“Why would God allow children to die?”
“How could He let innocent people suffer?”
“Why does evil run rampant over those who have done nothing wrong?”
Questions like these frequent the lips of those who were once was a faithful followers of Christ yet today live in doubt. Most often the queries aren’t intellectual objections to faith, but ones born out of deep emotional pain and loss. Uncertainty echoes in an aching soul until the only logical conclusion seems to be to reject belief in a Sovereign Loving Creator God. But that’s not the case for all people. History reverberates with the stories of believers who endured indescribable suffering, heartache and pain, yet persisted in stalwart trust in the Jesus regardless of what their circumstances on earth looked like. (Heb. 11:32-40)
Consider Job’s declaration in chapter 13. “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” (13:15) How could any man who lost ten children in a single catastrophic event, watched the fruit of a lifetime of work be carried off by thieves, suffered painful sores and the complete loss of his physical vitality, and endured the ridicule and disdain of his closest friends have declared that his trust was still in a God who allowed such tragedies? (1:13-19; 2:7-8) The answer to that perplexing question rests in Job’s devoted heart. The Scriptures describe him as one who “feared God and shunned evil” and regularly honored the Lord by offering sacrifices on behalf of others. (1:1, 5) His lifestyle of obedient faith made him rare among the people of his time (or ours) and established under him a solid foundation which wasn’t the flimsy base blessing and prosperity, but on the granite of God’s character.
Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builders clarified the truth that Job’s life demonstrated and forged an inseparable link between obedience and our ability to survive -and even thrive- during calamity. (Matt. 7:24-27) In this straightforward story, we learn that simple knowledge and information aren’t enough to give us the strength to weather disaster. Instead, Jesus told His followers that only those who hear His words and put “them into practice” will stand strong through the storms of life. (vs 24)
Enduring tragedy without losing faith in God is wholly dependent on the strength of our relationship with Him, and according to Christ’s words later in the Gospel of John, there is also a conditional association between follow-through and depth of relationship. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21)
While many people boast of belief in God when the sun is shining, true submission to His instruction is the clearest and most tangible way of demonstrating depth of our conviction, even, and perhaps especially, when circumstances blind our ability to understand. (Heb 11:1; 2 Cor. 5:7) The overflow of submitting to the Lord results in a deeper relationship with Him. It’s this intimacy and personal experience with Jesus that enables us to flourish even when the rains come.