by Joe Leavell
The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, Bagdad, and the countless other recent atrocities perpetrated by ISIS are tragic reminders to all of us how far reaching other people’s sin can affect our own lives. Evil costs us tremendously and as a result, many families across the globe are today struggling to make sense of it all. Many are wondering where God’s goodness may be found? People question why God would allow such attacks to occur in the first place and wonder how long He will allow evil to carry on.
In our last post, we looked at how evil was ultimately defeated by Christ through the cross and will one day be eradicated upon His return. Evil is ultimately defeated, because in reality, God is good, and He really does care enough not just to do something about it but to actually fix the ultimate problem at its core. However, at the same time, we still live in a world where evil is ever present. Christ has not yet returned, and we face the suffering of those who would do us harm. In this life, we not only face the consequences of our own sinful choices, we also have to bear the brunt of those who would seek to harm us on a regular basis. We see that kind of evil very clearly in a world where terrorists seek to do all of us harm.
Yet for almost all of us, the evil we face does not look like terrorism. Most of us have not had to live through the horror of a terror attack but that does not mean we have not lived through real evil experiences in our lives. While sometimes the effects are the natural consequences of our own failures to believe and obey the particulars of the Gospel, oftentimes we suffer because of the evils of others. So far, at BCA (Biblical Counseling of Arizona), we have, thankfully, never had to respond with crisis counseling following a brutal terrorist attack. Yet the same questions that often arise from a crisis situation of that magnitude also come to the surface when we experience the evil that manifests itself even in Arizona.
Questions ring out from our broken hearts. Where is God when my loved one commits suicide? How do I see God’s goodness in my failing marriage? Why would God allow someone to abuse me and harm me? Doesn’t He love me? Why won’t He stop the pain? Why did God not heal my loved one from cancer? Why does He allow my suffering to continue? How can I not live a life full of fear? Where can we find hope and comfort in the midst of my own tragedy? These are all important questions to consider.
One thing that I love about our God is that He does not shy away from those tough questions, or demand that followers of Christ be brainless robots who cannot address hard questions. Before responding from a biblical counseling perspective, however, we must ask in what spirit are the questions being asked? You see, there is a difference between demanding that God answer to us, as if we are His judge, and simply seeking to know Him and understand Him more. So if you are experiencing pain in your life’s circumstances, I would ask, do you simply want answers to all of your questions about God or do you sincerely desire to know and worship God for who He is, not for what we think He should be? Honestly, if your view of God is that He should always do everything exactly according to your ways, your will, and your understanding, then there is a good chance that your ‘god’ is yourself.
One of the many reasons that each our counselors got into the field of counseling was because of such questions. We have seen the hurt and the pain and desire to be on the front lines to share with people the truth that is difficult to hear in the midst of our pain. God really does care. Those words can sound hallow when experiencing a hole in your heart and when you wonder how you can make it through another day. Yet, it is true, and it is the path to hope and comfort. God does care and God is a good God. He really does weep over our pain and suffering. He does love the brokenhearted, and does not enjoy watching our struggles. Hebrews 4:15 says that we have a Great High Priest named Jesus who sympathizes with our struggles and our pain because He has experienced more suffering and pain than we can imagine, all without sin.
While there are too many particular issues of pain to address in one post, if you are struggling through pain, we want to be a blessing to you. We desire to share with you that God really is good in the midst of your struggles and pain, and He really is worth it. He does not always promise to shield us from those who do us harm, but He does promise to be with us in the midst of our pain. He promises to ultimately right every wrong. We desire to see you connected in biblical community with a solid local church that will love you, shepherd you, and challenge you to grow. We want to share with you the truth from God’s Word, not in trite ways or with empty platitudes that you can hang on your wall. We want to help, not in ways that make us look brilliant and make you depend on us, but in meaningful ways that show you the loving compassion of Christ. We do not promise to know the answer to all the particulars of every question you may have because God does not reveal all aspects of His will (Deuteronomy 29:29), but we promise to point you to the One who, even when we do not understand, we know we can completely trust.