Heartbreaking. Odd, really. When we stumble across news reports like the one I read on Sunday it shakes us up a bit and stirs many questions. Melanie Yates died from a stray bullet shot in her neighborhood in Zion, Chicago. It is said that Melanie was reading the Bible to her 7-month old daughter. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was in her home. She was being a mom. She was loving on her child and loving her creator in the process. How can a good God allow this to happen? Is God really good?
After reading the news report I read people’s comments and thoughts on the situation. Many were extending condolences and others said they were praying. There were comments, however that struck my heart. Here are just a couple that burdened me:
- let me guess.. that was in Gods plan.
- this is why I quit believing in God.
- so if God is all powerful and great, He really let this happen?
- even when you’re doing the right thing God can’t save or help you!
I get the frustration. I get the anger. I get the why and questioning the nature of God. How can a good God allow this to happen? I’m sure you’ve thought that before. I’m sure there was a time that you questioned if God is really good. I know I have. It’s normal to question. I believe God isn’t offended by our questioning. He loves honesty. It is, however ultimately what we do with our honesty and what [or who] we choose to believe.
In times of suffering, we tend to pin God as our adversary. We blame Him when in actuality, He is our cure. There is not always a clear-cut response or answer to the why behind the what but many of the wrongs occurring in the world are suffering as a result of freedom.
Why did a stray bullet kill Melanie while she was reading her Bible to her child? Why did God not heal your mom or dad from cancer? Why did you lose your sister in that car accident? Why did you or someone you love fall victim to rape? And there are plenty more whys out there. Think about it. Do you have a why that causes you to ponder the goodness of God?
Whenever something bad happens after someone did bad, we justify that as a consequence. However, when it’s someone good or someone who we’ve deemed as innocent, we cannot seem to find an answer as to why the injustice occurred. And in not having a why we blame God hoping that will settle the wrestling in our hearts.
Can I share something with you? This is coming from someone who experienced one of those whys I mentioned above. God is in the midst of all we go through and are going through. He hasn’t abandoned us. The suffering we have or are facing is a result of misused freedom. God could have created the human race as robots. Do as He says and as He does. But that would not be love, right? Love doesn’t force or coerce. In love, there’s a choice. The responsibility lies in our hands to choose right from wrong. Sadly, we don’t always choose right and the consequence of that is many suffering from hurt and pain from someone else’s poor decision-making.
Dr. Greg Boyd says it well in his book, Letters from A Skeptic. He states the risk of freedom is exactly proportional to its potential for good. In other words, if we can love a little, we can hurt a little. If we can love a lot we can likewise hurt a lot. If we have freedom, we have risk in the possibility of failure and hurt. Melanie died as a result of misused freedom. While sickness isn’t entirely related to misused freedom it can when we misuse science, food, and our bodies. But a lot of the suffering from sickness comes from the Fall of Man (Satan bringing evil to roam rampant in the world).
My husband, Jarrod, is a cancer survivor along with a couple others in his family. I asked him that if knowing cancer is a part of his story if he’d prefer to have not existed. His response was firm that it shattered my heart. He said,
Vash, I would never blame God for me having cancer. I would never blame God for not saving those that had cancer or any type of terminal illness. While it was and is hard, God was and continues to be our cure. Cure of hope, cure of faith and cure of eternal life. We didn’t choose sickness, but we can choose how we walk through it and from it.
I will leave you with this, death, sickness, and hardship outside of our control do not translate to an absent God. In a world that promotes belief in everything but God, remember,
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [sickness, hardship, the unexplainable], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you - Deuteronomy 31:6
If there’s anything we can cling to it’s the hope of Christ’s return where sickness, hardship, and the unexplainable will exist no more. To those who have lost a loved one, I am deeply sorry. For those battling right now, I am deeply sorry. But more than anything I pray that you can cling to the hope of Christ. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. He is in your struggle. God is your cure, not your adversary.