hear comments, and further ideas!