Why is there so much tragedy in the world today? Between terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and even personal tragedies like a loved one being diagnosed with a terminal cancer, we seem to regularly face adversity and tragedy. You cannot turn on the news without hearing about a tragic murder or some pedophile who taunts society with their ability to get away with what they do. So much evil and tragedy in our world has an even worse side effect. It causes people to question where God is, and they end up being fearful.
It is a shame when people have to be concerned about their children playing in front of their own homes because they don’t know who is watching. This mentality causes people to have their kids play inside and shut out the rest of the world. This fear of what is happening in the world around us is resulting in a society that is very individualistic, and has little sense of community.
First let’s deal with this reaction of questioning where God is at in all of this. When tragedy strikes it is easy to question God, and ask questions like, “if God loves me, then how could He let this happen to me?” or “couldn’t God stop that terrorist from flying that plane into that building?’.
The truth is that the God that created the universe certainly could stop someone from doing something evil. He could also stop something that could shorten your life from ever taking root in your body. But much of what we consider tragic is often the result of human choices. The terrorist is also a God-created, human being who is making a choice to give in to his hate for other people. Even many medical conditions are the result of human decisions as well. For example, the rise in Diabetes (my own son is a Type 1 Diabetic) is likely the result of generations of poor eating habits (this is my opinion, not a medical fact). The bottom line is that we are allowed to make decisions on our own, and we must live with the consequences.
But, what about the people that do evil things? Can’t God stop them? If He did, then it would require the removal of their free will. God has given each of us a free will. Why? Our love means more to Him if it is something that we choose to do than something that we are forced to do. This free will is an incredible gift, but also a great responsibility. We all, and this includes the terrorist, get to decide our own fates. If God were to take away the free will of the terrorist, then He’d have to take away your free will as well, and that is not the type of humanity that He desired.
So, evil and tragedy exists, and short of removing our free will, there is nothing that God can do to change that. Because that doesn’t change anything about the world that we live in, then how do we deal with this whole fear issue? I believe that there are three things in particular that we can all do to deal with this whole issue of living in fear…
Think – God gave us brains and tells us to use them. So the first thing that we need to do is to be smart about what we do. Don’t put yourself into compromising situations. Use wisdom to help you discern what is okay and not okay. But more than that use your mind to find creative solutions. Are you worried about your kids playing in the street in front of your house? Then get to know your neighbors by having a block party. The point is to be smart about how you respond to the world.
Change – We are commanded to “fear not.” So living in fear is a sin, and if you live in fear you should repent. Just remember that repentance is not as much about being sorry for what you did as it is about changing your behavior.
Hope – Christians need to think more long-term. We have a hope and a future. We may have to experience tragedy while we are here in this life, but we have something greater to look forward to.
So may you have the peace that surpasses all understanding, and overcome the fearful life. Embrace life, engage the world, and through your example be a great witness for Him.
Note: Written for weekly writing contest (fearful) at www.faithwriters.com.
Update on 12/29/08: book review: for these tough times (max lucado)