Umpqua valley weeps tonight.
Today we experienced a tragedy that most of us thought could never happen in our little town. Unimagined pain. Lives lost. Families changed forever. A shooting on the campus of our local college.
Two questions will be asked by many people in the next few days.
1) WHY did this happen? Put more bluntly, Why did God let this happen? Couldn’t He stop it. Wouldn’t He stop it? If God is so good and all powerful, then why?
The Bible makes clear throughout the whole two things:
- God IS Good. He IS Love. Every good adjective you can think of applies to Him. it is His very nature to be Good and Loving and Just and Gracious.
- God is power. All power in our world ultimately flows from Him, since it was created by Him.
So WHY does He stand by and watch such evil and tragedy happen? Free Will. When God made mankind, He said. “Let Us make man in Our image”. We understand that to mean we were created first and foremost with the ability and desire to make our own moral choices. We can choose to do good or to do evil. If God were to step in and counteract our choices then we really would have no choice. We would be like little automatons that could only do He wanted. A result of giving us the ability to choose is that there are consequences to our choices, good and bad, direct and indirect. Again if He shielded us from those consequences, then our choices, in effect, become meaningless.
Then WHY did He give us free will? So we could freely choose to love Him. He chose to allow our choices that cause pain and suffering and death to continue so that some could choose to come to Him.
2) What is death? What happens after? Do I just stop existing or is there something else? Some would say death is the end. Finished. Done. Some would say you get to come back for another go round. Some would say we all get absorbed by the eternal everything.
The Bible says that after we die we are caught up into the presence of the most glorious, awesome, beautiful being we could ever (or not even) imagine. There we will have to answer one question. Not ‘how much good did you do?’, or ‘what did you do for others’, or even ‘what did you do for God’.
The question we will have to ask is “Did you love me, did you follow Me, did you do what I asked you to do?”
Our answer to that question determines whether we will spend all eternity with Him, enjoying His presence, or an eternity alone, outside His presence.