Why? Why did this happen? Why did God let this happen? Why did God let this happen to me? These are questions often asked when we hear about or experience a natural disaster, horrific mass murder, or injustice. The last question is often asked during a time of personal crisis. Pastors and Christian helpers often struggle with just how to respond.
Why bad things happen:
1. The theological answer is simple.
Evil is in the world today because of original sin. Read Genesis 3. We live in a fallen world under the curse of sin. Struggle, disease, and evil desires of men thrive in a fallen world. Personal sin is often a cause of suffering. It could be considered punishment or simply the logical consequence of our rebellion and bad decisions. Understanding the theological answer is hard. The sovereignty of God is impossible for an unbeliever to understand. New or immature believers struggle with the fact of God’s sovereignty. Even mature believers have trouble explaining the concept that God is sovereign, in control, and Lord of all and yet bad things happen.
2. To teach us to depend on God.
After accepting the fact that sin corrupted everything and causes suffering, a second reason becomes apparent. Because of sin, we are selfish. We live as though have a focus on ourselves that keeps God compartmentalized while living our lives. Because we are self-reliant, God is not needed until we want something from him. When something happens that makes us realize that we are not in control, we turn to God. Proverbs 3:5-6 provides clear instruction —“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
3. To enable us to be better able to help someone else.
After accepting the fact that we must rely on God, a third reason for suffering can be recognized. God can better use us to help someone else who is suffering. If course, it is not a requirement to have experienced a similar tragic event to help someone through theirs. But we are often more aware of how to help and the person may take comfort in knowing that they are not the only ones to face suffering. The assurance that you made it through with God’s help may give them hope.
The fact is, the “why” questions are good to ask if asked with the right attitude. “Why” is often asked with an accusing, self-righteous attitude. The assumption of the question is: “this should not have happened to me” so why? The correct attitude is to ask why with an attitude of submission and willingness to learn the answer. We sometimes suffer just because we are believers. 1 Peter 5 explains that Christians will suffer and be persecuted for their faith. But the final result is comforting. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10