Our hearts were broken on Valentine’s Day 2018 when Nikolas Cruz opened fire on Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 teachers and students.
Any tragedy such as this one causes people to ask, “If there is a good and powerful God, then why is there so much evil and suffering in our world?” How should we respond to this difficult question?
God Created Humans with Free Will
When God created the first humans, and placed them in the Garden of Eden, He said to them, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
Adam and Eve, the first humans, were given a choice—eat of the forbidden tree and die, or do not eat from it, and live. God did not force them to make their decision. God created humans as free agents, that is, free to decide whether to choose wisely or to choose poorly.
Much of the evil and suffering in our world is due to the disobedient, unwise, and poor choices of people.
We Aren’t Robots
Think about it! If God created us as robots, then there would be no freedom to choose. We could not choose to educate ourselves, improve ourselves, beautify ourselves, nor pursue our goals and dreams. Thus, our lives would have no significance. We would be no more than programmed machines.
Sadly, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and they did eat from the forbidden tree. What they did the Bible calls “sin.” Did God know in advance they would make this poor choice? Yes! God is omniscient meaning he sees and knows everything.
But here is the good news. God in His omniscience saw ahead of time and knew that all of us would fail and fall and need Him. He wanted us to be able to choose Him and His ways. He gave us a free will so that we could choose to be in relationship with Him and to do what pleases Him.
God Has a Plan
Best of all, God provided the way that this could happen. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to become a human being who endured all the temptations, suffering, pain, discomfort, agony, and trials that every human being goes through. The difference? Jesus never sinned. That is, He never made a bad choice.
This fact qualified Jesus to be our Savior. On the cross, Jesus died for us. On that cross He took upon Himself the punishment for our sin that we deserve. We can be forgiven for all the times we did not choose God’s way. Isn’t that good news?
How? By trusting (placing our faith in) what Jesus did on that cross. Out of deep appreciation for what Jesus did for us on the cross, we live with Him at the center of our lives. We want Jesus to guide and direct every happening and choice of our lives.
The Blessing of Time
One day, says the Bible, God will wipe away all tears from our eyes (see Revelation 21:4). All evil and suffering will be removed. Until then, even the best of God’s people wail, “How long, O Lord” (Revelation 6:10). We lament.
When we read and hear of horrific events like the one at Stoneman Douglas High School, we cry, we feel sad, and we express our grief and shock. We express what we are feeling deep within our souls by lamenting to God, “Lord, how long?” “Lord, why?” “Lord, when?” And as we lament, we trust that God cares, and that the day is coming when there will be no more evil and suffering. And, that’s hopeful!