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Can you trust God when bad things happen?
Why God allows evil is an important question. But a better question is: What attitude should I have when I encounter evil? I love Habakkuk’s attitude. Despite what is happening, he expresses an unwavering faith in God.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,Habakkuk 3:17-19
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
There is a lot of disturbing happenings going on in our world right now. Following are my thoughts on how to hold onto faith when bad things happen.
Even for those of us not directly affected by the recent Dayton / El Paso / Gilroy shootings, we all may feel anxious. How can I cope with feeling like this is going to happen to me?
From a faith perspective, ultimately God is in control. There is little we can control (apart from having God’s help). Someone could play it completely safe by staying home, but then their house could catch fire. Difficult and even horrible events can and will happen. We cope by trusting in God’s long-term plan. A near-sighted look at a tragedy will bring anxiety and despair
What are the best strategies for coping? Should I turn off the news?
If someone is easily upset by the news and would become desperate then yes, they shouldn’t watch it until they can better put it into perspective. The chances of dying in a tragedy are minimal. Life is short. Do we want to spend it worrying about what might happen? If we do, this probably reveals that we place too much importance on what happens in this life.
Productive coping will move someone to positive action, not leave them trapped in anxiety or despair. Coping is always a temporary measure until the solution is available.
How can Christians make sense of senseless violence? Why would God let this happen? What comfort can you offer me?
To fully cope with evil requires a worldview shift. Jesus said to expect violence and difficulties. Even though it is heartbreaking, we shouldn’t be surprised. Evil exists. People can be easily influenced by evil. There is a reason to despair (without God). Life is difficult because everyone suffers to some degree and everyone dies in the end.
In the biggest picture, senseless violence is a wake-up call that life is short. Place your hope in God and the next life He has prepared for those who believe. Until someone reaches a saving faith in Jesus Christ, they are spiritually dead or perhaps I could say asleep. Without a wake up call, no one would seek God.
God allows evil to show the profound contrast between good and evil. In times of senseless violence, choosing goodness, choosing God should be easier. I don’t see a third option. The person who lives a cushy life unaffected by difficulty won’t see the real danger coming. A person dying of cancer needs to know their diagnosis. The comfort I can offer is that God says He will make everything right eventually. In the next life, we won’t have to deal with evil and suffering. But for now we need to realize, “the world is dying of a cancer.”
One step towards healing/coping is to try to find meaning. SandyHook parents advocate for gun control. Survivors may say “I want to be part of the solution to prevent/change what’s at the root of the problem that led to violence.” Will finding meaning like this help me heal?
Even though our ultimate hope must be in God and the next life, God leaves us here to govern the world. We should do that well with all goodness. We should do all we can to push back evil. But the evil we need to be concerned with first is
People need spiritual renewal, hope and truth more than they need gun control. To the
True security only comes
I talk about the idea of good and evil and how knowing your true God-given identity is the antidote to anxiety and despair in my book, To Identity and Beyond.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.