I think we implicitly assume that when God intervenes it is always for our good and that bad things happen, in part, because God is absent. When tragedy and evil strike people often ask why God did not intervene. We ask the same question when we are going through major difficulties. We want God to get us out of it. We wonder if God is powerless to stop it or if he is indifferent to evil. Those seem to be the two possible conclusions. Scripture fortunately provides us with a third option that is true and encouraging.
Instead God allows evil to occur but then overcomes it with His grace. In the book of Job we see that God allows Satan to inflict Job with pain and suffering, both in his body and the loss of his children. God allowed it because He is in control and not powerless. When Job speaks of his sufferings, though, he never mentions the devil. He attributes it to God, and he is right. He doesn’t blame God but he does say,”the Lord gave, and The Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of The Lord.” Job learns that he has to be able to trust God when there is no answer to the question,”Why is this happening to me?” God then restores Job and blesses him with more than he ever had before his trials.
The desire to know why you’re going through the pain and suffering makes it difficult because you don’t have the full picture. It hurts and you don’t know if it will ever end. You’re realizing that you have no control over what happens and the thought that you don’t know what else may happen fills you with fear. What did I do wrong? Is this punishment for some sin I committed? God must be angry with me. So how can I atone for it?
The Bible teaches us that the only way to endure is through faith. We ask “Why?” and God’s answer is,”You have to trust me.” Do not be so confused as to think that this is easy. When you’re suffering you’re quite sure that an answer to the question will help but it takes faith to believe that it won’t. It’s like explaining to a child why a relative died. Children, like us, can ask questions whose answers are beyond their ability to understand. There’s no way we can fully answer their question so we have to give them enough of an answer to sustain them until they can understand. Likewise with us, we have to wait until we learn more. Sometimes that may not happen before we die. We have to carry on the meantime, though, and so we must believe that we can rely on God in our ignorance, confusion, and pain.
The great news is that there is hope for those who put their trust in The Lord. He is almighty. He doesn’t just react to events but drives them. He is not a 911 dispatcher who sits around waiting for a call. He is proactive. As Psalm 23 says, He is the shepherd who leads us through the valley of the shadow of death as well as the green pastures. He doesn’t just deliver us from danger but leads us into it, always with us and protecting us.