This question will not be so preeminent in our hearts when we understand God’s big picture; the plan of the ages, the time of the restoration of all things, when justice will be done, when mountains will be made low and valleys will be exalted. Until we understand these things, we will still ask…
“If everyone has a purpose, then what about the people who were killed in the Rwandan genocide?”
“What about all the people that were killed in all the world wars? Why did their lives have to be wasted”
“What about the children that were born and died before they were a week old, after being carried full term by their mothers? Why did they have to be born if they were going to end up dying so young?”
“What about the seeming senseless deaths that abound worldwide? Why does God allow all of that?”
These questions abound in different shapes and forms. They can all be subsumed in one…
Many people have questions like these. These questions will be answered in very sufficient ways when we understand God’s big picture. When we ask about a particular event like the Rwandan genocide (which took place in 1994, and in 3 months, an estimated 800000 people were slaughtered), we should know that the Rwandan genocide is not special in anyway. Worse genocides have occurred throughout the ages. Why? What is behind such events? I think it’s very plain that sin is behind it. This is why when God says that you should not do something, you should not do it. It should be obvious to any serious follower of Jesus who is paying attention: the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)
One of our human problems is the inability to take the fault for our actions, the inability to acknowledge that things do not occur totally independently of themselves. That means that my actions, even right now in answering this question, or my failure to do so, will have consequences. If I refuse to answer the question, it could be due to selfishness or because I feel that it doesn’t deserve an answer; or depending on who is asking, I may feel that someone needs to do better homework and pay better attention. On the other hand, love can drive me to make an effort.
In a very real, large cosmic sense, God is doing things in the earth to demonstrate His heart and mind, not just to mankind, but also to other parts of His creation that we are unaware of. We must acknowledge that actions carry consequences and the consequences don’t affect us alone. If our parents misbehave or act wrongly, or their parents act wrongly, or the Governor of their state or their boss in the office misbehaves, there would be a ripple effect on other people. That’s the reality. This is the same way a righteous act leads to a ripple effect. If a government official spends money making good roads, or to provide electricity, everybody is happier. There are consequences of actions.
We cannot just receive good and not receive evil (Job 2:10 – But he said unto her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.). Within us, nobody really sits down and goes into asking and questioning and challenging why God allows someone to donate money and feed those who do not have enough. No one really questions why someone is permitted to pick up an orphan or some poor family and cater for them, providing for their needs. No one asks those questions. Everyone seems absolutely fine and goes like, “Ah! This is how things should be.” No one has any issues with enjoying the consequence of a good action. No one really thinks, “So why are people going outside the country to the United States?” or “Why do people want to go to so-called greener pastures?” No one complains about those things. No one challenges them. We take it in stride that good things should come to people from others and we’re happy with it.
How many times do you sit down and say, “God why? Why should God let this? Why should it be that Mr. A worked and Mr. B is enjoying the fruits of Mr. A’s work, through the magnanimity and the generosity of Mr. A?” No, we don’t ask that. But we are quick to ask “Why do bad things happen?” Bad things happen because people, beginning with our first parents (Adam and Eve), disobeyed God. That’s all! The plain answer, the big answer, the ultimate answer – bad things happen because mankind chose to disobey God. And till tomorrow, whenever people disobey God bad things will happen… .
Now that we have seen why bad things happen, let us look at the more specific question: “Should bad things not happen ONLY to the person who took the action?” [in other words, “Why do bad things happen to good people who did nothing?”].
Just like doing good things does not affect only the person who took the [good] action, so also, bad things do not only affect the person who took the [bad] action. So let’s say someone does something good, carries out good acts, for example, executes a road repair project leading up to his house. Everyone who passes along that road will enjoy the smoothness of the ride. If someone powers a house with many tenants, many people will have electricity. If someone sets up a factory so that he can have money to take care of his family, in the process, other people will be employed. Those people who will be employed will have money to take care of their own families.
Good is not selective, it reaches out to others. Evil also does same. We must accept that this is the reality of existence and stop calling God into question. If you throw a knife into the air and you stand under it, and it comes down and plunges its blade into you, into some part of your body, it is called consequence. Nobody has ever gone on a tirade against [what we know about] gravity, we just accept it. We should also just accept that there are consequences for the acts of men that affect others.
Now, when God acts many times, it is to intervene and adjust some of the consequences, and we call His acts miracles. But other times also, God allows things happen that are directly a result of actions. He has allowed things happen too, that are not a result of an action, but as a part of His long term plan.
So, finite humanity, who cannot see beyond their noses, want to understand what possible good can come out of genocide. I can tell you some good [in my finiteness]. Amongst the good that can come is a warning to many, many others who are tempted to stir up hatred against another group of people. All around the world, the story of Rwanda is being told, and is a cause for pause for many other societies that would have degenerated into a similar situation. So it’s an example. The Bible tells us that Sodom and Gomorrah were judged as an example to others.
Luke 17:28-30 – (28) Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; (29) but on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. (30) It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
2 Peter 2:6 – God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed them by burning them to ashes. He made those cities an example to ungodly people of what is going to happen to them.
Jude 1:7 – _What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities near them *is an example* for us of the punishment of eternal fire. The people of these cities suffered the same fate that God’s people and the angels did, because they committed sexual sins and engaged in homosexual activities.
Likewise, the Bible also tells us that Israel’s experiences are given as an example for us.
1 Corinthians 10:6,11 —  Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved….  Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
So we see that God allows things happen to a few or to very many people, as an example for others, living illustrations. The nation of Israel is a living illustration. To worry, “But why would God allow them to be an illustration? Doesn’t He care about how they felt or how they feel?”
I will answer this question this way: “I am a father. When my children misbehave, I discipline them. How much do I care about how my child feels when I am spanking him or her? When I spank them for misbehaving, I am concerned about the outcome, the kind of child he or she will become. If my child sees something — say a piece of cake or a biscuit — liked it, wants it, and then stole it without permission; when I cause him or her pain, they cry. You hear children say things like, “Why did Daddy beat me like that?” ‘Well, I beat you like that so you wouldn’t do it again; so you’d be a living illustration to your other siblings, so you would remember it as an example of what happens to people who act that way or do those things. I am looking at the long term effect, not just for you, but also for your siblings. I can cause you pain for others, I can cause you pain with good in mind.’”
Then follows the next question: “But what good can come after someone is dead?”
That’s what it all boils down to. If you know that there is life after now, that there’s an after-life, there’s more to come in millions (maybe billions or more) years, then why on earth would you be so fixated on what happens in a period of anywhere between two to a hundred years? Why would it matter so much? God always sees the large and long term picture so these things that happen to mankind in a short time are not as massive in His eyes as you think. This is super important, we must never forget it!
Something very terrible happened: a child was dropped off in boarding school. He felt like his heart would fall out. He’s in such pain. He cannot believe that his mother and father would do such a thing to him.
“Why would they abandon me in this place and go away for three months? Why would my mommy ever do such a thing?” the child asks.
The reason parents can do such a thing is so that the child would grow up, get educated, learn all the virtues of independence and survival, and all the benefit that flows out from it, not just to yourself, but to your family and the rest of the world, would be reaped forever. Pain is permitted because of its benefits. The things that God allows are linked to the long term benefit for the whole earth and all creation.
All the questions, the specifics about why evil happens, why good people are born and they die, why Judas did what he did, etc., has one answer: good will not come if it is not done. There are benefits for the child who goes off to boarding school. After a while, he may look forward to going back to secondary school. He may have friends after the first term. The darkness will be past, and the day will dawn.
There is a dawning coming on the earth; all pain and sorrow will be removed, justice and fairness will be established. The calling of the Lord Jesus, especially as laid out in the book of Isaiah, is to establish justice and fairness in the earth.
Isaiah 42:1-4 – Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delights: I have put my Spirit on him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. (2) He will not cry, nor lift up his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street. (3) A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick will he not quench: he will bring forth justice in truth. (4) He will not fail nor be discouraged, until he have set justice in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his law. (See also Isaiah 9:7, 16:5, 33:5, 51:5, 61:8 among others).
The inhabitants of the world will be glad and delighted. They will look back and will not remember the pain. They will scoff at the things that once seemed dreadful; just the same way a student in SSS3 would scoff at the way he had felt when he was in JSS1. You will look back and long for those days in some way because now you can see well. This is the reality of the place we are, the time we are in, and the season upon us.
Now, if you don’t understand that there will be a restoration of all things, if you don’t understand ultimate reconciliation, you can listen to our Believers Bible Class on Resurrection of the dead and Aeonian Judgment here.LINK
Act 3:21 – …whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets.
Because you do not understand, so you say, “Why such a futile, purposeless and even sadistic effort? Why would God make people, have them suffer through this world and go through needless pain, and then hand many of them right back to eternal burning, where they will burn forever? Why would you create people only to torture them forever?”
But that is not true. The idea of burning people forever is a misconception that we have looked through the Bible and proven with nearly hundreds of verses. The error gives birth to the lie. And if we know that it’s not true, then how can we be asking these kinds of questions? Whatever pain we go through, when the morning comes, like a mother giving birth, we will forget the pains of labour. That’s one of the most obvious illustrations for all of humanity: a woman giving birth. She’s in such terrible pain that she cannot believe. It is so horrible that she feels she’ll die. Some women even pass out, But children give their parents the greatest joy. Childbirth is God’s living and constant reminder of the fall (Genesis 3:16 – He said to the woman, “I will increase your pain and your labour when you give birth to children.¬), and the fact that all of us, humanity, we’re going to give birth to new life through pain.
The pain that we undergo is to allow us appreciate even greater the blessings that come thereafter, and to teach us that good things don’t come easily. Eve tried to partake, with Adam, in the acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil easily (Genesis 3:1-6). She should have kept walking with God and as she grew from babyhood to maturity, she would have learned about the Lord Himself. According to Hebrews 5, she would have learned to discern between good and evil through ‘reason of use’, exercise, practice. Hebrews 5:14 – But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.
Time and practice would have taught her things [knowledge of good and evil], but she tried to get it instantly the same way Satan still offers people things at once. He tempts them, telling them, “You can get this immediately”. Immediately receiving all the things that we want is not God’s will. It is not how God operates.
Every sin, I have so often pointed out, is not really a sin of wanting what you shouldn’t have. It’s a sin of wanting it out of time. Time is the challenge!
Sex? Wait till you get married, then you can have sex.
Money? Wait till you’ve worked hard, then you can have money.
It’s an endless list. You might get yours eventually, but some people will say, “No! How do you know? Some people can’t have it. Some people will never marry. Some people will never have money.”
But hold on. Just a minute. Within what time frame are we discussing this? What time frame are we looking at to arrive at the summation? We keep surmising too many things. The world does not end in this age. There will be another age and another following after that. And the Bible talks about how there is a ‘Jubilee’ and I believe that all creation will have a Jubilee when creation will go back to what it was meant to be; because that’s what jubilees are about.
Leviticus 25:10, 13, 39-41, 54 – And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan… “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.… “If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: he shall be with you as a hired servant and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers… . And if he is not redeemed by these means, then he and his children with him shall be released in the year of jubilee.
Who told you that everyone would not have the opportunity to have sex and sleep with someone and be married within the safe custody of a marriage relationship? Who told us? Doesn’t the Bible say that He created them male and female at the beginning?
Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Matthew 19:4 – He answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female…
Who said there won’t be a male and female for everyone? But as it is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” But God has revealed those things to us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
There are many plans that God has. No one has the right to say that it won’t happen because you cannot say that you extracted that thought from scripture. You just have never thought of it. The goodness of God is vast. When we understand the big picture, we will look back and not be offended anymore. But even now, if we are wise, we won’t be offended. We will just trust God that He is good and all He does is good and He understands these things.
Now does this mean that our futures are written in stone?
Can your actions never affect what will happen to you in the future? No, you can affect it by your obedience to God. Fatalism is not of God. God is a God that says, “I know the plans that I have for you; plans for good and not of evil, to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). There’s nothing fatalistic about that.
God bless you.
– Pastor Ita Udoh
24th September, 2020
© God’s Lighthouse.