Where is God when tragedy strikes?

I was asked by a coworker yesterday, why are all these bad things happening in our country? What is going on? Why is God allowing these things to happen? If there is a God, why wouldn’t He stop these tragedies before they started?

It is very hard to know what to think and what to believe, when these tragedies happen. I can understand the frustration, especially when tragedy has become the norm in the last few years. Everything seems to be ripping at the seams as our country continues to bleed from these mass shootings, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

With these tragedies, it is so easy to lose hope and to give up. It can seem like there is no good left in this world, but just because a few people cause these situations, does not mean that everyone is bad. When these things happen the most important thing that we need to remember is that we still can be there for one another. When tragedy strikes, we need to come together to put an end to this violence.

When tragedies like this happen, it is easy to start blaming God for these events. We can blame Him for not stopping it, or in some people’s opinion for causing it. It is easy to blame God for it, because it allows us to put it off on Him. However, we need to remember that natural disasters and human-made disasters have existed since we have been on this planet.

Most people know the story in Genesis about the first death. In these verses, we see the consequence of our free will in play.

In Genesis 4: 6-12 it says, “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field. “While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

If we read these verses, we start to learn a few things about free will and about tragedy. First, we notice that Cain made a distinct decision to murder his brother. God did not put that into his head as we see Him finding out after the fact. We see the same type of scenario when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. God confronted them after the fact and not during the decision.

This is the issue when we are granted free will. We are given the opportunity to make any decision that we want, without God interfering. He set the world up this way, so that we would choose Him. He also did this, so that we could be born in His image. If He didn’t give us the free will, then the personality traits that we have today, would not exist.

If we relate this with our current situation, we will see that God was not the one who caused this tragedy. It was not God who pulled the trigger, but instead it was a man named Stephen Paddock, who used his free will to hurt and kill innocent people. This is the consequence of our free will. We are gifted with the power of free will, which allows us to make our own choices.

It can be hard to imagine then, how God can remain sovereign when we have free will. How can God be in control, if we are given the power to change our world with our choices?

The best way that I can answer this is by looking at what happens after these tragedies. Let’s look at what happened after 9/11. The whole nation mourned, but then something miraculous happened. We all came together in prayer for our country and for those families that lost loved ones. We were reminded that our petty differences and arguments were not important compared to each individual life.

If we look at pretty much every tragedy that has affected us in the last few years, we start to see a pattern with the aftermath. This is where God shows up for everyone to see. It is in the moments after a tragedy, when we stop are bickering and are fighting and we start to remember what is important. When we stop arguing about race, religion, politics, sex, and all the other problems that the whole country is dived on, then we learn what it means to love one another.

If we look at what happened with the back to back hurricanes of Harvey and Irma, we see this trend continue. We see the devastation and for a while it is grim, but during that tragedy, we see the true heart of our neighbors. We see people risking their lives to save others, and we see people sacrificing their money and their belongings to help others out. For a brief moment in our lives during tragedy, we start to learn what it means to love your neighbor. It is in those moments that God shines through.

When we look around today, we will still see God’s handiwork, no matter the situation. We just need to look for it. I do believe that God is in control, but I also believe that He has granted us a huge amount of power. He gave us free will, which is the deciding factor in everything that has happened since we set foot on this earth. He can remain sovereign, by being there for us no matter the situation, like a good Father would.

How do you find God during tragedy?





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