“If there is a God, then why doesn’t he do something about the pain and suffering in the world?”
That may be the most common question Christians hear about their faith. Even we wonder about this sometimes. What kind of God would allow innocent children to be abused? Does God simply not care about war, illness, pain? Or is he unable to do something about it?
This week I want to help people see that God is up to something good in the world. Here are some reasons we sometimes fail to see that, and some ways to get tuned in on what God is doing. Can you think of others?
We think of salvation as a future-only event.
While it is true that our hope is for eternal life in heaven, most of us place too much stake on the future aspect of salvation. We are “saved” in that we have a guaranteed spot in heaven. Sort of like a boarding pass. As a result, we really don’t expect God to do much for us at the moment. We’re trying to survive long enough to get to heaven.
But God is saving the world now. Salvation isn’t only a guarantee of future happiness; God intends to restore what has gone wrong in the world.
What would God do in your life right now if I were open to it?
Look look mostly at our own lives and not at what God is doing in others.
The great gift of Evangelical theology is the celebration of personal salvation–Jesus loves me. But in God’s view, salvation has always been a corporate event. God doesn’t want to save individuals only–he is creating a people who are saved.
As with most things, when we look only at ourselves we don’t see much. Look beyond your life to see what God is doing in your church, or what he might do through you if you were more united.
What is God doing around you, even if you don’t feel personally affected by it?
We lack patience.
Q: Why did we invent instant messages? A: Because e-mail is too slow.
It should be no surprise that the same society that invented instant messages, publishing on demand, and overnight shipping has little patience with a God who takes 1,000 years to get things done.
But justice delayed is not justice denied. The fact that God has not yet settled all accounts, balanced all the scales, punished all the wicked, and rewarded all the faithful doesn’t mean he isn’t going to. Patience is a cardinal virtue for good reason. We need it to tolerate this life, in which God is working–and Satan is too.
What might God be doing in the world that you are in too big a hurry to see?
We expect God to do all the work.
When my kids say, “What’s for lunch?” what they really mean is “When are you going to feed me?” When I say, “There’s plenty of bread, make yourself a sandwich,” they call me hateful names
I think we pull a version of that stunt when we ask, “Why doesn’t God do anything about suffering?” A better question might be “Why don’t we?”
Beginning with the Exodus and continuing through Jesus’ Great Commission, God never promised that he would do all the work. Moses had to go back and face Pharaoh. Jesus said, “Go … I will be with you always,” not “Sit back and watch me work.” We are expected to join God in the work of saving the world. He provides the power; we provide the manpower.
What can you do to make the world a better place?
This week I’d like to help people see that God is doing something good in the world in spite of how it may appear at any given moment. God is up to something good, and I want to inspire others to join him.
What do you think? Do you see evidence of God’s work in the world? What would you say to someone who asks “Why doesn’t God do something about evil?”