When tragedy strikes an individual or a family or even a nation strong emotions are evident. The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, for example, elicited an outpouring of emotions. Or the trial in the United States of the teen-age au pair Louise Woodward. One reaction is to cry out - Are you there, God? why have You let this happen? Could You not have prevented it?
Where, indeed, is God in all our human distress? Is He somehow to blame? It's the old cry, God, why have you made me thus? If I die of lung cancer through life-long smoking it's God's fault for building that pre-disposition into my genes. Or if I develop a tendency to be violent, or over-sexed - certainly it has to be God in the frame.
Now, God certainly is sovereign and He did indeed create mankind. But when He looked at the completed creation He summed up His work as "very good" (Genesis 1:31). So what went wrong?
You may as well ask what happened to the undercarriage of that Airbus at Heathrow. Assuming it was "very good" when it left the factory - what went wrong? An engineer would offer several explanations, and most would be human error - maintenance, pilot or whatever. The same with you and me. Our original parents were genetically perfect and a miracle of biological, social and spiritual engineering. They were handed an instruction manual: "Here's the way you are, and if you want to stay perfect then follow the instructions". [The article What Do You Mean - "Repent"? explains the manual]
But did they follow the instructions? Because they had built-in freewill they tore out of the manual the pages they didn't like. As a result their environment changed and so too their social structure. And their relationship with the "manufacturer". They burned His address. And when life disintegrated they couldn't get in touch. But they still blamed Him (Genesis 3:12)!
A mark of our modern society is the urge to dodge responsibility. No more the stiff upper lip, the courage to face difficulties and to conquer them. So we blame our genes - or our parents or poverty or our environment. Especially, just like our first parents, folk blame God.
A Divine Plan
But God is not remote, He is inside His creation. What separates Him from us is what the Bible calls sin. Sin is simply re- fusing to follow that manual. Anyone who tears down the barriers we have erected will find He is there - loving, compassionate, gracious, merciful and just.
None of us suffers more than a lifetime. Thankfully we are limited to "three score years and ten" or thereabouts. The plan of God is in every generation to select men and women who willingly follow the manual. These He personally trains in His ways so they may, when resurrected from the dead, teach others of their own generation. Through their life experience and their willing submission to Him these "saints" are preparing to reign with Christ.
All mankind will be resurrected from the dead to face a time of judgment. Their present life will be weighed, their future physical life judged according to the Word of God. And they will be judged by those who qualify now.
The Creator is working to a plan. He has allotted mankind six thousand years to demonstrate that life without the manual doesn't work. We are on the brink of self-destruction. Six thousand years of civilization have flowed by - and still we haven't learned the lesson! [Request the free article God's Grand Design which evidences this plan.]
Opportunity For You
Our readers have the chance to learn the lesson. Pick up the Manual (the Bible). Cry out to God to write His instructions into your mind. Choose to act on them. In sum, choose to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ, accepting his awesome sacrifice. A sacrifice that wipes out your past sin and makes possible the spiritual power to become children of God.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 2 No. 1, January/February 1998. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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