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When God Doesn't Make Sense

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When God Doesn't Make Sense

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How can we trust God when many times we just don't understand what He's doing? Have you ever felt that way?

Most people claim to believe in a Supreme Being, with their ideas about God shaped by the Bible. It teaches that God is loving, all-powerful and able to be everywhere at the same time.

Yet at times those who believe in God find themselves in situations that don't seem to make sense. Why doesn't God intervene in a personal crisis? Why is a young person allowed to suffer an untimely death? Have we been left in the dark to work this out for ourselves?

Every human being desires a purpose in his or her life—a reason for existence. We all possess an emotional necessity to believe that we have value and that there is meaning in suffering.

These needs originate in an inherent deep-seated hunger for God. We try to fill that hunger with careers, wealth, sex, drugs, social crusades, the newest pop psychology theory and all kinds of other pursuits, but the hunger still exists. This hunger can't be satisfied until we recognize that we were created to have a relationship with our Creator.

Why doesn't God always answer prayer?

One of the remarkable gifts the Creator has given human beings is free will. We have self-consciousness, creativity, emotions and the ability to reason and make choices.

This freedom to make choices is one reason the world is in such a mess. Human history is a catalog of failed experiments involving governments, religions and philosophies that have promised happiness, peace and prosperity for everyone. The missing ingredient in all of these experiments is the way of life designed by the Creator of life.

It's not that God doesn't want to be involved—it's that most of the time we don't invite Him to be involved. Each of us labors under the belief that "I can do it my way" and make life work. Regrettably, we seldom stop to ask, "Is this really working?"

We can talk with God anytime, but a quirk of human nature is that if we don't get an immediate and positive answer, we conclude He didn't respond to our prayer.

When God doesn't seem to respond to our prayers, we need to ask ourselves whether we have separated ourselves from Him by our actions and choices. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God says: "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save . . . but your iniquities have separated you from your God . . ." (Isaiah 59:1-2).

Sometimes we need to evaluate our own humility before the Creator of the universe. He's not the proverbial genie in a bottle granting wishes to those who perform the right incantations. Far too many approach God with a flippant, disrespectful attitude and wonder why He doesn't respond.

Jesus said that if we have faith, then we can ask God to move mountains and He will cast them into the sea. It's safe to say that God doesn't want Christians going around throwing all the mountains into the sea. One of the most difficult aspects of having free will is having enough trust in God to say, "Your will be done." We must have confidence that God has our best interests at heart.

Sometimes God's answer isn't what we want

Sometimes we have to accept that God's answer is "no" or "wait." Any adult understands that "wait" is a wise response to a 5-year-old boy's request for a pocketknife even though "wait" seems arbitrary, even cruel, to the child because of his limited reasoning ability.

Anyone who works with children has tried to explain a simple concept only to be asked repeatedly, "Why?" No matter how many times you change your wording, talk slower or raise your voice, sometimes a child just can't understand the reality an adult perceives.

It's the same way between God and us. He sees a bigger picture of life. He understands our personalities, our weaknesses and our anxieties, and He certainly cares about our ultimate good. But with our limited minds we keep asking, "But why, Daddy?" At some point we have to trust that Daddy knows what He's doing.

Due to our limitations as human beings, there will be times when God seems beyond our reach. It is haunting to consider Jesus' exclamation, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). It's hard to imagine the Son of God experiencing that level of despair.

Yet in that statement we can find comfort. Christ, who now sits in heaven at the right hand of the Father, knows what it's like to feel estranged from the Majesty and Power of the universe. He experienced what it is to be human.

In that way Christ's intercession is more than a legal action of taking our sins on Himself. It involves a personal relationship with us. Because of Christ's intercession, we can ask God for what the apostle Paul calls the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). We may not always be able to understand what God is doing, but we can experience inner peace and confidence in what He is doing.

People confused by Jesus

Jesus had a special relationship with a man from Bethany named Lazarus. John 11 records how Jesus was teaching in another town when messengers arrived to inform Him that Lazarus was very ill. Jesus then did something that seems to make no sense—instead of rushing to the side of His sick friend, He stayed where He was for two days. In fact, He deliberately waited until Lazarus died before going to Bethany.

Imagine the thoughts that went through the minds of Christ's disciples. He performed miracles wherever He went, but now He deliberately delayed going to His seriously ill friend.

Jesus arrived in Bethany and was confronted by Martha, Lazarus' sister. She was perplexed by Jesus' delay. His actions toward His friend just didn't make any sense. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (verse 21).

Mary, Lazarus' other sister, was also perplexed by Jesus' delay and asked Him why He didn't come sooner. Jesus became so overwhelmed by the grief of those around Him that He wept.

Jesus then went to Lazarus' tomb and prayed for God to resurrect Lazarus from the dead as proof that Jesus was the Messiah. Lazarus came walking from the tomb, wrapped in his burial clothes, like some mummy in an old movie.

Lazarus' death had been allowed by God as part of a greater plan to reveal His Son. Of course, there was no way for friends and family to understand this during the crisis. God's picture was much bigger than their immediate difficulties. And therein lies the dilemma: Human beings must trust in God's bigger plan even though we can't always see it.

Life is like putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. We have to trust that eventually all the pieces will fit together to create the picture on the cover of the box.

God's help in times of despair

Our predicament originates in a simple concept. Human beings were made in the image of God. Sin is any action, thought or emotion that differs from how the Creator designed life. Once sin enters into our experience, our emotions and thoughts become twisted. The result is suffering, broken relationships, meaningless lives and eventual death.

The gospel is the message of how God sent His Son to take our sins on Himself and receive the penalty we deserve. But that isn't all there is to the gospel. Human beings are an incomplete creation. We have to be prepared for eternity. Eternity arrives when Christ returns a second time to resurrect the dead and establish His Father's Kingdom on earth.

Understanding why our lives got into such a mess and how God has a plan to get us out of it is the beginning of seeing that bigger picture. We have to accept that our emotions and thought processes are damaged. Then we can begin to seek God's help in being healed.

This includes living the way of life outlined in the Bible. Healing is more than going to a physician. You must also put into action the changes needed for getting well.

This healing includes accepting God's love and the incredible future He has in store for those who are willing to let Him be involved in their lives. Today we can begin, in a very limited way, to view our present sufferings in the tapestry of the Creator's plan for His creation, which includes Christ's second coming to fix the world in which we live.

Many times it is easier to heal human illness than to restore damaged human emotions. When faced with terrible loss, or a difficult time of life, first accept that it's okay to be human. Emotions like grief are a natural response to intense loss, not a lack of faith.

It's important to have a support group in times of crisis. You don't want to end up isolated. Most importantly, we need to be able to pour out our emotions to God. Write down what you are experiencing and read these intimate thoughts and feelings to God in prayer.

God isn't the cause of suffering, but He is the only solution. As beings with free will, we have the opportunity to explore every possible solution to the human condition. We continue to come up woefully short.

When we suffer, the outcome isn't usually as dramatic or immediate as it was for Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Remember, though, that during the dark days of Lazarus' illness and death they didn't know what the outcome would be.

All they had during those times of despair was a faith that God had not abandoned them and that Lazarus would someday be resurrected from the dead. Faith is more than belief in God. It is the trust that He is always acting for the ultimate, eternal good for every human being. It is the basis for hope in the future. GN


  • Malachi 3_16-18
    Hi Mark44, Yes, those two passages are powerful promises about answered prayer. But there are some more verses to consider, along with these. Jn 14:13-14: We must ask in Jesus' name. This means with His approval and authority. If we ask, for example, for a brand new car, He may not give it to us if we are breaking a commandment by coveting. If we ask for a new boss, it may be that we won't get one until we have learned not to hate our current one. Verse 15 says we must keep God's commandments if we love Him. 1 Jn 5:14: We must ask according to His will. How do we know what His will is? Well, there are basic guidelines in Scripture. For instance, is it in keeping with the commandments? Is our underlying motive good? This is where faith and using God's Spirit really come in. We might ask for anything we want, but we need to trust that God will grant us what is best for us. Often the answer is "Yes", sometmes it's "Wait", and other times it's "No; here's something better instead."
  • Mark44
    Doesn't Matthew 7:7 state "ask and you will receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it will open" or Mark 11:24 "therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received, and it will be yours." Do not thoe two powerful scriptures mean He will answer our prayers.
  • Lena VanAusdle
    Pemar, the situations you described are terrible and it was never what God intended. "Sometimes terrible tragedies and situations that cause us suffering come from a very real being who exists only to cause harm to people. "Jesus Christ spoke of one He called "a murderer from the beginning" and "a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). Jesus identifies the origin of evil and suffering. The suffering you and all people go through comes from a being who first lied, deceived, hated and murdered. He is the enemy of mankind, Satan the devil (1 Peter 5:8). "Lucifer (Satan) convinced himself he was as good as or better than his Maker. He rebelled against God and tried selfishly to put himself above the other angels (Revelation 1:20). Where does violence, anger and hatred come from? God said that Satan became "filled with violence" (Ezekiel 28:16-17)...Because he hates God, he does what he can to make God's children suffer." Check out "Why Am I Suffering?" at http://www.ucg.org/ebooklet/why-am-i-suffering/.
  • KARS
    Dear Pemar, We live in a world of time and chance. We can't read minds. How in the world are we suppose to know what each person is thinking? In families we can guess what our siblings or parents will do because we are around each other so much. But those outside of our family circle; who knows what kind of evil they grew up with. From childhood we learn how to behave, how to talk, what to eat, etc. You were not the cause of your brother's death. It was time and chance. Here is an example; say that your going along riding your bicycle down the street having a nice time and then; pop goes your tire. There was a nail in the road, a broken piece of glass or something. Your going to get mad at God for that because someone else didn't care and threw it in the street? If God did everything for us and thought for us; we would be like robots with no individuality,no creativity, and the inability to think. Programmed just like the animals, insects, birds, etc. They live by instinct. We have a mind given to us by God the Father to make and do marvelous things. It's how we choose to use it that matters. Will it be used for good deeds and thoughts or bad? It's our choice.
  • SD
    Dear Pemar, I doubt you will read this answer, but if you will allow, I'd like to make my own puny attempt. I am SO sorry about what happened with your brother. I'm also sorry that you took this article to mean it was your fault because that is not what he intended. We live in a fallen world because God gave the first people on earth the choice to just walk with Him all the time or have free will, they chose the later. Your brother didn't die because he or you were sinning, it was an accident. This article doesn't mention that sometimes the devil is responsible-he loves death and destruction. But, setting that aside, if God intervened all the time instead of allowing us to drive cars out on the road which leads to occasional accidents, we wouldn't have cars! I know that sounds trite, but He gives us the choice to take risks like walking on a riverbank, sometimes we fall in-it's not because of sin. This article is talking about things that happen like liver cancer from smoking, drunk driving and causing an accident (say, even yours-which would be the sin of the other driver). Those choices need to be thought through to see if we are personally responsible. Not ALL choices are!
  • Pemar

    What exactly is so remarkable about free will? As you have so aptly illustrated, it has led to nothing but trouble. How could God not know that free will would be a disaster? And of course, like all Christians, you simply cannot or will not answer the basic question-in my case-why would God allow my brother to die in a car accident while I was sitting next to him and survived? What good could come of that? It was my fault-as a 12 year old-because I seperated myself from God? Do you honestly think you are providing any insight or comfort to anyone? You are not and you cannot because your attempting to answer an unanswerable question about an unknowable God. Search the internet for Channon Chastain-read about the incredibly brutal rape/torture and murder of her and her boyfriend. As she was being sodomized with the leg of a table, as bleach was poured down her throat while she was still alive after being gang raped-are you telling me a benevolent and omnipresent God would not have intervened? Do you take yourself seriously?

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