On my last day off, my wife and I were enjoying some coffee, tea, and bagels at our “usual” place– along with some time conversing with one another. During the course of our conversation my wife brought up a question that was discussed during her women’s Bible study at the church. That question being the very common, “If God is so loving, then…” which is typically followed by asking why He would allow something bad to happen that would cost people their lives. (Examples: tsunamis, earthquakes, mudslides, 9/11, etc.)
Over the years, a form of this question has been asked many different times; and as a follower of Jesus Christ, my answer to it typically begins by addressing the wrong thinking– that all of the bad things mentioned in a question such as this, are caused by God. Biblical truth tells us that God created this world perfect (Gen.1:31), but it was mankind who chose to sin (Gen. 3:6), which in turn brought different forms of evil and destruction into God’s perfect creation – including death (Gen. 2:17). The other day however, when my wife brought this question to my attention, it made me re-think my approach.
When addressing this question, maybe the wrong thinking that we need to address first is the thinking that mankind doesn’t deserve to die. When someone asks this question, what really makes them the most upset about the horrific events that lead them to ask the question in the first place, are the countless deaths that the events caused. While those deaths are certainly tragic, what is forgotten by many when this question is asked is that on the same day of the tragic event, thousands of other people lost their lives as well. Some of them as a result of disease, some because of accidents, and some because of old age. And to someone, each and every one of the deaths were tragic, and something that they would have liked to see not happen.
However, Scripture makes it very clear that death is a reality in life (Heb. 9:27). Death is something that will happen to all of us before the Lord’s return, because it is something that according to Scripture, we all deserve because of our sin (Rom. 6:23). There are a lot of people who either don’t want to believe this truth, or they have tried to forget it. So, when the death of a person strikes close to home, they are confronted once again with it in their lives. And instead of trying to discover the real truth as to why there is death and destruction in this world, for fear of what they might find, they simply blame God and therefore conclude that He is not loving.
Which brings me to the next bit of wrong thinking that we need to address when the “If God is loving, then…” question is brought up, and that is the thinking that death means that God is not loving. Rather, the very opposite is true. Because of the fact that death is a reality in all of our lives, and that it is a reality as a result of our own sin, God decided to step up and make a way for us to have eternal life in His very presence after we die. Instead of allowing us to get what we deserve, God lovingly made a way for us to experience perfect and eternal life with Him after we die. (Jn. 3:16-17) I personally don’t know what is more loving than that.
The “If God is so loving, then…” question has been asked many times over the years, and will be asked many more times in the years to come. In the end, as Christ followers, who believe in the deep love of God for all of His creation regardless of how flawed and sin-cursed it has become, I hope we have an answer to give to someone who might raise this question to us. What’s your answer?