Last night I found myself thinking about how it can sometimes be difficult to answer those hard questions that non-believers always seem to ask us. Questions we may have pondered ourselves. I know I have both before and after I started to follow Jesus.
I found myself running through a dialogue with what I might say to such a person in my head and the Holy Spirit filled me with insight that I’ve never had before on these subjects. Today I was planning on sharing some more visions and prophetic words that I received a few months ago, However, I can’t seem to shake this line of thought and feel led to share these insights with you here. God’s plans are not our plans so I’m just going to submit to His lead. Always the right choice. Trust me.
So, in this conversation I imagined, the subject of faith came up and I shared that I am a Christian and that I believe in Jesus Christ. This person immediately claimed that God does not exist. I asked the person, “Why do you say that?” Their response was one that I think all believers have heard or asked themselves at some point. “If God exists and He is good then why did He allow “____” to happen to me?” or for those that have not suffered too many hardships the broader question is usually, “If God exists and He is good then how can He allow “____” to happen in the world?” or “How can God if He exists and is good allow evil to exist?”
In this case, the person had been physically abused as a child. So, we are going to use this example to address this question.
“Why did God allow me to be abused?”
This will require us to address several different areas in order to answer it completely.
We have to begin with this truth, God wants everyone to be saved. He wants everyone to come to Jesus Christ. He loves every human being on this planet and wants every single one of us to come to Him. From the least to the greatest. From the most despicable to the most saintly among us. That in itself is a hard pill to swallow for most people and we will address that later in this series.
“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” – 2 Peter 3:9
This verse is in regards to Jesus Christ’s return. However, it clearly states that God wants everyone to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. That is the reason for His delay. He isn’t late. He wants everyone to have a chance to repent.
Now, with this knowledge let us try in our finite human understanding to imagine why God would allow someone to be abused. Again, I am using abuse as an example when it can really be applied to any evil or misfortune.
God does not experience time as we experience it. Past, present, and future are all laid out before Him. As it says in Psalm 139:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:13-16
I want you to think about that for a moment. He saw you before you were born. Every day of your life has been recorded. So, let us try to imagine as an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present being how we could accomplish our goal of saving EVERYONE that would allow us to save them.
So, here we have this situation where a young child is being abused and we want to save the child’s soul and the abuser’s soul. We have given mankind free will and sadly, this is the choice the abuser has made. We cannot take away free will because if we did that then nobody could choose Jesus Christ. You cannot have real love without choice. Again, something we will address later in the series.
However, we could intervene and stop the abuse. Let’s pause here. I want to remind you that God can see all of history and time at once and will know the effect any given moment will have on all of Creation. If you are familiar with the Butterfly Effect you will understand what I am talking about.
“The butterfly effect is the concept that small causes can have large effects. Initially, it was used for weather prediction but later the term became a metaphor used in and out of science.” – Wikipedia
Let me use an illustration and you will begin to see how incredibly complex this becomes and how we are severely limited in making and understanding these connections.
Scenario: A young boy is walking home from school, tossing a baseball in the air as he goes along. He notices a decrepit house that he has seen dozens of times before and is certain that no one lives in it. He has the sudden urge to throw his baseball through one of the windows.
Choice A: The boy throws the baseball -> The window breaks -> An angry, elderly man emerges from the house -> Boy runs home -> Elderly man reports the boy to the police -> While boy is home he receives a call from a friend -> Friend asks boy to bring his baseball to a nearby park for a game as they have lost the one they were using -> Boy cannot help them as his baseball is gone and hangs up -> Police arrive and boy’s parents pay for the damages -> Boy is punished by cleaning up the old man’s property -> The boy befriends the old man
I could go on and on forever about how this one choice altered this boy’s life. And yes, I realize this is extremely cheesy and has been done in film. But, it serves to illustrate my point. Now, what if the boy changed his mind and decided not to throw the baseball?
Choice B: The boy does not throw the baseball -> He goes home as usual -> One of his friends calls him up -> Friends asks him to bring his baseball to the park for a game as they have lost the one they were using -> Boy leaves for the park -> Boy joins in the game -> He ends up playing with a kid he has never met -> They become friends
Again. Pure Cheese. However, we can see how one choice drastically altered this boy’s day. His entire world inside and out would be different after that. We didn’t even address how these events would change the boy’s inner world. His thoughts. His beliefs. His emotions. Our choices, actions, friendships, and life events are constantly changing who we are, how we develop, and the path our life takes us.
Neither did we address the myriad of details in each of these tiny moments that could have changed other things in this boy’s life. This is just one tiny, seemingly meaningless event.
We also did not address how this would affect everyone else involved in this boy’s choice! Imagine being able to see every single one of those moments for every single person in the entirety of human history at the same time and how they intertwine. Do you have a headache, yet? It can’t be done by us. Thank God that we aren’t Him!
A lot of people argue that such a small event couldn’t possibly affect mankind that much. They might say something like, “Michael, come on, it’s not like this kid was going to grow up and be the president or something.” Let me first say that there is no way for a person to know that because of how incredibly complex this branching of events becomes after just one moment. Could we make an estimate based on the person’s intelligence, class, background, ethnicity, etc. on the likelihood of them becoming president? Sure. But, the accuracy of such a guess could not be reliably measured, especially from a young age. Such a prediction might get more accurate as a person gets older, but, really it’s all speculation in the end. Look at our current President. He was a businessman and a reality TV star. Reagan was a comedian.
Anyway, it doesn’t really matter because our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. He cares about our hearts. The changes in the heart of that boy and those around him and whether or not that event would lead him and those around him closer to hearing the Gospel and encountering Jesus Christ is far more important than him becoming president.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8
So, does God cause people to abuse other people? No. Does He allow it and use it for a greater purpose sometimes? Yes. Why? Because He loves us, all of us, and there is more waiting for us beyond this life. One of the biggest issues blocking a person from understanding this truth is that they believe living this life on Earth is as good as it gets so anything bad happening to us is unacceptable. My friends, it is not true. There is more joy, love, and life to be lived after this than we can possibly imagine and Jesus Christ is the bridge to that life. And you can begin to experience that life, right here, right now if you believe in Him. Come to Him.