Where’s God in a World with So Much Death and Suffering?

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We’re a month or so into the year 2020, and already it’s been a hard year from a news perspective—headlines declaring threats of war in the Middle East, wildfires ravaging Australia claiming human lives and property, as well as nature, and, most recently, the untimely death of US basketball star Kobe Bryant, his young daughter, and friends, and the deadly coronavirus spreading quickly in China and abroad, awakening fears of a pandemic. These headlines make many people ask, “Where’s God in a world of so much death, disease, and suffering?”

Start at the Very Beginning

To answer that question, we’ve got to start at the very beginning—in Genesis.

To answer that question, we’ve got to start at the very beginning—in Genesis. Genesis 1:31 tells us the state of God’s original creation was “very good”; it was perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). There was no death, disease, or suffering—no war (there were only two people originally anyway!), no disastrous wildfires, no accidental deaths, no deadly viruses. God’s creation lived in harmony, with even bacteria and viruses performing “very good” functions (as most still do today).

Of course, that’s not the way creation is anymore—if that isn’t obvious from your personal experience, thirty seconds on any news site will tell you that much! And we haven’t even discussed the worldview battles regarding morality raging about us as well because it’s a fallen world. And the history recorded in God’s Word tells us why.

One Choice Broke It All

The first two people God created, Adam and Eve, had a choice: obey God or rebel against him. They chose to rebel against God, eating the fruit from the one tree he had commanded them not to eat from. The just punishment for rebellion against the Creator of the universe is death (Genesis 2:17). Their choice broke God’s once-very-good creation. It was cursed (Genesis 3) and now groans because of the effects of human sin (Romans 8:22).

The death, suffering, natural disasters, wars, accidents, and diseases we experience today are because of man’s sin in Adam and our continued sin (Romans 5:12). So, they aren’t God’s fault, and they aren’t evidence of God ignoring his creation. They remind us of man’s sin, the brokenness sin brings, and our desperate need of someone to save us from our sin! That someone is the Lord Jesus Christ, who offers the free gift of salvation from sin and access to a heavenly home so wonderful that the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

“Repent or You Will All Likewise Perish”

So, where’s God in all of this? We know from Scripture that bad things happen because our world is sin-cursed and broken, but many people wonder, “Why that person? Why that event? Where’s God in that?”

Well, those in Jesus’ day asked Jesus a similar question. Trying to make sense of the death of some Galileans at the hands of Pilate, they told Jesus about it in Luke 13. His reply was,

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

God’s Word gives us the big picture perspective and the hope we need to endure during our suffering.

Jesus is God, and he is all knowing. He could have explained exactly why those particular people died tragically (just as God could have explained to Job why he suffered so much). But he didn’t. Instead, he pointed them to the truth that we all die—and if you don’t repent, you too will perish.

We all have unanswered questions about death and suffering; it’s part of having finite human knowledge. But God’s Word gives us the big picture perspective and the hope we need to endure during our suffering.

Ultimate Hope in Christ

Jesus Christ, the God-man, stepped into history and lived the perfect life we could never live. He then willingly died on the cross, taking our sin and our penalty of death for us. He—the sinless, perfect Lamb of God—died in place of sinful, rebellious mankind. He then rose from the grave, conquering death. Now he offers all the free gift of eternal life. He paid for our sins, so we don’t have to! Instead, if we repent, we are clothed in his righteousness and receive eternal life with him in heaven. For those who have placed their faith and trust in Christ as Lord, death no longer holds its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55)—we have hope for now and eternity!

That’s the good news of the gospel, and it’s the message everyone needs to hear!

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15) but “repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19) for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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