I have been researching this problem together with a friend, so I was grateful to come upon your website and your response to the issue of how to trust in God's promises in the face of real, actual and experienced evil. I thought you did a wonderful job of addressing this, and you've given me much to ponder upon. I believe that all you have said applies well to adults, but not as well to children.
My friend has a two year old son. She struggles with believing God's promises in the face of the evil done to children. For if a child is raped and murdered, the aspect of suffering as a means to achieve spiritual growth would not seem to apply to that child. All of what you say seems accurate and truthful to me (though hard) with regard to adults who have chosen God, who have reached the age of reason and can grow spiritually from suffering, who can truly be said to choose evil or good, to choose to trust God or not. But a child? The only thing I saw in your writings that would seem to apply to a child was your opening example of the trauma of getting immunized, and how insignificant are our earthly sufferings in light of eternity. Is there more? Can you help us understand the sufferings of innocent children and reconcile it with God's promises too?
My response is in Green:
I am afraid that you have misinterpreted what I was trying to say. I have written two other articles on this subject that you might like to read and might help a little bit. You can find them here:
http://www.behindthebadge.net/articles/a46.html and here: http://www.behindthebadge.net/articles/a83.html
The second one is probably more to your point. Let me try to explain. See I think there are a couple of different although related points here. I do not believe that everything bad that happens to a Christian is so that they will grow spiritually. In other words I don't believe God decides to have a Christian woman raped so that she will learn to lean on Him and grow spiritually. Now I do also believe there are times when God either makes things happen or allows things to happen to help us grow, as in the case of Paul. But by real point is this. I believe God uses the bad things that happen to us to help us grow, that does not mean that He destines these things to happen to us. Does He know they will happen? Yes, could He stop them if He chose to? Yes. To our human minds that is a contradiction, but I think the problem is the way we think.
We are living in a time of grace. That means that God is not dealing with people immediately the way He often did in the Old Testament. He allows us to go unpunished for many things here and now. I think we all understand that on its basic level but we forget what it means in the big picture. It means that evil people who choose to do evil are also not punished immediately. That does not mean there are not consequences for our actions, but I mean judgment by God. So when a man decides to rape a woman who happens to be a Christian it is a choice that man made in his evil heart. The victim might even be a victim because they man hates Christians, but it is not because God is making the man rape her. As I said He could stop it, He could make the man choose a non-believer to rape, but that is not the way God deals with humanity.
I want to address that for a moment. Why doesn't God protect His children from the evils of the world? These are things I addressed in the two articles I gave you the URLs for but I will touch on it here too. For a moment let's imagine that God did protect His children from all evil. Our houses never burned down, we never came down with cancer, we were never the victims of crimes, etc... It would not take long for the world to notice. In fact I believe that it would not take long for a worldwide revival to take place.
That sounds good until you think about it. Would people be coming to Christ because they realize they are a sinner in need of a Savior, or because they don't want their house to burn down or come down with cancer or be the victim of a crime? Of course it would be the second reason. This is not acceptable in God's sight, nor would it work. You can't come to Christ for any other reason other than you realize you are a sinner under the sentence of death. So what would happen to these people? They would still be victims of all those things and in the end would totally reject God. Either they would believe they were not good enough to have God love them, or that for whatever reason He did not love them. The true message of Christ and God's love for mankind would suffer.
However, since God's children are not spared what happens? Well look at the shooting in the church in Wedgewood Baptist Church. I believe it is in Texas and happened about 5 years ago. If you remember a mad man come into the church during a youth service and killed several teens. Let me quote some of the things that the church says happened because of this horrible shooting:
Al Merdith, our pastor, has had frequent TV and radio interviews. He has repeatedly given an outstanding answer to the reason for our hope. He presented the gospel beautifully on Larry King Live when prompted by a question from Vice President Al Gore. (September 16) [The next morning, in response to a question from Katy Couric, Pastor Meredith presented the message of God's Love to the Today Show viewers.(September 17)]
On Sunday afternoon (September 19) 15,000 attended a memorial community-wide service at the TCU football stadium. Pastor Meredith gave a serious, challenging sermon. He called for a day of prayer and fasting [to coincide with the Jewish Yom Kippur holy day on Monday, September 20.] The service was broadcast live and in its entirety on a local news radio station (WBAP 820) that covers most of north Texas. The station replayed the pastor's first news conference because people were calling in and requesting to hear his comforting words again.
CNN also broadcast the complete memorial service live. Because one of the victim's families lives and works in Saudi Arabia, the CNN broadcast was aired there as well. Remember, Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation hostile to the Gospel!
My point is this, people got to see what Christians are like when they suffer. I will tell you they saw something totally different than they see when non-believers suffer. If you look at the school shootings you will see the same thing, you will see the witness that the parents and friends of the Christians who were killed were able to be.
The world is under no illusions that bad things don't happen to Christians but they can't deny that there is something different about them, or at least some of them.
Okay, now let me address the problem of innocent children. This is something very difficult for all of us to come to grips with, but it is part of living in a fallen evil world which is controlled by Satan. The problem is we as humans are always too willing to blame God for it, or wonder why He allows it. It is not His doing. I know this sounds like a paradox since He could stop it if He wanted to, but again it is our perception that is off base. Remember who placed the curse on creation, it was God. Why? As punishment for our sin (at that time Adam and Eve's sin). None of us is innocent. Granted until a child is of the age to understand right and wrong, we consider them innocent and I believe with all my heart that God's grace covers them if they die, but that is not the same thing as being without sin. The Bible clearly teaches that we are all born in sin.
I am trying to show that although it is horrible and these children have done nothing to deserve what happens to them, it is the same as when the Christian adult is the victim of evil. It is part of living in a fallen world where all non-believers hearts are dark and evil.
There are even some causes that can be seen. For a moment I want to go from talking about a victim of a crime to the victim of natural disasters, etc... Look at Africa. There are thousands of children who are dying, of starvation, of disease, you name it. Why? Why does a land as rich with resources as Africa have so many problems? Why are we blessed in America and they seem to be cursed? I believe with all my heart it is the consequences of generations past either following God or rejecting Him. Africa has always as a land rejected the true God and even though they have plenty of natural resources they are of almost no value to them. America, for all her faults, was founded on Christian principles and we have been blessed for it. Look at Mexico, what is different about Mexico and the US? One is above the Rio Grand and one is below, yet one is blessed while the other has struggled just to survive. Again why? It does not take long to see what the differences were in the past. I say in the past because the US is becoming a godless nation and I think we will continue to reap the consequences for that.
We as humans look at this and say that it is not fair, but God does not look at it like that. What is fair is for all of us to have the same problems, that is what we all deserve. It is God's grace and love that gives some people blessings. So it is not that He takes blessings away from anyone, it is that He only gives them to those who love Him.
Back to the children. We are willfully blind to what is happening in our country. There is innocent blood flowing in our streets and God demands justice for it. What do I mean? Every year we kill over a million children in the name of choice. Yet we (when I say we, I mean the nation) wonder why God allows innocent children to be victims of our evil society. The answer is right there before our eyes and million times over.
I also believe that the innocent victims are a warning to us or should I say a wake up call, but we most often ignore them. Or even worse we question God's love over them. Here is a quote from the Old Testament: (Deuteronomy 19:13 NIV) You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.
Remember also when God judged the nations and used Israel to extract that judgment He told them to kill every living thing, children as well as animals. This shows the difference in the way we look at sin and the way God looks at sin. As I said earlier we now live under grace and God is not extracting that kind of judgment, however, when we shed innocent blood (by law) He certainly will not consider anyone innocent.
This is a difficult subject and I am short of time, so I hope I have gotten my point across. God hates the violence that takes place in our nation. He hates the evil man does to his fellow man, but God allows it for several reason and one of them is as punishment for our own actions.
We will never make sense of everything in this world. However, we can trust God, He does love us and care about us and will even use the evil done to us to help us and to help others come to know Him. His focus is on eternity, because He wants us to spend it with Him.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)
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