Does God Allow Tragedy?
Last Sunday I preached a message recognizing the victims of the Texas church shooting while answering the question of whether God allows these tragedies to occur or not. I’ve heard a lot of talking heads on T.V. and radio try to understand a spiritual problem through their carnal minds. Here are some key thoughts I shared with our congregation.
Does God Allow These Types of Events or Not?
The answer is “YES, God does allow these things to happen.” Because God knows in advance and has the ability to stop it, you have to conclude that God does allow these tragedies to happen.
The premise of the question
While we concede that God does allow these things to happen, the premise of the question is to lay culpability for the crimes of others onto God. We could ask the same question about a million other events.
- Did God allow Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit?
- Did God allow Cain to slay his brother?
- Did God allow David to commit adultery?
- Did God allow John the Baptist to be beheaded?
- Did God allow Hitler to kill 6 million Jews?
- Did God allow that plane to crash?
The true blame for death and suffering lays not at the feet of a holy God, but it lies with all of us as sinners. You and I are not directly to blame for the deaths of the 26 victims of last Sunday, but we are all responsible for there being death in the world. Sin brings death, and because we are sinners, we bring death.
- Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
A question of free-will
If God did not “ALLOW” us to choose, there would be no suffering. If God stopped every mistake, error, crime, poor choice, bad reaction, it would mean that you and I are not free to choose. God is not allowing us to do anything except what is right and good, thus eliminating sin and death.
- If God stopped Adam and Eve, there would be no sin in the world.
- God would have had to keep stopping them for the rest of their lives.
- God would have to stop us every time we face temptation.
If God didn’t want us to have free-will, he would not have created us a living soul, rather He would have created us as animals. God does want us to choose, and we want to be able choose. That freedom to choose brought about sin and sin brought about death. Thus the culpability for the death sin brings lies at the feet of sinful man.
Why Does God Allow Tragedy?
Is it to punish sin?
God has judged sinful societies in the past
- The whole world at the flood
- Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone
- Israel with pestilence during David’s reign
God will judge the world again in the future
These were supernatural events orchestrated by God in holy judgment on sin. However, we are speaking about a tragedy perpetrated by man. There is a relevant passage of Scripture
- Luke 13:1-5 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
The two examples the Lord gave were of some Galileans who Pilate slew and a tower that collapsed killing 18. These were tragedies that were the result of living in an imperfect world. We are all potential victims of a tragedy!
Is it because God is cruel and malevolent?
- 1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Why God Allows Tragedy
1. Because He is not responsible for suffering and death
We discussed earlier that God is not the author of death and suffering, man is because of His sin. Blaming God for allowing tragedy is akin to blaming you for allowing crime in your neighborhood. You are not responsible for the crimes of others.
- Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
2. Because He is not obligated to stop the consequences of sin
Because we are all sinners, we are all worthy of death. The fact that we are not immediately judged when we sin is God’s mercy and longsuffering. Suffering and death are the consequences of sin. God will not stop all suffering and death because He is righteous and holy.
Because He is love, he sent Christ to die and satisfy our sin debt so we could have everlasting life.
- Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die.
3. Because there is an eternal view we cannot see
If the suffering and death we experience here due to sin causes us to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness, then the consequences of sin have produced a greater good.
The suffering here is temporary, the suffering in hell is eternal.
God allows His people to suffer tragedy so that we can show the love and comfort of Christ to a suffering and dying world around us.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
Death for the believer is not an end or a tragedy; it is the start of a new life free from suffering and death.
- Ps 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
- Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Steps to Help Prevent a Tragedy Here
1. Be aware of your surroundings and your route of escape
- If you notice anything unusual, let someone know immediately.
- If you smell something burning, or unusual, report it.
2. Report any threats to the Pastor so we can respond accordingly
- It doesn’t matter if you think they are real threats, you need to let us know.
- If someone who is threatening you should enter the church property, you should immediately alert someone.
3. Pray for God’s Protection
- Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
- 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.