On this day in 2001, I was at work when I first heard the news. Some idiot pilot had crashed into the World Trade Center. We soon learned that this was only the beginning of the tragedy.
How are we to believe in an all-powerful, loving God when he allows bad things to happen to innocent people? Does God not care, lacking love? Or is he helpless, unable to intervene, lacking power? No, it can’t be either of those.
I once read a book by a well-known minister, claiming to answer this number-one question. I didn’t like his answer: “I don’t know,” he said.
The problem can’t be the devil, although many Christians think that’s a good reason. The book of Job clearly illustrates Satan’s inability to operate beyond the scope of what God allows.
We’re not helped by making a distinction between God “causing” a tragedy versus “allowing” one. If a policeman were to knowingly “allow” someone to rob a convenience store and kill the owner, we’d hold him guilty of a crime. By allowing tragedies, we can’t hold God guilty of any crime, can we? So what’s the answer?
Some Christians think sin is why bad things must happen to good people. We know death is the consequence of unforgiven sin. But if the cross has brought God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace, sin can’t be the answer for those who have surrendered their lives to Christ.
Let’s accept the reality that we might want to deny: God does, in fact, allow bad things to happen to good people.
Then we might get to the reason why.
Jesus said the innocent man was born blind for the day when God would be glorified in the tragedy (John 9:3).
After Joseph was made an innocent victim of attempted murder, was sold into slavery, and was unjustly accused of sexual sin, he had the amazing insight that God had allowed these tragedies for a good purpose. “You meant it for evil,” he told his brothers, “but God meant it for good” (Genesis 5:20).
Right now, using foresight, we may have trouble understanding our tragedies. But when we walk the halls of Heaven, in hindsight, we’ll see how they were necessary to experience God’s immeasurable glory.