Does God care?

A tragic death recently hit an Ottawa family for the third time in the last five years.  Does God care?

I believe he does.  But death – particularly the death of young people – often turns people against God.

I was talking with my wife and some friends yesterday about the sudden death of a 22-year-old man in hospital over the weekend.  His death followed the death of his mother last year and his father five years ago.  He left behind two teenaged brothers who are orphans.

From all accounts, this is a much-loved family with a wide group of friends.  From a human standpoint, it seems unfair that this fine family should suffer so much.

As we talked, my friends and I agreed that suffering is very hard to explain – perhaps impossible – to those who do not believe in God.  Even believers struggle with it.

But, ultimately, believers can look forward to a time when all will become clear.  They will be with the Lord in heaven when these mysteries will be explained.

In the meantime, we believers can hold on to truths which we find in scripture.

For example, Paul tells us in Romans 8: 28 that everything works to the good of those who believe in God.  That is hard to accept when we are suffering, but sometimes we can see in this life that good does come from our pain.

Suffering also develops our character if we trust God.  James tells us in James 1 that it leads to perseverance and strength.  We all know of people who are very effective in helping suffering people because they have suffered, too.

Suffering can drive us to God.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Paul gave thanks to the Lord in all circumstances – even after terrible beatings as he did in the Philippian jail (Acts 16).

But this does not mean much to someone who does not believe in God.  Often, non-believers blame God for suffering.  They say that if there is a god, he could prevent suffering.  They assume, then, that if there is a god, he is uncaring and maybe even vengeful.

That is not the way I see God.  Jesus is God.  And while he was on earth, he healed many who were sick and suffering.

I love the picture of Jesus in Luke 7: 11-17 where he encounters a funeral for the only son of a widow in the town of Nain.  His heart goes out to her – he is filled with compassion for her.  And he raises the dead man to life.

Again, Jesus weeps at the tomb of his friend Lazarus in John 11, moments before raising him to life.  He feels deeply the pain of his friends Mary and Martha whose brother is dead.

That is the heart of God.  He does not enjoy our pain.

That still leaves mystery: Why is that person healed and not me?

We may not be able to answer that right now.  But, as believers, we can hang onto a truth: God knows why – and he is love.

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