Is God to Blame for Tragedies and Suffering?

What the Lord Wants

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Knowing that the Lord is in control may not be satisfying. If the Lord is in control, then isn’t He to blame for evil events? This leads us to a second basic truth: The Lord never wants evil things to happen. Evil is not part of the Lord’s will. “`I know the thoughts I think towards you,’ says the Lord, `thoughts of peace and not of evil.'” (Jeremiah 29:11) When a young child dies, remember: “It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:14)

God cannot cause evil because He is totally good. God is love. (1 John 4:7,8) He is merciful and forgiving, gentle and kind. (Exodus 34:6) And because He cannot work against Himself, He cannot do evil. “Far be it from God to do wickedness; and from the Almighty to commit iniquity.” (Job 34:10) “His work is perfect…a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

We might think that God does not care about us because He allows us to suffer. In fact He is aware of our suffering, and He grieves when we are not happy. When Mary and other Jews were weeping in mourning for Lazarus, the Lord felt their sorrow in Himself–He wept, groaning within Himself. (John 11:33, 35, 38) And He wept for Jerusalem because of the twisted passions that had taken away its peace. (Luke 19:41) “How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings and you would not.” (Matthew 23:37) Even moments before His crucifixion after having been ridiculed, beaten and whipped, the Lord spoke with concern for the suffering of others, not His own: “Weep not for me, but for yourselves and your children.” (Luke 23:38)

Mercy is love grieving. The grief and suffering of Jesus was the ultimate expression of the Divine love for humankind. He came into the world to fight beside us and within us against the subtle hellish urges that threatened the existence of any genuinely human love. He took up—takes up–our struggle against evil, because with Divine compassion He feels our misery as if it were His own. “His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” (Judges 10:16) “He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Isaiah 53:4) “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” (Isaiah 63:9) Because He has experienced our suffering, He can help us survive it. “For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:11, 18) He is one who can “be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Again and again we read of the Lord’s awareness and experience of our suffering. “You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities.” (Psalm 31:7) “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,…You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4) “Is Ephraim my dear son?…My bowels are troubled for him.” (Jeremiah 31:20) The Lord so much identifies with us, that whatever suffering we inflict–or benefits we confer–upon each other, He feels our pain or joy as if we had done it to Him. “If you have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40, 45)

It is clear that human suffering is not part of His will. He permits it reluctantly. “He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:33) “`I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord God. `Therefore turn, and live!'” (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11)

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