I encourage you to reject God if he wants people to suffer or if you could be a better God than him. You should tell such a beast:
God of the Bible, I donít even know if you exist or whether I am talking to myself, but even if you do exist, if you are a God who is unfair or delights in people suffering, I want nothing to do with you. Iíd rather be tortured forever in hell than serve you if you are cold and heartless or selfish or arrogant.
I donít think Iím wrong, but if you do exist, then because you are God, you are difficult to know. And if there are also evil, though lesser, spiritual beings, I guess it might be possible that I have somehow misunderstood you. If I have been blaming you for things that break your own heart; if you are actually utterly unselfish and good and fair and wise and really want what is best for me, then perhaps it would be worth my while to know.
It seems beyond belief, but if you have a soft heart and truly feel my pain and you want to use your enormous power and wisdom to please me; if knowing you is the greatest thing that could ever happen to me, causing me to rise to my highest potential and filling me with eternal fulfillment; and if my whole eternity hinges on me making this magnificent discovery, then not only do I need to know, I want to know.
Since I canít see the spiritual world, Iím dependent upon you showing yourself to me. If you are God, you are so superior to me that I cannot put demands on you. Anything you choose to show me must be on your terms Ė your time and your method. If I stubbornly refuse to believe unless you move a mountain or some such thing, youíll know Iím not sincere. And why should you bother showing yourself to anyone who would continue to ignore you even after you let me know you are real? So letís do a deal. If the truth is that you are not worthy of my love, I will reject you for all eternity, no matter how much that costs me. For as long as it takes, however, I will remain open to you showing me the truth about yourself.
I know I canít fool you. I canít expect a angry Ďprove yourself to me or elseí to move you, but if you are good, a sincere desire for truth on my part will touch you. If you somehow show me that you are a God whose love and wisdom can be fully trusted; that you are the God who made me and wants the best for me, I will give you your rightful place as God of my life. And if you show me that I need to trust Jesus alone to be made clean enough to be friends with the holy God of perfection, then I will do this.
You have begun an exciting adventure if you really mean that prayer and stay willing for God to show you what he is really like. Donít expect much, however, if you hardly mean the prayer or quickly forget it.
No one in a lifetime has been so rejected, so misunderstood, so much hated without cause as God is every moment of every day by millions of people, each of whom he loves more than we could imagine. No one is touched as deeply by peopleís pain as the God who made them. No one is as aware of suffering people as God is, and no one loves as much as God loves. And your pain increases his pain.
Even when the cause seems beyond human influence, all heartache can be traced not to what God wants, but to people going against God wants. Many things are unclear or unknown to us Ė the view from eternity, the spirit world, the complex chain of events set off from person to person and generation to generation whenever anything happens.
In a childrenís story, King Midasís wish came true and everything he touched turned to gold. It was wonderful Ė until everything he tried to eat turned to gold. Realizing that he would starve to death, he was sure things could get no worse. Then his child touched him and turned to gold. Compared to the all-knowing Lord, we are as short-sighted as King Midas. We have no idea of all that would happen if our wishes came true.
We try to match our tiny minds against the Infinite Mind of God, using brain cells he gave us to try to out-think him. If Godís ways donít always make sense to us it merely proves that our combined brainpower could not so much as light a few stars in the sky. And too often we confuse a good life with a soft life. In our minds, right living too often slips in importance. Of necessity, Godís love must be like that of a wise parent, focusing on long-term good, even at the price of tearing his own heart by making angry the tiny minds of people he loves. His aim is the highest good for everyone, not some short-term gain that soon fades or ends up robbing others.
The talk of people who are clever but have little experience differs greatly from the findings of people with the deepest experience of both God and suffering. The apostle Paul, one of the most qualified persons ever to raise this subject (reasons), discovered that no disaster could Ďseparate us from the love of Godí (Romans 8:35-39). For nearly 2,000 years this hard-won understanding has been tested by the pain of thousands of Christian victims of cruelty who have triumphed while suffering, rejoicing in the goodness of God.
Include all types of suffering, and it is true to say that literally millions of people have suffered without it lessening their devotion to Jesus. In fact, they insist it was Godís comfort, love and encouragement that gave them the power to endure.
It was once claimed that according to the science of flight bumble-bees cannot fly. But people who know bumblebees could not be fooled. They might not have a scientific answer, but they know bumblebees fly. Similarly, people who really know God, even those who have suffered as much as is humanly possible, know what they know: Godís love is as endless as his power. Gaining knowledge this way might not satisfy scientific curiosity, but it is truth proven by cold reality.
ĎWhen you know God,í breathed someone imprisoned in a Nazi death camp, Ďyou do not need to know why.í The hearts of thousands leap in agreement.
Although we can gain a little insight into Godís wisdom, if all our attempts were to completely fail, we have the security of knowing that our sorrow stabs a knife into the heart of the all-powerful Lord. That is the surest proof that hidden within the gigantic intelligence of Almighty God is a brilliantly clever, love-filled reason for allowing it.
What else can you suggest? If God made slaves of everyone, stopping all wrongdoing by forcing us to give up our favorite bad habits, we would be the first to get angry with him.
A God of love wants the whole world to act in love, but could you force someone to love you? Where would the goodness be in any action if it were impossible not to be good? All of life would become meaningless.
It would be the height of insincerity to dare criticize God for not always interfering when something terrible happens to us. Time after time we have each proved by our actions that we do not want his love and wisdom restricting us.
We say there is no hell and then set new records in suicide rates. We call Christian morality old-fashioned and suddenly it is old-fashioned not to know the latest AIDS statistics. We fill our hospitals with bodies damaged by drugs, alcohol, smoking and wrong sex. Try adding up even the dollar cost of divorce, cheating, laziness, dangerous driving, stealing, vandalism, prisons, and police. One wonders how our economy has survived this long. Enormous problems are inevitable whenever Godís laws are regarded as harsh restrictions rather than loving expressions of divine wisdom.
We reject Godís laws, hurt each other, and then have the cheek to blame God for the disaster that results. All suffering can be tracked back to human wrong-doing Ė not necessarily the action of anyone presently alive, but to someoneís deliberate rejection of God and his ways. (There is even a human link to natural disasters.) And why did not God strike that person dead before others could be hurt? Because, to be totally fair, he would have to do the same to you and me.
No clever argument, however, and no supposed spiritual experience can hide one unavoidable fact: a holy God would want to wipe out every cause of pain. But if he destroyed everyone who has ever caused pain by selfishness, cheating, lying, saying hurtful things, who would be left?
Only the insane would dare demand God give them everything they deserve. Although we are too trapped in our own wrongdoing to have a hope of seeing ourselves as we really are, if we were a little less blinded by pride, we would realize we all stand guilty before a holy God. We have each added to humanityís pain.
Many of us would go to any lengths Ė even to accusing our Judge of injustice Ė in an unconscious attempt to push the spotlight away from our dirty conscience. If only we could muddy Godís name, narrowing the gap between his perfection and our shabby behavior, we would feel better.
ĎSuffering is Godís fault!í we say, forgetting times our anger, greed and lies hurt others. Of course, there is an amount of hurt we say is not so bad, and for some questionable reason the hurt we have caused happens to be the sort of thing we say is not too bad. It is like failing a test at school and then moving the pass mark to make our own score look good. A holy God could play no part in such dishonesty. To wipe out some people who cause suffering and spare you and me would make God guilty of serious unfairness. We have each added to humanityís pain. If there is a God of love, the people he loves and longs to place in a pain-free world are the very ones who cause humanityís suffering.
Clever people have decided this must be true. It is like a time-bomb set to blow up (explode) in Christiansí faces the moment something bad happens to them.
If we stop to carefully examine reality, however, we are forced to conclude that only one innocent ever suffered! Few of us can face this reality, until by spiritual miracle our deeply hidden but dirty conscience is cleaned. Only then dare we relax our desperate attempts to hide and excuse and push from our minds just how wicked we have been. It is devastating to have oneís supposed goodness exposed by Godís blinding purity. With every speck of pride within them screaming in protest, Christians feel driven to a crushing conclusion: the moral gap between them and a murderer is invisible, compared to the terrifying distance separating even their best efforts from the spotless purity of Godís holiness.
We must move on, but this question of innocence is central to the question of suffering. We are so far from being innocent that we owe our very life to wrongdoing. If, for example, we followed our family history far enough back in time, we would probably each find some great-great-great-grandparent born as a result of wrongdoing, such a man being cruel to a woman, or stealing someone elseís wife or using too close a relative or having an unwanted baby. The problem with have created for God is that if he had already done what he longs to do Ė remove all evil from this planet Ė we would not even have been born.
Then, having accused everyone doing wrong, believers suddenly make an exception, holding on to the seemingly proud claims of a man famous for being humble. We all come from human parents, yet Jesus claimed to be totally different, having lived forever before ever becoming a baby (John 8:56-59; 17:5). If true, and if he then lived a perfect life, he alone could be innocent in every possible sense. And we know this man suffered.
He appeared as the only perfect human. He preached rules that were impossible to keep, claimed they were Godís rules and actually lived them. Loving his enemies, just as he had preached, he surrendered to insults and torture, somehow taking within his bleeding body the frightening results of all humanityís wrongdoing.
The world has known just one perfect Person (proof). We killed him. Yet our only Innocent gladly suffered punishment he did not deserve so that he could free guilty people from suffering forever the punishment they deserve. In this enormous swap, the Innocent and the guilty traded places, making it spiritually legal for his suffering to end your suffering. As hard to believe as it seems, this has brought us to the edge of a new world where the longing deep within us will be met Ė lies, abuse, and hurtful actions will be swallowed by goodness; sadness will disappear in endless joy.
But, for a little while, earthly pain continues for a wonderful reason. A heaven of peace, trust, openness and love would quickly spoil if just one person in it acted even slightly like we presently do. To enter a perfect world without spoiling its perfection, would require a bigger change within us than ever seen on earth. Through what Jesus did, God can perform this miracle and make us fit for such a world, but he will not abuse us by forcing a change upon us that we do not want. We must be willing to let God take from us not just the bad habits we hate, but the bad habits we love. We must let God, in his endless wisdom and love, rule every part of our lives.
But the day must come when everything is put right. All evil must be removed. Proud people have been demanding it for thousands of years, though they have no idea what they are asking. Our choice before that terrifying moment will decide whether we will be around to enjoy an evil-free world.
The suffering of humanityís only innocent (Jesus) broke open the way to remove all suffering, and when he re-visits earth he will complete this work. But how, without being utterly unfair, could he destroy every trace of evil without destroying you and me? Only by us being willing let him take our darling sins from us, and trusting him to have taken upon himself all the punishment our wrongdoing deserves. Then we will be spared and no one can accuse God of being unfair. He has paid the penalty himself.
Humanity is at the very edge of destruction, hypnotized by its love affair with wrongdoing. Each moment that God controls his explosive desire to destroy evil, is a moment in which billions of us have yet another chance to come to our senses and let Jesus deliver us from our love of wrongdoing. But the end of this time of Godís patience is rushing toward us. Soon all suffering will end. All wrongdoing will be destroyed, along with everyone still caught in its deadly trap.
Anything God asks you to do is because it is in your very best interest. Godís plan for your life focuses on your endless happiness and fulfillment. This is not to be confused with short term ease and happiness that ends up turning sour. Like little children who think happiness means having no rules and an endless supply of candy, we still have a lot of growing up to do before we understand what is really in our best interest. Much of what we presently struggle for we will eventually discover is not what we really want after all. In contrast, the infinite knowledge and intelligence of God focuses on things we will be eternally thrilled about. That often puts our priorities at odds with Godís priorities, even though both he and us seek our happiness.
Some people who havenít thought it through imagine God is self-centric because he asks us to praise and worship him. What we hold highest in life sets the ceiling for personal growth, achievement and honor. And being preoccupied with oneself makes oneís personality shrivel. Thatís why our loving Lord wants you to be God-centered. The Lordís only wish is that we act as wisely and unselfishly as him. Like the Perfect Leader that he is, he asks nothing of us that he would not do himself. It is the very nature of love Ė and hence the nature of God Ė to focus on the loved one. Just as he wants you to be God-centered, his plans focus on you as if you were the center of the universe.
Your love means infinitely more to God than all the diamonds on every planet in the entire universe. And praise is a natural expression of love. Lovers find praises effortlessly flowing from their lips as they praise their belovedís looks, abilities, and so on.
If God wanted slaves he could in an instant create too many slaves to cram into the universe. The All-powerful, Self-Sufficient Lord of the Universe craves your praise only because he is in love with you.
To discover how to get to know God and undergo the spiritual transformation we need to enjoy an evil-free eternity with him, see You Can Find Love: What your Secret Dreams Tell You.
Where was God When You suffered Unspeakable Horrors?
Not to be sold. © Copyright, 1996, 2005, 2009, 2014 Grantley Morris. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings by Grantley Morris available free at the following internet site www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give.