One of the most difficult issues in the world is the issue of suffering. Most everyone has probably asked at one time or another: “Why is there suffering – and if God is good, and if God is powerful, then how can there be such evil and suffering in the world?”
This is a very big question that really warrants a much longer answer, but here is part of that answer in a nutshell: The issue for us is that this world is not what God originally created. When Adam and Eve sinned, the world became a fallen place where evil reigned. And this fallen state continues today.
A Snapchat video was created on June 17, 2015 a Wednesday night at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, near the heart of Charleston’s tourist district. The video shows a small bible study group sitting around a table together. People who had gathered in prayer, in community, coming together for the sole purpose of praying, and worshiping God. Nothing in this video suggests the heinous act of selfishness to come. Six women and three men were killed, eight died at the scene; the ninth died at a local hospital. One of the men sitting at the table with the group did the unspeakable, this after spending an hour or so with them, he may have even prayed with them before he shot and killed those nine people.
Although it’s natural for us to ask the question “Why God?” especially when we are in the midst of a difficult situation or trial in life, if we continue to ask the “Why God?” questions, then we will get stuck in our pain and frustration. The purpose of this post is not to list all the reasons why a good and sovereign God can allow such difficult and painful things to happen in this world. And even if we did, there are some things in this life we may never know or fully understand.
On Friday June 19, 2015 Dylann Roof the man who sat with them before attacking them appeared at a bond hearing. Families of the victims addressed him and said they forgave him. That message was echoed by Steve Hurd, the husband of victim Cynthia Hurd. He’s in the Merchant Marines and arrived in Charleston on Saturday. “This is all surreal but what I can say is that in time I will forgive you, I won’t move past this but I will forgive you. But I hope for the rest of your life, however long or short that may be, you stop and play that tape over and over and over again in your head and see the sheer terror and pain you put purely innocent people through. …I would love to hate you but hate’s not in me. If I hate you I’m no better than you.”
Sometimes forgiving someone can be one of the hardest things we ever have to do. We must always remember that the principle of forgiveness is at the center of our faith. The Word of God is very clear about our duties to forgive. We do not have a choice in the matter.
In Matthew 5:44 Jesus says to followers ” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,..”
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:17-21
The person who is not willing to forgive others will find his fellowship with God hindered (Matthew 6:15) and can reap bitterness and the loss of reward (Hebrews 12:14–15; 2 John 1:8).
Although we don’t understand it all, God is infinitely good, He has His children’s best interests in mind, and He wants to help us get through our difficult circumstances. So, this is the game-changer: When you’re ready, stop asking “why?” and start asking, “What?” For example, ask God, “What do you want me to learn?” Or, “God, what do you want to do in me through this difficult time?” Or even, “God, what good could come out of this, if any? What do you think about this situation?”
There’s some deep theology to explore that is behind learning to ask “What?” but for now, we can be confident that when we do ask it, God will lead us to the right spot.
Please pray the Holy Spirit comforts the families and friends of the nine victims, and yes pray to God that His will be done in the life of Dylann Roof.