A Much Needed Perspective: Where Was God?

Kenya_montageThe following is part of a newsletter send from RZIM, the ministry of Ravi Zacharias, written by John Njoroge, a Kenyan who knows more than most of us what our Garissan brothers and sisters in Christ have gone through and are going through as targets of religious persecution. You can read more of John’s thoughts at the RZIM site. Here’s what he had to say in answer to the question, Where was God?

This is one question that, predictably and inevitably, comes up when tragedy strikes, and legitimately so. It is most pertinent for those who claim Jesus Christ as the definitive stamp of God’s presence on earth – God in human flesh. The Bible presents us with a God who is all-good and all-powerful. No religious system that does not worship a Being who is thus described faces this particular problem of evil. But if God is morally perfect, why doesn’t He intervene to stop these types of evil?

One can approach this question in two ways: from an intellectual/logical perspective or from an emotional/experiential perspective. In the face of tragedy, the most vexing issue is not whether or not there is a logical contradiction between believing in a perfect God given the reality of evil. That is actually easier to handle. By creating us as moral beings, God gave us the ability to choose, and with that ability came the possibility of evil.

Our ability to choose is at once God’s most powerful means of conferring dignity upon us as well as a deadly gift. It all depends on how we choose to use the gift. Nevertheless, we need to note that God’s jurisdiction extends beyond this life, and when all is said and done, every human being will be held accountable for his or her actions.

So the intellectual side of the equation is easier to address, and it is not the main issue that troubles us in the face of tragedy. The real problem is the emotional angst one inescapably feels while trying to understand why God would seemingly stand by and watch as these horrendous activities take place.

However, the Gospel message grasps this nettle with unparalleled authority and beauty. On Good Friday this weekend, Christians remembered the ghastly murder of God’s innocent Son, Jesus Christ, on a Roman cross. The crucifixion was preceded by many hours of unbelievable flogging and humiliation. In the face of this untold horror, Jesus raised this very question with God the Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[1]

So, where was God when His Son suffered a slow, excruciating death on the cross? In biblical terms, God made the arrangement for this event before the world began.[2] And about seven hundred years before the crucifixion, the prophet Isaiah wrote,

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”[3]

God knew the choices we would make, and He knew the depth of the evil in the human heart.

A story that has emerged from Garissa offers us a powerful analogy. One of the students, Hellen Titus, told the Kenyan media how she was able to escape from the tragedy as the shooters hovered over her and her fellow students. She covered herself with someone else’s blood and was thereby mistaken for dead. That is exactly what Jesus has done for us; He invites us to be covered with His blood so that we can live. And when we are thus protected, we may grieve, but we do not grieve like those without hope, and we do not fear those who can only kill the body but cannot touch the soul.

So, why doesn’t God intervene in these types of situations? He has.

John Njoroge

John is the host of the African versions of RZIM’s radio programs Let My People Think and Just Thinking, which are heard in several countries across the African continent.

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[1] Matthew 27:46
[2] Revelation 13:8
[3] Isaiah 53:5

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Published in: on April 6, 2015 at 6:47 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 Comments

  1. Of course, he’s right.

    In the past few weeks, and many times, actually, I’ve given some thought to those who experience instant death – especially the young.

    In this case, it’s been the German airline pilot, a man filled with black wickedness and evil, who took 153 innocent lives with him. I can imagine, just one among many, a young high school student on that flight, thinking of the various things he will do when he gets home: The soccer team he’ll soon join; the girl he will finally ask out for a date; what college he’ll apply to attend; the car he’ll finally buy and all the rest of those wonderful things that make up a life.

    And then a moment later, he’s dead, and all the those things are dead with him; and he had no idea – couldn’t even fathom it – that it would be all over in a brief, coming instant. And what will happen to him if he never considered God, not denying him, but now affirming him in his life, either? How will God deal with him? What will be his eternal fate? I don’t know. But I do know that evil assures the existence of God, and the chance and choice for him to override it and deal with such a person with love and compassion and fairness. And I especially know that my soul bleeds for the things I don’t understand, and I am very tired of not understanding. Yes, evil assures the existence of God, and that I do understand.

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  2. What a lovely just so story. Of course, it makes no sense but it sure feels pious because no matter what happens the good will be evidence for the beneficence of God and the bad will be evidence for man’s wickedness and thus the need for more God. But childhood cancer? Not so much. Hence, the need to keep pushing the just-so story and maybe that will make it true.

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  3. This is a very great analogy. I will use this when explaining God’s atonement for our sins.

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