Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Why Does God Allow Horrible Things To Happen To Children?"

Russell is not sure how to answer this question. He knows and loves the Lord, and yet when asked, “Why does God allow horrible things to happen to children?” he finds his own answers unsatisfying. He knows God is good, and asks. "How can I answer this question?"

The problem is in the question. There is a lie right in it. To answer the question at all, without addressing the lie first, will leave the believer feeling they’ve dishonored God. So the first step is to address the lie, and then ask the question again.

The word that throws the question off track is “allow.” Let’s first point out that God does not “allow” any kind of sin at all. There are a few definitions of the word, but the way “allow” is used here, according to my Webster’s, is:

allow: PERMIT (for example: doesn’t allow people to smoke in his home) or b: to forbear or neglect to restrain or prevent (allow the dog to roam) {intransitive verb.}”

God doesn’t “allow” evil? Nowhere in scripture does he permit harming children. In fact, there’s no greater advocate for the children of this world, than God Himself. The problem with the word “allow” is that it implies that God could do something about a child’s suffering, but chooses not to. God is not passive. Lose those intransitive verbs when describing Him! He’s been very deliberate to care for the children. The problem is not with Him. The problem is, and always has been with unregenerate grown ups.

God Himself wrote out and gave us, “The Ten Commandments.” If these Commandments were honored, children would be safe. These commands are found, clearly marked, in the book of Exodus, chapter 20. I hear we once had them in our courtrooms. As you read them, imagine how safe all children would be, if mankind honored these commands of God. See the drama with which God deliberately bestowed upon mankind these tablets of commandments! He is not passive! If mankind obeyed, children would live in homes that honor God above all else. Imagine a world where children could live with no murder, where truthfulness is expected, with no unfaithful parents sleeping around, no theft, lying, or envying what others had? Contentment!

God finalized the giving of these commandments through Moses to all, with thunder and lightening and trumpet sounds. He then sealed the deal with a warning of judgment for those who disobeyed them. The people witnessing it were terrified. God made His will memorably clear! His people were to live these Commandments out in such a way, that the nations would turn to them to learn of God. Before Christ came, if people wanted to worship and learn of this wonderful God, who was God alone, they went to Jerusalem to learn of Him. The Ten Commandments were the basics. You didn't take them lightly. Children were protected.

But God’s people were not always obedient to the task. Many bible scholars believe that God rebukes Jonah for wanting God to destroy Nineveh, because God wanted to save Nineveh's children! God said to Jonah:

“But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Jonah 4:11

Nineveh was a huge city and that number was probably only the population of the children, too young to know the difference yet, between left and right.

Later God sent His Son Jesus to Earth, where He experienced fully, childhood. Knowing childhood, Jesus grew into manhood. He has some amazing things to say about children and how we adults are to treat them. Those mistreating children, beware:

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Matthew 18:5,6

Author of "Children in Crisis," Dr. Phyllis Kilbourn is the founder of Rainbows of Hope and Crisis Care International. She’s written numerous books on bringing healing to children of war: child prostitutes, child soldiers, child laborers, child prisoners, HIV positive children and AIDS Orphans, abused, abandoned and street children. She spent 22 years working with children in Liberia and Kenya, and has worked to help restore children's lives with the power and love of God.

I once heard someone ask her, "What do you say to children who ask, ‘Why does God let this happen to me?’" She thought for a moment and answered, "I have never heard a child ask that question. That is not a question that a child would ask."

Children desire to trust in someone who will love them and care for them. Through repeated maltreatment, they can become damaged and in time can grow cold. But God doesn’t allow it, people do. And apparently something worse than a millstone is coming. God’s judgment is coming.

Here's what Jesus says about children:

“And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:10

We are told to become like children. We are to come to God trusting. It is okay to ask God, "Why is this happening?" But do we really want to hear the answer? Because the answer is going to involve us! 2,007 or so years ago, Jesus commanded us to take the gospel out to the entire world. Have we done this yet? I don't know the latest figures, but aren't there more than 2,000 languages that still do not have a Bible, or even the Ten Commandments written in them?

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28:19-20


Ministry to children who have already been damaged by adults is important work. We need to bring Jesus to the world. We need to be about both now, because this world is a mess. Children at home and abroad are suffering.

Russ might try sounding out the people who ask him this question. “Do you know that judgment is coming?” It may be that the asker believes God doesn’t care about the children. But they might just be frustrated that His judgment on people who hurt children, isn’t coming now. Maybe they truly just want the suffering to end. That is hard.

God’s timing is not ours. We don’t fully understand his timing. But there will be a judgment and those who harm children are in the greatest of danger. We must trust God to work out the timing, according to both His justice and His mercy. We don’t seem to do well, juggling justice and mercy together. We tend to express these one at a time. God can do both at the same time.

God sent Jesus to save us out of both His justice and His mercy. Though enemies of God, He showed us love, by taking our punishment. As horrible as things are in this world, we are not in a position to demand immediate revenge on anyone. We ourselves were given grace. Yet to those who harm children, their time is surely coming:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9

God is the greatest advocate of children. It is unregenerate people who need to change. And judgment is coming. Meanwhile, there are opportunities to get involve at every level. Here are a couple good places to start. There are many more:

Viva

Rainbows of Hope

Here is a good verse that causes me to pray for mercy. God expects this of us parents:

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:15

3 comments:

Beau-Jeffrey said...

Dear Bro. Tom,

You've REALLY tackled an interesting--and TOUGH topic this time!

As you know, I have truly enjoyed reading your stuff and consider myself blessed to have you as a friend nay, brother in our Lord.

I have read through this several times now, and I must say, I do find it wanting.

First of all, I am no "authority" on such topics, although I have devoured the Scriptures over the years, exploring them from the inside out, prayerfully (of course). Having said that, my first thought when reading this through is not that we need to explore the definition of "allow," rather, we need to explore the word "evil." You see, the Scriptures are replete with examples of God destroying other nations--even His own people! This is God's JUDGMENT in action; His judgment against sin. And while unbeliever's might refer to this to being "evil," it is nothing more than God's RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT. For those who might jump in here to point out that this was BEFORE the New Covenant, that God's judgment is now reserved at "The Last Day," think again. There are examples in the New Testament as well. One comes to mind where He killed a king right before the peoples eyes, for being too proud. Another comes to mind when Ananias & Sapphira lied about selling a piece of property and keeping back some of the money. So, God is very much in control and will step in whenever He feels fit to do so...or not. He is also the same God "yesterday, today & tomorrow." His nature does NOT change from one point of time to another (eg. Old Testament to New). Yet, even after that thought came to me (about the need to dissect "evil" rather than "allow"), I remember looking up the word "evil" and doing an intense study on it several years ago, looking up every place it appeared in Scripture, and I was amazed at what I found. Several verses perplexed me--even had me questioning God for a bit. I took these to Him in prayer. I came to the conclusion that, first of all, God IS sovereign; God IS just; He IS holy & righteous. He is also all powerful, and He can do whatever He wants, when He wants. We do not have to like it or understand it; In fact, we will in many cases, NOT understand it. As it turned out, these very verses that I found to be perplexing, turned out to be invaluable in witnessing countless times to Jehovah's Witnesses (who teach that God does not "do"...or is not "behind" evil [which is a very interesting study]), and I have found that to be a great way to start breaking down their beliefs and get my foot in the door. Nevertheless, let's address whether He "allows" evil.

Maybe we should break it down a bit. First of all, is God all powerful? Is anyone or anything able to stop Him from what He has proposed to do? Is He able to stop anyone from doing what they have proposed to do? While it is true that God does give us "free will." there are COUNTLESS EXAMPLES in Scripture where someone has proposed to do something--only to have God "save the day" by intervening. So, suffice it to say that God CAN intervene in any given situation to prevent something, to heal someone, etc. but FOR WHATEVER REASON HE CHOOSES, He does not...He allows whatever it is to happen. When you take a close look at Job, you will see that God "allowed" Satan to do what he did. In fact, the Scriptures say that GOD HIMSELF had brought those adversities upon Job (most likely due to the fact that He COULD HAVE intervened to stop it at any time). One does not have to personally be doing the action to be held accountable FOR it. When David had Uriah killed--he did not personally carry out the action; Nevertheless, he WAS held accountable for the killing, due to the fact that he was king, he ordered it, and he could have intervened at any time to stop it...but he didn't.

We have to put our trust in God despite what we might read in Scripture that might appear to be against His nature because He is God. What do I mean "not because of what we might read in Scripture that might appear to be against His nature" Well, when you've been through the entire Bible at least 10 times, and you dig deep into the language (i.e. the Hebrew--not our English rendering of a particular word) you will find things that, let's just say, "Challenge your faith. For example, Romans 9. or how about Scripture mentions that "God sent an EVIL spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem..." (Judges 9.23). That "an EVIL spirit FROM GOD" was sent to "terrorize Saul" (1 Sam. 16.14). In another place (I don't have time to look it up right now), God sent a "LYING spirit" to deceive a king (isn't there a commandment prohibiting lying?)

"It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal" (Deut. 32.39). "Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the lord has commanded it? It is not from the mouth of the Most High that BOTH GOOD AND EVIL go forth?" (Lam. 3.37,38).

So much more could be cited but I've got to run. While God DOES love children--He intensely loves ALL OF YES, regardless of age, and we must come to Him "as a child" (i.e. wholly trusting in Him). Now that I have a little girl (6 months old July 12th), I'm beginning to understand what that means,more & more. The whole point of the matter is this, God IS SOVEREIGN, JUST, RIGHTEOUS & HOLY, and as the Scriptures state over and over again, "His ways are not our ways" and "His understanding is far beyond ours." The whole point of the matter is this, God IS just, and as the Scriptures state over and over again, "His ways are not our ways" and "His understanding is far beyond ours." Trust God for what you DO understand...and for what you do NOT understand, and simply pray for understanding and rest in Him until that glorious day. Finally, remember, you do NOT have to have the answer to everything. One day, all will be revealed, and we will no longer need to question why or why not He allows (or does) what He does. AMEN!!!

I love you Tom. Keep up the good work of the Kingdom!

Bro. Beau-Jeffrey

Beau-Jeffrey said...

Dear Bro. Tom,

You've REALLY tackled an interesting--and TOUGH topic this time!

As you know, I have truly enjoyed reading your stuff and consider myself blessed to have you as a friend nay, brother in our Lord.

I have read through this several times now, and I must say, I do find it wanting.

First of all, I am no "authority" on such topics, although I have devoured the Scriptures over the years, exploring them from the inside out, prayerfully (of course). Having said that, my first thought when reading this through is not that we need to explore the definition of "allow," rather, we need to explore the word "evil." You see, the Scriptures are replete with examples of God destroying other nations--even His own people! This is God's JUDGMENT in action; His judgment against sin. And while unbeliever's might refer to this to being "evil," it is nothing more than God's RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT. For those who might jump in here to point out that this was BEFORE the New Covenant, that God's judgment is now reserved at "The Last Day," think again. There are examples in the New Testament as well. One comes to mind where He killed a king right before the peoples eyes, for being too proud. Another comes to mind when Ananias & Sapphira lied about selling a piece of property and keeping back some of the money. So, God is very much in control and will step in whenever He feels fit to do so...or not. He is also the same God "yesterday, today & tomorrow." His nature does NOT change from one point of time to another (eg. Old Testament to New). Yet, even after that thought came to me (about the need to dissect "evil" rather than "allow"), I remember looking up the word "evil" and doing an intense study on it several years ago, looking up every place it appeared in Scripture, and I was amazed at what I found. Several verses perplexed me--even had me questioning God for a bit. I took these to Him in prayer. I came to the conclusion that, first of all, God IS sovereign; God IS just; He IS holy & righteous. He is also all powerful, and He can do whatever He wants, when He wants. We do not have to like it or understand it; In fact, we will in many cases, NOT understand it. As it turned out, these very verses that I found to be perplexing, turned out to be invaluable in witnessing countless times to Jehovah's Witnesses (who teach that God does not "do"...or is not "behind" evil [which is a very interesting study]), and I have found that to be a great way to start breaking down their beliefs and get my foot in the door. Nevertheless, let's address whether He "allows" evil.

Maybe we should break it down a bit. First of all, is God all powerful? Is anyone or anything able to stop Him from what He has proposed to do? Is He able to stop anyone from doing what they have proposed to do? While it is true that God does give us "free will." there are COUNTLESS EXAMPLES in Scripture where someone has proposed to do something--only to have God "save the day" by intervening. So, suffice it to say that God CAN intervene in any given situation to prevent something, to heal someone, etc. but FOR WHATEVER REASON HE CHOOSES, He does not...He allows whatever it is to happen. When you take a close look at Job, you will see that God "allowed" Satan to do what he did. In fact, the Scriptures say that GOD HIMSELF had brought those adversities upon Job (most likely due to the fact that He COULD HAVE intervened to stop it at any time). One does not have to personally be doing the action to be held accountable FOR it. When David had Uriah killed--he did not personally carry out the action; Nevertheless, he WAS held accountable for the killing, due to the fact that he was king, he ordered it, and he could have intervened at any time to stop it...but he didn't.

We have to put our trust in God despite what we might read in Scripture that might appear to be against His nature because He is God. What do I mean "not because of what we might read in Scripture that might appear to be against His nature" Well, when you've been through the entire Bible at least 10 times, and you dig deep into the language (i.e. the Hebrew--not our English rendering of a particular word) you will find things that, let's just say, "Challenge your faith. For example, Romans 9. or how about Scripture mentions that "God sent an EVIL spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem..." (Judges 9.23). That "an EVIL spirit FROM GOD" was sent to "terrorize Saul" (1 Sam. 16.14). In another place (I don't have time to look it up right now), God sent a "LYING spirit" to deceive a king (isn't there a commandment prohibiting lying?)

"It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal" (Deut. 32.39). "Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the lord has commanded it? It is not from the mouth of the Most High that BOTH GOOD AND EVIL go forth?" (Lam. 3.37,38).

So much more could be cited but I've got to run. While God DOES love children--He intensely loves ALL OF YES, regardless of age, and we must come to Him "as a child" (i.e. wholly trusting in Him). Now that I have a little girl (6 months old July 12th), I'm beginning to understand what that means,more & more. The whole point of the matter is this, God IS SOVEREIGN, JUST, RIGHTEOUS & HOLY, and as the Scriptures state over and over again, "His ways are not our ways" and "His understanding is far beyond ours." The whole point of the matter is this, God IS just, and as the Scriptures state over and over again, "His ways are not our ways" and "His understanding is far beyond ours." Trust God for what you DO understand...and for what you do NOT understand, and simply pray for understanding and rest in Him until that glorious day. Finally, remember, you do NOT have to have the answer to everything. One day, all will be revealed, and we will no longer need to question why or why not He allows (or does) what He does. AMEN!!!

I love you Tom. Keep up the good work of the Kingdom!

Bro. Beau-Jeffrey

seanmom6 said...

There was a case in New Mexico Baby Brianna she was 6months old her father , mother and uncle bit her threw her to the ceiling and let her hit the floor they raped and sodomized her over and over till she died. I want to know why God didn't take that baby why did he let her suffer the worst anyone could suffer let alone a 6month old baby it was also found she had been abused her whole 6 months of life that is pure evil why didnt god at least take the baby before she sufferd.my faith is shaken