Our reflex, when things go hard, is to act as though we must know why God chose to let things happen the way that he did. Some folks will pretend that they know, assuming that they can figure out the ways and plans of the Lord. Others just howl in frustration as they demand answers from God that they do not receive. And, of course, if this all continues, some will walk away from their claimed faith because they are unsatisfied with how God does things and then refuses to explain himself.
Job experienced this, of course. He hurt, demanded answers, and had the Lord respond. But God’s response to Job did not ever answer his question. Instead, God showed Job that God is infinitely above him, and thus Job cannot rightly begin to question God.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon questions and questions why the world works the way that it does. He gets to a place where he feels like life is meaningless. Bad people get good things. Bad things happen to good people. And it takes until chapter 12 for him to remember that fearing God is what makes life meaningful.
And in my read through the Bible, Jesus shows us that he is the same God who will not be forced to explain himself to people who cannot possibly understand his ways. Watch as a group asks Jesus about a tragedy, Jesus brings up another tragedy, and then we get what we are to learn.
Luke 13:1-5 – 1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Why did these bad things happen? All Jesus gives is that the people who suffered a great hardship did not suffer it because they were worse sinners than others. But then, in both cases that Jesus spoke of, the Savior told us one simple piece of advice. Instead of thinking we can figure out why God does the things he does, instead of thinking we can demand he answer us, we should repent. We are sinner. We deserve far worse judgment than any of us have ever received. We should rejoice in the mercy of God in the fact that we are still breathing, repent of sin, and find mercy and lasting grace in him.
How different would things be for us, Christians, if we stopped demanding answers and instead fell on grace? How different, how much more godly would we be, if we simply refused to think that we have the right to judge whether or not God’s actions are OK. The Lord always does rightly, whether we understand it or not. And the pains of this life are reminders that we need the mercy of God if we are to survive in the now and in eternity.