How could God let that happen?

There’s a question many of us have asked or been asked; usually when something terrible has happened – a young child diagnosed with leukaemia; an airliner downed by its co-pilot. Rarely am I asked that when something good happens. It’s when the bad things happen, and specially the bad things which seem so “unfair”, that God gets the blame. Yet each one of us wants freewill, to make our own choices, to live life as we choose, and sometimes we make big mistakes, bad choices, and cause all sorts of problems.

It is often very hard for people to continue to believe in a God who seems to allow tragedy to afflict the world. Yet what is the first thing that people do in the face of disaster? Candles are lit, prayers are said, churches throw wide their doors and Books of Condolence are opened. And people come in their droves. In the face of disaster and tragedy, and when God seems very far away, and as if He has turned his back on us, people still want to be in church and say their prayers. The psalmist said “Out of the deep have I cried unto you o Lord; O Lord hear my cry” and it is still true today.

We can’t have it both ways, though, can we? We cannot be free to make any choice we wish – to invade Iraq, to develop ghastly viruses, to use and abuse the world as if it’s our own plaything, to treat poor and vulnerable people with contempt – as well as many rather better choices - and not also reap the consequences of our own actions and choices. We cannot make the choice to shut God and His values and His commandments firmly out of our lives and our society…and then blame Him when things go wrong. That really is unfair.

The good news is that though many of us have “finished with God” He will never have “finished with us”. When the chips are down, when things go belly up, God is still there, to listen to our prayers and to sustain us when the going gets really tough. Like any truly loving Father He will carry us when we are weary, and will listen as we moan and complain and blame…and He will still love us even when we don’t much love Him.

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