Pastoral Perspectives

Why God?

You know, I have faith in Jesus but why wouldn’t he take away all these people?” she asked as I was about to finish my dessert. The person who asked the question was an old friend. We happened to cross path one day and so we met to catch up. She was facing some problems with her neighbors, i.e. these people, and her problems only seemed to worsen each time she heeded advice from friends or sought help from relevant authorities. Her question stopped time momentarily as my mind traveled back some fifteen years ago when I was studying in England. A pastor was invited to speak at a Christian gathering and was asked the same question except that these people were not nasty neighbors but those who were out to terrorize others. “Why didn’t God remove these people from the face of earth?” one student asked. So are you also asking the same question? These people may be siblings for some, colleagues or church members for others and perhaps the pastor for some other people. They may not be asking for them to be removed from the face of earth. They are only asking for them to be taken out of family, office or church. Some phrase the question the other way round, i.e. why did God give me so and so as a brother, colleague or pastor? But I suppose they mean the same thing to God, i.e. get these people out of my life!

The pastor back in England gave a short answer and it was good enough for the student. The pastor here gave a long one but it was not good enough for her. Why? I suppose the problem lies not so much with the pastors giving the answers but the ones asking the question. The student back in England asked in order to test the pastor but my friend here asked because she was facing a real problem. So why are you asking your question? Is it to test God or are you also facing some problems with these people? The first would only need you to turn to your Bible for the answer and so having the desire for and faith in God’s Word should help you deal with it. The second would also require time, careand practical help to deal with the problem and so having a pastor, mentor or friend to turn to is helpful. Whichever it is, allow me to share some thoughts in response to the question that is often asked.

So why would God not take these people away? Didn’t the Bible promise that God will judge the wicked and reward the righteous? It is the same as asking why God did not heal so and so from illness but took him away instead. Didn’t the Bible promise that by his stripes we are healed? Well, the Bible does make such bold claims and it will certainly be fulfilled when Jesus returns again. For it is said that there will be no more tears, sorrow and pain when the Lord brings us back to the glorious presence of God in our new resurrected bodies. That’s our reward and that’s when we will be fully healed from all infirmities while these people should no longer be around to torment us anymore. Or if they are still around, well, I honestly believe we will all be rejoicing together instead. So when people ask such questions, they are actually asking for judgment to take place right now and all because they have problem with some other people. And if God were to answer them, Jesus would have returned long ago because the early church had her problems too. But it does not mean that no one will therefore get healed or that these people cannot be taken away at all. It can happen according to God’s good will but sickness and such people will always remain in this world until the Lord returns. So we may pray to God for deliverance but we cannot expect him to remove all these things from the face of a fallen earth by claiming to passages here and there. And would we still want the Lord to return if these things are taken away? That was the short answer the pastor gave back in England and it was enough for the student, for he realized his ignorance of Scriptures.

But let me close with this final thought. When I ask God why he did not take that person away, I am assuming that I am righteous while that person is wicked. And why should I be more righteous? Well, I have faith in Jesus, that’s why! But what if that person also has faith in Jesus and had also asked God to remove me as well? So who is the more righteous one that God should keep? But no one is righteous before God. Worse still, everyone should therefore be cast away from his presence. Yet God demonstrates his love for us in that while we are still unrighteous, Christ died for us. And having been justified by his blood, we shall not be cast away by his wrath. So shouldn’t I be thankful and ought to examine myself first before I make demands to have someone taken away from my family, workplace or church? Or for God’s sake, shouldn’t I also demonstrate my love of God by bearing with that person and learning to cast away my personal wrath of him? Who knows? Everyone else might be asking for me to be removed instead.

Ps Ronnie

March 20, 2011