Q. Did God cause the recent 911 tragedy in New York City and Washington? Why would God let such a thing happen? What should the Christian think of such events?
2 Tim. 3:12-13
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
1* For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to Alamoth. A Song.>> God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
2* Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
3* Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
4* There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
5* God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
6* The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted.
7* The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
8* Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
9* He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.
10* “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11* The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
As a Child I learned a song, a song which many of you probably have sung as you have grown up, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. Do you believe that God controls the world?” But listen to what the beloved apostle John says:
1 John 5:19
19* We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
Does that come as a big surprise to you? How can that be? The key to this passage is your understanding what the “world” means. The Bible says that the world was created by Him and in Him all things hold together (Col.1:17). The “world” in this passage is a reference to the affairs of man.
Here’s what happened. In the beginning God created man and woman. It was a perfect world where he could have a loving relationship with His children so that in the cool of the evening He could walk with them in the garden. There was no pain, there was no sickness, there was no grief, no despair, no sorrow, no tears. Everything was as you and I would want it to be. But because God wanted us to love Him voluntarily and didn’t want us to be robots. He gave us the power to choose between good and evil. And what choice did Adam and Eve make? That’s right. Evil. And when they made that deliberate choice towards evil, sin came into the world. And when sin entered the world, the world forever changed. Things seemed to start going whacky then, Cain killed Abel, disease and despair was everywhere, and soon the “world” became so evil that God could deal with it in only one way. Do you remember what happened then? That’s right, every person was wiped off the face of the earth except for Noah and his family because of the sin in the world.
Just turn on the news at any time and what do you see? Greed, materialism, sensualism, drugs, muggings, killings, and many other bad things. That’s why John said in I John 2:15-16,
1 John 2:15-17
15* Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16* For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
17* The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
So the question is, “Is it God’s will that this tragic event happened?”
Absolutely not! But it is His will that people on earth have the power of free choice, and many make evil choices that affects innocent people.
But here’s the good news. John said in I John 4:4,
1 John 4:4
4* You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
God promises a great victory if we stay committed to Him.
Listen to the promise of God written by Paul in Romans 8:
28* And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Do you see the promise there? And don’t miss the most important word in this verse. It’s a small word, but a big word. “ALL things…” In other words, Paul is NOT saying that if you love God there will be no pain; if you love God there will be no suffering; if you love God there will be no death and no tragic events in life such as what we have seen this week. What he IS saying is that IN your sorrow, IN your suffering, IN your pain and anguish, IN death and IN the tragic events of life such as we have experienced this week, God can work ALL THINGS together for Good. Amen?
And the good news doesn’t stop there because Paul goes on to say:
35* Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36* Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
37* But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
38* For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39* nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do you see that? Those are just the things we are talking about in light of the events of this week: Hardship and danger. But nothing can separate us from God!
Here are some practical things I want you to remember:
1. Never confuse the evil in this world with God. When you and I look at all the ups and downs, the emotional roller coaster of life, remember that life is not fair, but God is good.
“For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.”
“the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children”
2. God’s closeness is not related to your circumstances. What happens is when we’re going through dark, difficult times in our lives, there is a tendency for us not to be able to sense the presence of God. And we think when we are going through tough times God must be far from us, and when we are going through good times God must be near. God is always near to us no matter what we are experiencing in our lives, if we are in a right relationship with Him.
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”
3. God hurts too. Can I tell you something? If you’re a believer, God lives within you. God lives within me. So when bad things come to me it affects Him also. When something happens to either of my children of a negative nature it hurts me too.
Remind yourself where was God when the Hebrew children were thrown into the fire? IN THE FIRE! What you’ve got to understand is that when you are in the most difficult times, that’s exactly where you find God. What’s Jesus doing right now? He’s interceding for you. He’s at the right hand of Father. He hurts when you hurt.
1 John 2:2 “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”
4. Spend time with God. This is so mundane but so very important. What happens is when trials come there is a tendency to think God is distant, so we continually need to cultivate our relationship with Him through study of His Word and prayer.
6* Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7* And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8* Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9* The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
5. Follow Jesus’ example. Jesus just shows us what to do. Remember what He did? Not once in the Gospels will you find him ever looking at the poor, or the diseased, or the downhearted, and say, “Oh, that shouldn’t be!” But do you know what he did? He ministered to it. You and I are to minister to unfairness.
I don’t understand why there are terrible events like we’ve seen this week, I don’t understand why there are broken homes, I don’t understand why there is cancer. I don’t like it, and you know what, I’m never going to understand it, but that’s OK because I can still minister to it.
6. Remember the cross. Remember the cross. If you ever ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”, remember the cross. Remember the fact that Jesus didn’t want to go to Cross. Don’t let anybody ever tell you He did. He wrestled with the Father in prayer in the garden, he sweat drops of blood and said, “God if there is any other way to accomplish your will, if there is a plan B, let’s do it.” But God said there was no other way, so Jesus humbled himself and became obedient even unto death, death on the cross.
Christ found himself, in the midst of a very troubling time IN THE VERY CENTER OF GOD’S WILL!
We can make it through any situation too if we stay focused on the cross of Jesus!
1 To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2* O my God, in You I trust, Do not let me be ashamed; Do not let my enemies exult over me.
3* Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.
4* Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.
5* Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.
6* Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old.
21* This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
22* The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.
23* They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
24* “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25* The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
26* It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.
1 John 4:17-21
17* By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
18* There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
19* We love, because He first loved us.
20* If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
21* And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
12* “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass,
13* That you have forgotten the LORD your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth, That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, As he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor?
1* Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my groaning.
2* Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, For to You I pray.
3* In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.
4* For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You.
5* The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.
6* You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
7* But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.
8* O LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; Make Your way straight before me.
9* There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue.
10* Hold them guilty, O God; By their own devices let them fall! In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out, For they are rebellious against You.
11* But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.
12* For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.