I won’t even try to express the pain in my heart and in all Americans after Tuesday’s mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that extinguished 21 precious souls—two teachers and 19 grade-school kids a couple of days away from summer vacation.
I cannot count the number of comments this ministry has received expressing grief, anger, and confusion. Some of the comments, in one form or another, are tethered to this question: Why does God allow evil and suffering?
It’s a fair question that every believer has considered as the world provides plenty of fuel for that fire. You know…how can God allow heinous crimes? Or devastating hurricanes? Or war-time extermination camps? Or the mass murders of kids? How, indeed. But it’s true.
God does allow evil and suffering and pain. It is a reality for followers of Christ and that begs two huge and consequential questions: WHY does God allow pain and suffering? And WHAT does God want us to do with pain and suffering?
Let’s break those down.
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW PAIN AND SUFFERING?
God gave us free will to choose so we would either accept or reject him. He wanted us to love him voluntarily.
With the blessing of this free will comes a certain amount of burden, too. God does not want us to experience pain, but we will suffer the painful consequences produced by choices made by other people and our own bad choices.
It helps to remember that Jesus was no stranger to pain and suffering. He was broken, despised, defeated, betrayed, rejected…and crucified.
WHAT DOES GOD WANT US TO DO WITH OUR SUFFERING?
While spinning in the maelstrom of pain and suffering, we must choose EITHER to run away from God or sprint toward him. Here are three of the most important things God wants us to do with our pain and suffering: DEPEND on God; Be COMFORTED by God; and find HOPE in God. And all of it wrapped in learning to trust God more with every day.
DEPEND ON GOD
It often takes a painful experience to make us depend on him. Without pain and suffering, we would never know how big our God is and how much he can do in our life. He wants us to depend on him so we will glorify him.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
This verse is even more powerful to me because it comes from the apostle Paul, who suffered beatings and stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and rejection and hunger and thirst and homelessness.
BE COMFORTED BY GOD
When we have been comforted by God and through his Word, we develop Christ-like compassion that leads us to comfort others.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
FIND HOPE IN GOD
God offers us hope and two very important things we need when we’re hurting: peace to deal with our present and courage to deal with our future.
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” Joshua 10:25
Father God: Descend on Uvalde, Texas and smother its people with your love and comfort. Show them you are there for their unfathomable grief–today, tomorrow, and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.