Paul Tripp has wisely stated that we are all “meaning makers”. We are constantly looking for meaning and answers. One of our favorite questions is, “why”.
These questions are never more prevalent than when tragedy strikes. And usually there are plenty of pundits that rise to the occasion to give us reasons why this happened. Within Christian circles the answers are…wait for it…diverse.
Consider what happened to Job or the Hebrews in Egypt. Think through that story and consider how many different “Christian” responses there would be to this tragedy.
You would have the Westboro Baptist type of folks that would without a shadow of a doubt—nor a shred of humility—“this obviously happened because God is judging Job for his sinfulness.” Then of course there would be the people that would be quick to absolve God from any sort of involvement but almost fall into dualism: “God did not wish that these tragedies happen, Satan has obviously gotten a foothold, but don’t worry God will beat him up in the end”. Then there are about a million different responses somewhere in between.
Apart from a long embrace, to me the best response is simply this:
Job, I don’t know why all of these things have happened to you. I know that God is in control. But that is not new information for you. I also know that God is good, even if that is hard to believe right now. I am hanging on to the promise of Romans 8:28 that, “all things work together for good”. You and I know, Job, that our greatest good is conformity to Christ. That does not necessarily take away the pain, but it at least mixes the pain with hope. Somehow through this you will be brought into a deeper enjoyment of Jesus. So in the midst of this hurt and pain just hang on. And I’ll be hanging on with you.
I am convinced that pat answers do not really help suffering people. In fact most people that are suffering KNOW that God is in control. That is what is bothering them. It’s not His sovereignty they question—it is His goodness. And that is what we somehow must hang onto.
Why do tragedies happen? I don’t really know. All I know is that we cannot hide behind saying, “the devil did it”. This undercuts our hope; because if God couldn’t stop this cancer then what makes me think He can resurrect the dead? Nor can we arrogantly assume that we know the specific “why”. All we can really do is cling to the promise that our suffering will pale in comparison to the glory that awaits us.
Suffering (as if I truly know anything about it) is painful. It sucks. Cancer, rape, adultery, murder, death, genocide, starvation,…the list could go on and on…are horrendous and they hurt. So, I have to wonder how amazing must Jesus be that when we finally “attain” Christ that we would look back on these horrible tragedies and say, “what suffering?”
I don’t know what your “tragedy is” or what the specific reasons why. But I do know the One that is so glorious that the real pain you feel pales in comparison to His very real glory, splendor, and joy-producing majesty.