It seems that nearly every week we hear of another tragedy in which innocent lives have been taken in a senseless attack. Whether the attacker wields a gun, a knife, a bomb, a motor vehicle, or some other weapon, innocent people end up wounded or dead. Not so long ago most of these attacks occurred in other countries and in areas that have long been subject to such things. Today, however, it seems that people are not even safe in places of worship in the backwaters of our land. The pointless loss of life is heart-rending, and the physical and emotional scars borne by the survivors will linger for years.
We wonder why such terrible things happen, but we are shaken to the core when these things happen to good and innocent people. It is not uncommon to hear people ask, “Where was God when this happened?” Or to ask, “Why did God allow this to happen?” Others may even go so far as to blame God for the tragedy simply because He didn’t intervene to keep it from happening. None of these views reflects a proper understanding of God, or of how He deals with the world. Neither do they reflect an understanding of the presence and effects of sin in the world.
When we search the scriptures we nowhere find a promise from God that He will intervene in the day to day affairs of mankind. Nowhere do we find any indication that those who belong to Him will be miraculously spared from suffering, injury, or death. Instead, the scriptures warn us not to place stock in the world or the things in it, because this world is not our goal, and everything in it will one day pass away (1 Jn. 2:15-17). In fact, our Lord promised us that while we are in the world we will suffer tribulation (Jn. 16:33).
The bad things that happen to good people are not the work of God. Neither are they due to His negligence. They are the result of the presence of sin in the world, and the source of sin is Satan (cf. Gen. 3:1-7). From the time he deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, the world has been cursed by sin. The perfect world that God created became marred and will remain so until the physical realm is destroyed when the Lord returns (2 Pet. 3:10-13). Until that time, all who live on the earth will suffer the effects of sin.
Those who are believers will not be deterred by this fact of life. This is because they understand that something far better awaits them on the other side of life. The Lord promised the apostles that He was going away to prepare a place for them and that He would return one day to bring them to that place (Jn. 14:1-3). All believers share in this promise, and therefore can cheerfully sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.”
Even so, our faith is sorely tested when bad things happen to good people, and we struggle with how to deal with it. When all is said and done, there is only one solution to this dilemma, and that is for each of us to make sure we are right with God at all times. If we obey the gospel and live faithfully for the Lord each day, we can say as Paul did, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). We also can look forward to the promise that in heaven God the Father will wipe away every tear and there will no longer be any death, mourning, or crying (Rev. 21:1-4).
Satan wants us to blame God for the bad things that happen, but his goal is to keep us out of our eternal reward. Let us not lose hope, though, but continue to trust in God, because heaven will certainly be worth it.