Another day, and another mass shooting (or more than one) hits the news. In the wake of these senseless acts many are drawn to ask some very straight forward questions…
How can a loving God fail to intervene and stop the harm that humans cause in this world?
If God has a plan for us, and for our lives, does that mean that part of His plan includes living in a world filled with such utter evil?
Is this really His plan?
I’ve struggled with these questions often. Yet my faith remains strong. In fact, my faith has grown along with my struggle.
I know there are those who don’t understand how that can be. I’m not going to pretend to have answers for anyone other than myself. My thoughts on this subject may not be helpful to you at all. But… if there is any chance that they might help, I would be remiss if I didn’t share them. So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I think.
I think that the core of our confusion comes from a misunderstanding about the nature of God Himself. Without intending to, or understanding that we’re doing it, we ascribe human qualities and attributes to God when we think about these things. We presume that God sees the world the same way that we do.
God is love. When He created us He created us to be able to experience Him. To have relationship with Him. To love Him. When we love, we are engaging in relationship with God.
In order for our ability to love to have meaning we must also have the ability to not love. God gave us the choice to love or not in order for us to be able to comprehend His love for us.
Think for a moment of some of the great opposites of life.
Light and dark.
We can’t understand light, without dark. One requires the other in order to provide the framework for understanding either.
Hot and cold… soft and hard… loud and soft…
Good and evil.
Love, or hate.
We can choose love… choose relationship with God.
We can choose to not love… we can reject God. The cumulative effect of the rejection of God is the introduction of evil into the world.
God knew that many would rebel against Him. But He also knew that many would choose to follow Him and have a relationship with Him.
God knew that the effect of those turning against Him would be suffering in the world. However, suffering was not His purpose. It’s a consequence of our rejection of Him. Yet, He takes our suffering and uses it for His purpose.
It’s through our suffering that we are able to gain sufficient perspective to understand what Grace is all about. God exists in a constant and unending state of Love that we can take part in. Without suffering His grace would have no meaning.
To appreciate light we have to experience dark.
In response to events such as these we have a choice. We can turn away from God or we can turn toward God. Through the suffering of His son, God has experienced human suffering at its worse. He understands our pain. He provides us with an option for relief from our pain. He offers us the opportunity to transcend our humanity and to join with Him in perfect eternal relationship of spirit.
I can’t say that I know how God will use these senseless acts for good. But… Here I am, writing about His love. Encouraging you to turn toward Him rather than away.
Here I am, stepping forward to be counted as a man of faith – and sharing my faith openly with others. This is not a path I imagined for myself.
In a strange, counterintuitive way, these tragedies strengthen my faith and my resolve to do my part to share the message of God’s love for us.