How can you believe in a God who...

Our Spectacular Sins Book Club crossed into a no-fly zone with this week’s question:

So here is the one scenario I have for you today:

You are in a coffee shop reading your Bible. A stranger sits beside you and asks, "How can you believe in a God who allows terrorists to fly into towers or children to starve and die?"

Based on all we've learned so far, what do you say?

Um, can there be a harder scenario to answer? This issue is a stumbling block among unbelievers and believers alike. But I agree that we need to wrestle with it—we don’t want to be wimpy Christians. (And isn’t this issue a kissing cousin to: why does God allow Satan to live?)

From what I’ve read in Spectacular Sins so far, would John Piper be pleased if I answered the question with this?

God allows these things to happen for the greater glory of Jesus.

But, honestly, I’m uncomfortable with that answer. (And would John Piper be also?) It sounds uncaring towards starving children and innocent victims. And we know that God is not uncaring.

So my only answer is usually a fall-back to Isaiah 55:8-9, that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts.

Am I wimping out?
I admit that I do NOT understand and I can NOT explain. I just rest my faith in the One who DOES understand, and have to leave it there.

I have to believe there is a God who knows; otherwise, it makes even less sense.

Others' thoughts on this question

4 comments:

Lisa said...

Xandra@Heart Of Service answered this question very well. Here are some excerpts from her reply:

When we hear about the atrocities committed on a daily basis, we should praise God that He restrains men as often as He does. It’s when we see the outpouring of our sinful nature in the form of abuse and attacks, that we can fully see how God does far more restraining than He does permitting. He bears patiently with us, but sometimes uses horrible things to display His glory more fully, and to demonstrate once again how sinful man really is.

So how do I believe in a God that allows such things to happen to “innocent” people? None of us are innocent. Not one. ...We deserve to die, and yet we live by the gracious outpouring of love and mercy at the cross.

I guess the better question would be, "How do you believe in a God who made a way for you to live, even though the thoughts and intents of your heart are evil continually?"

Lisa said...

If God does everything for his own glory, does that make him a megalomaniac?

This article, The Divine Egotist -- Is God Arrogant, Selfish, or Megalomaniacal? helps me understand this issue a bit better.

Brenda said...

No answers from me, really- just further questions. :-) I always feel burdened by Matthew 6 when God tells us not to worry about tomorrow- what we will eat and such- it seems to imply he'll make sure we are fed and clothed, yet-- aren't there believers in the world today who aren't? What gives? When I re-read it just now, I realized it says "life is more important than food" and that made me think of Jesus telling his hungry disciples that he had food they didn't know about- and that was to do his father's will. Wow... our sustenance is in doing God's will? I don't know-- maybe this partially explains why God allows suffering & evil... because it's not really about any of that and it's all temporary anyway. Some can see past it and some can't- and it's all for his glory, whether we get it or not. Easy for me to say when I am safe and fed (overfed) and clothed.

Lisa said...

Maybe this somewhat addresses your point. I wrote it down last week from a Piper sermon about Philippians (loosely paraphrased):

"We only have one basic need--to stay a believer until we get to heaven. And God will always give us that.

We will have exactly the right amount of food, exactly the right amount of health, exactly the right amount of protection in your driving that you need in order to be a Christian until it’s time to die. Whether the dying is by car accident or by starvation or by persecution.

Paul didn’t mean that God will supply all his needs by getting him out of jail or providing all the food he needed to make him comfortable. Neither did Jesus mean that in Matt 6:33. He did not mean that you cannot starve to death because he said later that some of you they will hate, some of you they will kill.
...
Do you think Matt 6:33 didn’t come true for them? It did. Jesus doesn’t lie. Seek the kingdom of God first and all these things will be added to you. The amount you need to stand firm for Jesus until you come home. That’s all you need; that’s what you get."

? What do you think?

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