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Where Is God When Tragedy Happens?

We would like to share with you the words of a very wise and admired mentor. This is a letter written in response to questions asked such as, "How can God allow bad things to happen?" and "Where is God when tragedies occur?" These questions were provoked by the Columbine High School shootings on 20 April 1999.

Where Is God When Tragedy Happens?

 

Gordon R. Lewis

 

Written By

Gordon R. Lewis PhD

Theologian, Professor, Author & Speaker.

Published with Permission

 Copyright © 1999

 

Copyright Regulations: Dr. Lewis has so graciously given permission for people to make copies of this article to give to family and friends. However, please send a written request for permission to publish in emails, websites, newsletters, magazines, etc. or to distribute to large groups. Inquiries of requests for permission may be directed to editor@whereisgod.net 

od is our heavenly father, not an indulgent grandfather. God is love, but God is also just, righteous and holy. God is the source of all that is good, not the blameworthy cause of moral evils. God did not do this to the victims of this horrible crime. God is the final cause of all that comes to pass, but not the efficient, blameworthy cause of evil.

There would be no world, no fall, no sin if God had not created the world.  But when created it was all very good. God can no more be blamed for murders than Henry Ford can be blamed for an accident when a person runs a red light with a Ford car.  There would not be Ford cars if it were not for Henry Ford. But the efficient cause of, or blame for that accident must fall on the negligent driver.

A friend of a girl who was shot said she heard the murderer say, "Do you believe in God?"  She said, "I do."  For that he shot her. From her testimony of faith, this martyr may cause many more Christians to be more faithful to Christ. From her testimony, many others, possibly her classmates, will accept him as Savior and Lord.

Jesus said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. . . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:18-21). Satanism is an outright rebellion against God, his Word, his Son, families, churches, and governments.  It often arises when children want to rebel more and more against their Christian parents. They are encouraged in the movies, television and the relativism in education. Occultism is accepted and promoted. 

Christianity is forbidden in the schools.  For most of the 20th century we have taught relativism, that there is no absolute right or wrong. The teaching of the world is that sometimes it is OK to murder. We should not be so shocked. We are reaping what we have sowed.

May God help us to have a stronger influence in the education of our children. Public schools must uphold the inestimable value of one life and the supreme importance of love. Parents need to display those values as they get to know their children's teachers. Parents need to find out what our children are reading in the library (which is full of occult books).

We might help supply school and other libraries with Christian books. Parents must value and love their children, and daily let them know of their loving concern for their welfare. We need to have a greater concern for the children who are not popular, not sports heroes, not active in the popular clubs. 

Many youth pastors seem to go after the "successful", "popular" young people rather than the loners who may need them most urgently. Jesus reached out to the persons who were discriminated against, the poor who were not well dressed, the sickly and even those possessed by demons.

These tragic events remind all of us of the shortness and unpredictability of life.  Pray that at this time many sinners will realize that they are not ready to meet their Maker and trust Christ for salvation.

The gospel is still the dynamite of God unto salvation. The power of the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead and changed Saul to Paul is as great today. Satanists can be saved! But we need to take the gospel to them with courage and love.

Trust the Lord to bring blessings out of this tragedy. The sovereign Lord can overrule evil for good. Never was there a greater miscarriage of justice than at Calvary. Jesus did not deserve to die. But God transformed this worst of all tragedies into a triumph of grace.

Instead of a victory for Satan, the sacrifice of Christ provided the atonement for all our sins. When everything else is crumbling around us, we need to grasp the realities that are unshaken. Jesus remains the same. God, God's promises are unfailing. Heaven and earth may pass away, Jesus said, but my words will not pass away. Challenges like this test the reality of our Christian faith, our love, our courage.

"The Lord is near the broken hearted" (Psalm.34:18).

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted" (Isaiah. 61:2).

"Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew. 5:4).

"The God of all comfort" comforts us in all our troubles "so that we can comfort others in any trouble" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Belief in God's providence, his foreknowing and planning of whatsoever comes to pass leads to praise in prosperity, patience in adversity and peace for the future. The peace that God gives is not best pictured by everything going right on a beautiful spring day. Rather, by the artist's painting of a terrible storm with lightning flashing, thunder clapping and rain pouring down, but on the swinging limb of a tree is a tiny bird happily chirping away.

Dr. Gordon R. Lewis

© Copyright 1999. Dr. Lewis has so graciously given permission for people to make copies of this article. However, please send a written request for permission to publish in emails, websites, newsletters, magazines, etc. Inquiries of requests for consent may be directed to editor@whereisgod.net 

Order One of Dr. Lewis' Books!

Decide for Yourself: A Theological Workbook (For People Who Are Tired of Being Told What to Believe) 

Description: Gordon R. Lewis surveys Christian doctrine, encouraging readers to draw their own conclusions from the evidence and arguments.

More Info!- Paperback

Testing Christianity's Truth Claims: Approaches to 

Christian Apologetics

Description: Testing Christianity's Truth Claims is a comparison of six different methods of reasoning that defenders of the faith used during the resurgence of evangelicalism in the last half of the 20th century.

More Info and Order!- Paperback

Integrative Theology

Ingram
This one-volume edition of the three-volume Integrative Theology will help Christians establish a solid, biblical foundation for their faith; learn to defend what they believe without contradiction and in the face of conflicting opinions; and practically apply their convictions to spiritual growth, service and communicating the gospel to others.

 

More Info and Order!- Paperback

  Click Here to See More of Dr. Lewis' Books!

          

A Dedication To Columbine High

To the students and families of Columbine High School: our hearts are with you, our love pours out to you, our thoughts are filled with you and our prayers are upon you. Words could never express our sorrow for all of the lives forever touched by this horrific tragedy, as we could never imagine the depths of your pain.

Sincerely, Where Is God Ministries

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All scripture quotations on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.