Malinda was extremely worried and brought a recent problem to her Bible class. Perhaps you have encountered a similar problem. She was deeply concerned for her family and their eternal destiny. They claimed they didn’t believe in hell but did believed there was a God. The bigger problem was they couldn’t understand why God allowed bad things to happen especially as related in the news today with all the natural disasters and wars. What do you say to Malinda? What can she share with her friend?
This situation confronts one of life’s hard questions: “Why does God allow suffering in the world?” Or “Why to bad things happen to good people?”
We don’t have all the answers but its good to know the One who does so start with prayer. Ask God to provide inner peace and the wisdom to be a comfort to others in need. (James 1:5, Col 1:9-10 ) God’s ways are not our ways and we cannot presume to know all the answers, but we can look to His Word and His character.
There are actually several issues being addressed at the same time so in order to help let’s start by separating them.
1. They don’t believe in hell. Many people don’t “believe” in God or the Bible, but that doesn’t make it untrue. What we believe or don’t believe has little bearing on the truth
For example: I could say I don’t believe in gravity, but if I step off a high roof I’ll experience it in a powerful way. John 17:17 Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free, and you will be free indeed.”
2. The place called Hell : Hell is identified in the Bible created as a literal place of punishment for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41). It was never intended for mankind. Man’s choice to ignore God and choose the sin of disobedience and disbelief as presented by Satan opened the way to eternal destruction. (Romans 5:12) Death, disease, destruction, evil on earth came from the original choice of mankind represented by Adam and Eve.
God has many qualities including grace and justice. Because He is just He must punish sin which is death (eternal separation from God) and the reality of a second death into place called Hell is the result (Rev. 21:8 )
God is also full of grace and paid for the penalty Himself through God the Son, Jesus Christ, (John 3:16). He is not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)… but it is again each person’s free will and choice even today to accept or reject that payment.
3. Why does God allow bad things to happen? This is one of the universal multi-faceted questions that most people ask at one point in their life. It always amazes me that they tell God to get out of schools and their lives and then He gets blamed for the bad things that befall them. What they are saying seems to imply either God is not powerful enough to prevent bad things from happening or that God is not good.
The events of the crucifixion were evil – but for a good purpose- the salvation of man. (Acts 2:23-24)
Here is a direct response that may help (Remember: O.N.E.)
a. Origin of “bad” or “evil” – God’s world was created perfect…mankind’s choice brought in evil, death, destruction, disease through sin (Rom 5:12). But God can use the bad and the fallen to bring good out of it (Roman 8:28).
b. Nature of God: God is full of grace and forgiveness – ready to receive anyone who will accept the way He provided and paid for. (John 14:6/ I John 1:9)
c. End of it all: The good news is God will one day put an end to all evil, pain and death (Rev. 21:4) providing a new heaven and earth for His children.
We cannot know the answer to a specific crisis in each life. We can wait on God for His plan to unfold completely trusting He knows and cares. Remember, without many disasters and martyred saints many would not personally find God in the first place. Through the peace of God exhibited by the suffering Christian, others would not find their way to the truth either. They are lights in this dark and fallen world. (Study the injustice and suffering of people like Joseph, Daniel and Job in the Bible who all had a divine purpose beyond the understanding in our finite minds – done God’s way). (Isaiah 45:6-7)
Make sure you are “witnessing” in God’s power and not your own:
- Can you remember a time in your life when you trusted Jesus Christ as your own personal savior? (John 1:12) You can learn more at a new Billy Graham website: http://peacewithgod.jesus.org
- Child of God go to the source of the power first: PRAY
- See the issue from God’s purpose and insight. Admit our ways are not His ways but TRUST and wait.
It’s ok to say, “I don’t know but God does- let me share some of His words with you”. Use God’s Word liberally.
Good website for hard questions: http://answersingenesis.org
2. Each new trial and test is also meant to increase your faith as well.
3. Know your part and God’s part of each situation – (Proverbs 3:5,6)
There are many stories of impossible decisions for Christ that can be found in toolkits’ blog as illustrations as well as your own personal testimony. For more ideas see Blog's below.
May the Lord use you to minister to many others before He returns. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7