By Pastor Scott Osenbaugh, The Healing Place
(Nashville Assembly of God)
“But they were such good, Christian people! What a terrible thing to happen to them!”
It has become a rallying cry for those wanting to claim believing in God is foolish and nothing more than a myth. Such claim that a good God who allows tragedy to come into the lives of people is not really a good God. Much of the argument follows the reasonings of the 19th century skeptic, David Hume, who said that if God is able to prevent such pain and does not, then He is not loving, and if He is not able to prevent such pain, then He is not God at all. It does boggle the mind at times how those who served the Lord with all their hearts wind up going through all kinds of suffering, pain and even death. The history of the Christian church is awash with the accounts of those who chose to die for their faith rather than turn their back on the Savior.
When tragedy slams against someone who is a believer in Christ, is there any way to make sense out of what happened? What can be said, if there is anything to be said, when the pain is the most acute?
It’s important to understand any tsunami of tragic things is not God’s doing. He is the God from whom every good and perfect gift comes (James 1:17), whose very nature is that of love (1 John 4:7-8). Horrible accidents, lingering illnesses, terminal diagnoses — none of these things are from God. The stark and sometimes misunderstood truth is simple: evil in the world is the result of man’s sin and rebellion against God. Death entered the world through sin (Romans 5:12), man’s sin, not from God’s choice. There’s nothing in the Bible that guarantees insulation for Christians from the effects of sin and death in the world. Blaming God for that terrible event or debilitating sickness misses the truth: He is not responsible for it, for any of it — man is, by his own choice to reject submission to the Creator.
So, what can be said to someone who is going through a crisis, one that seems it will end or has ended with loss and pain? Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all, not ignoring but sitting with, simply feeling the other person’s pain and weeping with them. Many people have this innate desire to make it all better, and say cliches and aphorisms that are meant to help but are usually nothing more than words in the air. People in pain don’t need quick fixes and witty phrases. They need friends who will love them through the pain, who will say, “what can I do, right now, for you?” and who follow through without judging or criticism. None of us is so wise we understand the “why” of what happens; better it is to love unconditionally and believe for the comforting arms of Jesus.
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