Bad things happen. People do unthinkable, horrible things. We see earthquakes, floods, droughts, and other natural disasters all of the time. Our families face sicknesses, hardships, depression, and death. If we allow ourselves to focus on the bad for long enough, it starts to feel like not much good happens in the world anymore. It seems as if God is nowhere to be found in the time we most need His presence.
In these trying times we often, and unfairly, blame God. We can question God. It is even understandable to get mad at God. But, we shouldn’t blame Him. Tragedies are not a product of God’s absence or apathy. In fact the opposite is true. Tragedy is a function of God’s amazing love for us. When God created us we are offered the choice to love. This choice, however, opens the door for darkness. But, without our free will, we could never feel true love. If we were simply programmed to love without choice, then it would not be the kind of unconditional and overflowing love we know in Christ. We would be robotic beings, going through motions, but never coming as close to God as He intended. To love (or not to love) is a choice we make freely. That’s just the way it works.
The world, if we allow it, can evoke anxiety, fear and desperation. These feelings offer us choices. We can choose to run to God or to run from Him. There really is no middle ground for those of us with faith. If we choose to run from God, we lead ourselves into despair and loneliness. However, if we lean on faith and run to God we see the opposite. Yes, the suffering and pain may still exist, but God promises peace to help us deal with the present; strength to lead us into the future; and, an eternal life shared with Him. Where we see tragedy and disaster, God sees opportunities for us to know a deeper kind of love. When we want to hide in fear from the world, God calls us to go into the world and spread the message of love and hope. In good times, or in bad, God tells us to trust in Him and share His love and grace.
In John 16:33 Jesus reminds his followers of the big picture. “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” Jesus already won the battle. He experienced the worst the world has to offer and is victorious. He suffered so we don’t have to. So why would we choose to go it alone, to live in fear, or even to doubt God’s very presence in times of trouble? As Christ followers, we believe there is something more. Keep that faith in the darkest hours because we know a new dawn is always just on the horizon. God will fulfill His promises, if not in this life, then in eternity.