Many of us have a view of God that paints him as holy and therefore unblemished by the dark world in which we live. We believe he is pure and lovely. We believe he is perfect in all of his ways.
But not everyone has that high opinion of God; and some of them may not be who you think. In fact, I know people who attend religious services every week who have a jaded view of God. Usually the flaw they see in God's character comes from experiencing a tragedy. From that moment on a question enters their mind that casts a shade of darkness. It stains the pure vestiments they believed God wears. The blood shed, if you will, is on his hands and they can't see it any other way.
The question that keeps them from being able to worship the God they thought they knew is as simple as it is powerful.
"If God really is good, why did he let that bad thing happen to good people?"
One way some people answer this is to take the coward's way out.
Their answer: "God was just as shocked by that tragedy as you were. God can't foresee bad things that happen any better than we can."
But that means that in order to vindicate God, they have to paint him less powerful than the Bible gives him credit for. There are several verses in the Bible that make it plain that God is perfectly sovereign. He knows the beginning and the end.
There is a better way to answer that question. The best way is to answer the right way. A truthful answer to a difficult question may not feel good, anymore than pulling an infected tooth. But if healing is going to happen, it's going to happen with the truth.
Now, most people in this situation have a hard time articulating it. They want to be able to worship God. If they had the ability to understand how they are seing it wrong, they'd be grateful for it. It's my hope that you are that type of person.
So here's the truthful answer:
God would never let bad things happen to good people.
The truth is that there is no such thing as a good person. Romans 3:10 says that there is none righteous, no not even one. To believe that people are good means that God gave the law so that people could have a mirror to enjoy rather than a standard to live up to.
If I invited you to my house for dinner and you accepted, imagine I gave you a list of house rules:
1. Don't kill my Family
2. Don't try to seduce my Wife
3. Don't tell us a bunch of lies or spread lies about us.
4. Don't steal any of our stuff.
Now, if I was serious about these rules and I thought you needed to know them, that would say a lot about what I thought of your character.
When God gave the law, it wasn't just to inform us of God's character. It also informed us of our character! If that wasn't enough, when God came to redeem us, he needed to suffer and die on a cross for that to be accomplished.
But maybe you still don't think I'm seeing this right. After all, aren't some people better than others?
Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to ask 3 questions I'll let you answer on your own:
1. Do you believe you were born better than anyone else?
2. Would you rebel against the 3rd Reich or would you go along to get along?
3. What makes you different than a Nazi?
For Bible believing Christians, they answer these questions easily.
1. "No, I'm not any better than anyone else"
2. "I'd probably go along with the 3rd Raich since I just admitted that I'm no different"
3. The only thing that makes me different is time and curcumstance.
If we can admit that we're bad enough to need the same sacrifice of Jesus as everyone else, then It's easier to realize the flaw we see in the character of God is actually our own flaw projected on God. Rather than blaming God for bad things, we can agree that bad things wouldn't happen if we didn't get that ball rolling from the beginning.
Here's a tip:
Next time you're tempted to blame God for bad things that happen, remember the Gospel. The truth is that you don't need to blame God when God already willingly took the blame for all bad things. He took it willingly. Instead of putting God in the interrigation room, remember that you'd have to take him off the cross first. Behold your God as the self-sacrificing, agape love giving, all powerful God who forgives our iniquity by his own blood.
That blood on his hands, isn't the blood of good people. It's his own blood and he shed it for bad people; like you and me.