It was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years. Last Wednesday a 19-year-old student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The end result was 17 people lost their lives and so many others were wounded. There are no words to describe the anguish being felt by those who are suffering. Our prayers have and will continue to go out to them. There are so many tragic stories, so much pain. And many are asking questions like “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why would God allow this?”
A national survey was taken several years ago that asked people what question they’d ask God if they could ask Him one thing. The number one response was: “Why is there suffering in the world?” Why would God allow this young man to open fire on so many innocent people? The only answer I can give is “I don’t know.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 says “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything completely. In other words, someday, we will see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. So, when I’ve been prompted to ask God “Why?”, I look at some key biblical truths.
Here are a couple: The first truth is God is not the creator of evil and suffering. When God created the world in Genesis 1:31 it says, “God saw all He had made, and it was very good.” So, if God is not the creator of evil and suffering where did it come from? When God decided to create human beings, he wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to decide whether to love or not to love. Love always involves a choice. Unfortunately, we have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. As a result, that has led to “Moral Evil.” Moral Evil is the immorality and suffering and evil that comes because we choose to be selfish, uncaring and abusive. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So much of the worlds suffering results from our sinful actions. For example, people look at starvation and wonder where God is, but the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed. In other words: Look at your hand. You choose to use that hand to shoot someone, or you can use it to feed hungry people. It’s your choice. But it’s unfair to shoot someone and then blame God for the existence of evil and suffering. Like the old saying goes “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”
The second truth is: We decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage. We’ve all seen examples of how the same suffering that causes one person to turn bitter and reject God can cause another person to turn to God, to become more gentle and willing to reach out to help other people in pain. We make the choice to either run away from God or run to Him. But what happens when we run to Him? John 16:33 Jesus says “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world.” Jesus offers the two things we need when we’re hurting: peace to deal with our present and courage to deal with our future. So, when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will you can make a choice to run into His arms and you’ll find the peace to deal with your present, courage to deal with your future and the promise of eternal life in heaven.