Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When God Allows Evil

A number of my Facebook friends asked how I responded to another friend who wanted to know my thoughts regarding a post about the Colorado movie theater shooting. The story we both commented on can be found here. It's an amazing story about one of the victims. My response to this post was to quote Psalm 139: 16:

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."                                                                                                                        
My friend wanted to know my interpretation of that scripture in regards to the shooting, as well as to share her views that if God manipulated events in this young woman's life to be saved from death in the shooting, then He must have also manipulated the lives of the others to die a horrible death in that movie theater. 

This is my response, followed by a few additional thoughts:
I believe the passage in Psalm 139:13-16 tells us that God knows the day we will be born and the day we will die. God has never hidden the fact that death will come to us all. In Genesis 3:19 He makes it clear we will all return to the ground. How each of us will die, however, is a mystery. Some will pass peacefully in their sleep, which is what I'm praying will happen to my mom. Others, however, will experience pain and misery. Why the difference? I have no idea. Why would God allow some in that movie theater to die an awful death while others were spared? I have no idea. 

But I don't think it's our place to ask why. Rather, I think the more appropriate question is "Why not?" 

God allowed His only Son to die the most horrific death imaginable. As awful as the things those people in the movie theater experienced last week, it is nothing (I don't say that lightly) compared to what Jesus experienced on the cross and beforehand. So if Jesus, who was fully man when he died so he felt pain the same as we do, was allowed to go through such an agonizing death, why do we think we are too special to die in a manner that is painful and awful? Why do we think God should spare us when He didn't even spare His Son? Certainly, we would never go so far as to say God didn't love Jesus. We would never say that God didn't care about His Son. And we would never say that God didn't have a specific plan in place for allowing Jesus' arrest, beatings, and ultimate death to happen. 

We, of course, know that Jesus had purpose in dying on the cross. We have the benefit of looking back and seeing what it was all about. It was for our sakes He suffered. The people in the theater obviously weren't dying to save someone from eternal damnation. Some, though, did sacrifice themselves for their loved one. Those sacrifices affected countless other lives, even lives not yet born. Only time will tell in what ways. 

I do believe the girl in the story had a brain defect that God allowed to form, with foresight that one day a bullet would travel through her brain on that defective path. Why? I guess we'll have have to wait and see, but already her story has touched thousands of people. 

God loves us so much that He sent His Son to reconcile us to Him so we can spend eternity with Him. But no where in His word does He say our lives will be rosy and perfect down here on earth until that day. No where does He say we won't die a painful, awful death. The disciples and Paul and lots of other faithful servants of God through the years died really awful deaths. Being a believer in God doesn't spare us pain. He never said it would. Why do we, the folks living in modern 2012, think we shouldn't have to experience pain and suffering, when nothing in God's word says anything to make us believe that?

BUT He does say in Revelation 21:4 that "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." This world is NOT our home. We WILL experience bad and terrible things on earth. But once we get HOME, that will be no more. 

That is the promise God gives us. That is the promise I cling to every single day. Especially on days, like last Friday, when I don't understand. When I can't see the "why" of it all. 

So, I don't know if any of this answers your question, but it's what is in my heart.


I honestly don't know why God allows evil to exist. I don't understand why He didn't stop that shooter before he even got to the movie theater. I don't understand why anything bad has to happen to anyone good. 

But my inability to understand it all doesn't affect my faith in the One True God who DOES understand it. Who DOES have a master plan. Who DOES see the big picture when we can't. Our lives are not our own. We were created by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). 

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families. 


Jenna Johnson said...

Beautifully written! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Shocklee said...

Thank you, Jenna!

Ashly Wilson said...

Love! I read the post on facebook last night. My heart felt the same as yours.....however I could never have written as beautifully as you! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Shocklee said...

Thank you, Ahsly!!

Anita said...

I agree. We may never understand why evil exists. Great post, Michelle!

Michelle Shocklee said...

Thank you, Anita!