This Week’s Bible Question:
If God is all Powerful and Loving, where is he when there is a Natural Disaster or other Horrible Tragedy?
Michael Pearl: Hi, I’m Mike Pearl and I’m here to answer your Bible questions today. We have Jared behind the camera. So Jared, what’s the first question that people have written in?
Jared: If God is all‑powerful and loving, where is He when there’s a natural disaster or other horrible tragedy?
Michael: Where was God when an idiot was killing a bunch of people? I can tell you where He was. He was standing in the shadows, weeping. Same place He was in 33 A.D. when the Book of Matthew, Chapter 23, and in Luke, He speaks of, “A coming tragedy that would take place.” He spoke of Jerusalem, that it would be leveled, that the children would all be killed, that there wouldn’t be one stone left standing on another. And He told them, He said, “How often I would have gathered you together as a hen does her chickens, but you would not.”
He knew that 37 years later, that most of the people in Jerusalem would be killed by the Romans, and He would love to have stopped it, but He said, “I would have gathered you together. I would have stopped this, but you would not.”
It says in the Book of James, “You kill, you war, you lust, you desire to have, and you have not.” Way back there in the Old Testament, we found the story of the flood. Again, God wept and He said, “It repents Me, that I’ve made man upon the earth, for every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually.” God hates tragedy ‑‑ these things ‑ worse than we do, this killing, this violence. He would love to stop it, but we won’t come to him.
Where was God when all this was taking place? The same place He is, when a doctor goes in to a back room and kills a little baby in a woman’s womb. The same place where God is when wars are taking place, when missiles are coming in, when tragedies are happening on the highway, when children are being abused. When sexual molestation is taking place, when truckers are stopping and taking a little 14‑, 15‑year‑old girl for money. God is there and He’s weeping.
You said, “And why doesn’t God stop it?” Well, if I were a superhero, I understand the question, if I were a superhero, I would try to stop all kinds of things. I would stop people from jumping off buildings. I’d stop cars from wrecking, trains from running off the track. I would save everybody that I could.
So the assumption of the question is that God is all powerful, and if He’s all powerful, then certainly He has the power to stop these things. The assumption of the question is that if you loved, if you really cared, then you would stop these events. And so, since God doesn’t stop tragedy from taking place, then either He’s not all powerful or if He is powerful, He doesn’t care.
If He doesn’t care, then the response is, “Then I don’t care for Him,” and so, many people reject God on the basis of God is either weak and ineffectual, or He’s non‑caring ‑ otherwise, we wouldn’t live in the kind of world we do.
You see, that’s based on the assumption that we’re all pinned on some strings, that like Pinocchio, Geppetto had Pinocchio on some strings, a little wooden boy. He danced him, and Pinocchio danced, and when Geppetto got tired of Pinocchio dancing, he laid him on a shelf. He just lay there, staring blankly. But Geppetto had a deep desire to have a boy. He had no family. He longed for Pinocchio to come alive. Well, a fairy comes along and gives Pinocchio a heart, gives him life, but he still has a wooden body.
But Pinocchio can now ‑ he’s self‑motivated. He’s self‑directing. He has his own free will. Then, with that free will, the little boy lied. He lied to his daddy. He took some money that he was given and he bought candy and he lied about it. When he did, his nose grew long. Of course, it grieved Geppetto, but then the little boy went out with some more boys, and he fell into temptation, he fell into sin, using his own free will. And when he did, he ended up as a jackass, with a long tail, and braying like a donkey.
He ended up in captivity in the bottom of the ocean, in a whale’s belly. Now, that’s the result of his own free choice. Now, Geppetto would have loved to have a boy that was obedient, that was cheerful, that was safe, but it was Pinocchio’s own free will actions that led him to that terrible end.
Now, God made us with a free will. He made us with the ability to choose, to be self‑determinant, to determine our own direction in life. We can go up or we can down. We can come in or out. We can paint something black or white. We can lie or we can tell the truth. We can love or hate. We can kill or we can save lives. All that’s within the power of us human beings.
And God’s a gentleman, He doesn’t break the door down. He doesn’t come in and grab the strings and say, “I told you, you could choose, but you’re choosing wrongly, so I’m grabbing the strings. I’m going to stop you from making your choices.”
When He created us, He created us in His image, and being in His image, we are like Him with the power to choose. He’s even called us, “Gods,” in that we have that autonomy, that eternal consequences in everything that we do. And so, with those consequences, we face sometimes terrible ends.
Now, there were people who we would call “innocent” there that were killed. They were people who didn’t deserve to die then and there. But the Bible says, “Time and chance happens to them all.” In other words, God is not directing all the affairs. The Bible said that “Satan” in Second Corinthians 4:4, “is the God of this world.” And he’s running this world.
God, the Father, would love to take the reins and direct the world, but we ignore Him in our politics, we ignore Him in our faith, we ignore Him in our lives. We ignore Him every time we turn on the television or get on the computer. We ignore Him when we drive down the road. We ignore Him until something tragic happens, and then we stop ignoring Him and start blaming Him.
It’s time for us to take the blame and realize that we’re the ones that have failed. We’re the ones that have ignored God, and kept Him from transforming us, so that our lives are built on love and grace and peace, not on hate and anger and violence. So that’s where God was, weeping.
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