Tuesday, April 17, 2007


When tragedies such as the massacre at Virginia Tech happen, people want to know how a good God could allow such things.

Some respond with a defense of their particular theological view:

Even in the wake of such horrific terror and carnage, God remains sovereign. God remains holy, righteous, and just. God remains merciful and kind. God remains good.

The good that can come from this tragedy is this. Men and woman around the world may be brought to their knees in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And this:

We serve an awesome God. A God who is in absolute sovereign control…

In God's sovereign economy, there are is no place for "what if's". Even in the midst of chaos, He is in ultimate control.

And believe it or not, this:

There is a very straightforward answer for the question, "Where is God when evil things happen?" it is the answer given by Scripture, "[He] rides upon the highest heavens, which are from ancient times" (Psalm 68:33). Where is God? God is in heaven, from whence he judges the heavens and the earth and will exercise his wrath upon men who will [not] turn to His only way of salvation, Jesus. It is that salvation, that answers the inevitable question as to whether God is loving or not. Is God loving or not[,] sinner? [Are] you worthy of judgment? Absolutely, just because these souls at Virginia Tech have experienced massive tribulations does not mean that they are being judged any more than the masses dying from any variety of evil things, or the most natural, death. The reason that these become so tragic, is that we are all likewise trying to avoid death.

And then there is the theological equivalent of a punt:

Many will ask, "Where was God in that?" Well, the answer is confusing, because we are incapable of fully understanding God and His ways (Rom 11:33-36).

We can say this for sure, He is either sovereign, or He is not God (Job 2:1-10). We can also attest to this fact--the tragedies of our world affirm the claims of scripture, not the opposite--namely, that our world is fallen (Rom 8:18-24). Lastly, we must ask the question, well, if He is not absent, and if our world is fallen, does He provide any hope? That hope is found in Jesus, His Son (Jn 3:16-18). The outward affects of the Fall are unfortunate outward expressions of our own corrupt nature.

For many who do not question if God really exists, a more disturbing question arises amidst these events-- does God care? The answer is yes! Read verses 17-18 of John chapter 3 very closely. If He did not care, then He would not provide a means of rescue and restoration in a glorious relationship with Himself. The world is fallen, but we can be redeemed. And only those who are redeemed can find comfort amidst tragedy (1 Thes 4:13-18).

I'd like to think that Christianity has better answers to offer than these.

So here's an attempt to sketch out a more satisfying, yet admittedly incomplete, response to this tragedy.

  • God created a good world in which his creatures were given the freedom to submit to his authority or to rebel against it.

  • Because God made humans in his own image and granted them a degree of freedom, they have the ability to make real choices with real consequences that affect others as well as themselves, for good or for ill.

  • Yet in the midst of this creaturely freedom, God remains in control.

  • He accomplishes his purpose in human history without fail.

  • He accomplishes his purpose in the lives of those who trust in him and depend upon his grace.

  • He showers his grace upon even those who are rebellious and temporarily protects them from the ultimate consequences of their choices.

  • He even uses the very acts of disobedience and rebellion to accomplish his purposes.

  • God does not remain distant and detached from human suffering, saying, "I told you so."

  • Rather, he participates in our suffering, offering comfort and healing.

  • Earthly life is about more than just "getting signed up for heaven."

  • God opposes evil in every form in which it appears and calls his people to do the same.

  • Our choices really matter. They affect us and the people around us.

(If you are wondering where the Scripture references are for each of these points, click here.)

So what do you think? Tell me what I left out. Tell me where I'm wrong.

Pastor Rod

"Helping you become the person God created you to be"


Liz Clarke said...

This is exactly the kind of information that needs to be enforced and engraved into our mind, and for some of us on a daily basis. God is all good and NOT EVIL. He allows us the ability to chose, He wants us to chose the ways of Jesus Christ and in order to give us that choice, he must also give us the choice of evil. We all want choices, when those choices are limited, we tend to rebel. When there is more than one choice, we feel a greater sense of freedom and self-rightousness. I love your statement of "The outward affects of the Fall are unfortunate outward expressions of our own corrupt nature". VERY TRUE!!!! COMPLETELY TRUE!!!

This tragedy is clearly an indication and a reminder to us to seek Him and repent. I have certainly taken more time to remind myself of how great He is.

M. Pease said...

Your observations on the nature of life are refreshing and, as Liz says, exactly the kind of knowledge we need to wash over us to renew our minds. I can only pray that there is someone of like persuasion on hand to counsel those who are injured and bereaved.


Senovia said...

My heart goes out to the families that lost love ones in the tragedy in Virginia. I know we serve an awesome God. Even though people are going through this tragedy, we still should have faith in God. God will help you through your trails and tribulations. Maybe this portion of the poem “Footstep in the Sand” will help them in their tragedy.
Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life there is
only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when I needed you most
you would leave me."
The Lord replied "My precious, precious child,
I love you and would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints in the sand,
it was then that I carried you."
I do believe that God can intervene in any situation. Maybe during this tragedy someone decided to seek out God and change their life around.

Pastor Rod said...

Thanks for your comments. Keep praying.


jeff franczak said...

On a short daily radio segment today I heard Michael Josephson talk about “We Need a Moratorium on Blaming”.

You can read the transcript here.

Or, listen here using Real Audio. (1m 35s)

jeff franczak said...

Rod, I would like to add to your sketch the very powerful, but unseen, beings of good and evil—angels and demons.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12, NIV

“‘Don't be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha [the unseen hosts of Heaven].”
2 Kings 6:16-17, NIV

Happycamper said...

This is just a word to the families who have loss love ones in the tragedy in Virginia.

Life and death are beyond our control, but God is Faithful. God promised to never leave us or forsake us. People have asked why would a good God allow this to happen.

Ephesians 6:12 says,
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

What we have to understand is that Satan used this young man to destroy a lot of lives.

John 10:10 says,
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Even through this tragedy God is moving and drawing people to him that have never thought about him. God has given mankind a choice and sometimes our choices affect others.

John 3:16 says,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

We don’t understand everything but, one thing we know is that God is a God of Love and God is Faithful.

God Bless!!!

Jeremy Spargur said...

In my opinion, if the shooter at Virginia Tech. would have known God and his saving grace, maybe this would not have happened. Of course this is logical, but we do not know what was going through the shooters mind. Only God does.
You talked about the good that could come from this. Just like September 11, 2001, almost more people then ever came to Jesus.
In my walk with the Lord, I do ask, how could something like this happen? How could there be so much distruction and lives taken, but God does have a purpose. As we do not know that purpose, if we continue to seek him we may one day know.