Why do tragedies happen to God’s people, especially those who have lived an exemplary life of faith and service? If God is good, why is there so much misery, suffering, persecution, and injustice in the world? These are questions that, if you and I are honest, have troubled each of us at one time or another.
Simplistic answers such as, “We live in a fallen world,” “It is God’s curse on sinful humanity,” “It is the devil’s fault,” or, “It is God’s permissive will,” may contain elements of truth. But they do not always settle the deepest questions of our hearts.
In my experience, there are two chief reasons why we go through very difficult times—and both of them are for our ultimate good. The first is a condition we can do something about—the sin of independence. The second is something we have no control over—God’s initiation of hardship out of His desire to raise us up to a new level of intimacy with Himself. This second reason is at the very core of the story of Job.
I want to say very emphatically that I cannot give you all the answers. This should not surprise you—for none of us will ever fully understand God and His ways. If we could, He would not be God.
But, I have found two Scripture passages to be particularly helpful in shedding light on this issue of unanswered questions. In Romans 11:33, Paul says of God:
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
If you try to search the judgments of God, you will never reach the bottom. Similarly, if you try to know all the ways of God, you will discover that they are past finding out. Recognizing this reality will help you immeasurably, just by coming to the awareness that events and circumstances will happen in your life that you may never understand and for which you may never know the reason.
The second Scripture, which is very familiar to most of us, is Proverbs 3:5:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
Some years ago my wife, Ruth, was having a problem with her neck. In the process of seeking the Lord about it, He showed her from this verse in Proverbs that she was actually disobeying Scripture. Instead of trusting the Lord, she was trying to understand what was going on with her neck and what she should do about it. Have you ever done that? I certainly have, and yet this tendency on our part is actually contrary to Scripture.
The Scripture says we are to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not to lean on our own understanding. It is not wrong to want to understand. But our understanding must be secondary to trusting in the Lord.
Thus, when we approach some of the difficult questions of life, we must begin with this basic understanding—for the most part, God and His ways are beyond our finding out. Therefore, trust, not understanding, is the only secure basis of our walk with the Lord.