El Niño is spawning worldwide destruction…
And God Cried
(2850-2270 BC). "The Lord saw that the wickedness of
humankind was great in the earth… and it grieved Him to His
heart." (Genesis 6:5,6 NRSV) Yes, God cried.
(1096-1100). During the crusades, Christian soldiers enroute to
the Holy Land slaughtered Jews on the way. Some were herded into
their synagogues. Cries of anguish shrilled unto heaven as the
wooden structures were torched. And God cried.
(1941-1945). Six million Jews were hunted, hounded, driven,
butchered, gassed and burned in the Holocaust. And God
(August 6, 1945). A single atomic bomb claimed 129,558 victims
and terrified the world. And God cried.
(1914-1996) Over 175 million were killed as a result of the
insane policies of governments like Germany, Communist Russia,
Cambodia, etc. And God cried.
COUNTRIES (1990s). Each day
40,000 babies die of starvation. And God cries.
Then there are the personal
tragedies of loved ones endured daily by hundreds of thousands—
the senseless death or mutilation on the highways, babies who are
born physically deformed or mentally deficient, and the victims of
senseless crime. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and
other disasters steal the lives of millions in their onslaughts of
destruction and deprivation. The psychological tragedies of
dysfunctional families, drug addiction and the multitudes of
lonely, neurotic homeless people have left tens of thousands of
families emotionally scarred.
And God cries.
Yes, these statistics fill the daily
news, but only when they strike us or our loved ones are we
overwhelmed with the pain of tragedy. Everyday these statistics
have faces—millions of faces of real people shattered
emotionally and mentally. The cries of sickness, sorrow,
suffering, and death encircle the globe. Not one of us can
comprehend the enormity of the total sufferings of all humankind.
Only God can and does see this humongous picture of human
And God continues to cry.
The infinite Creator and God of the
universe wants to convey to mere earthlings—frail humanity—
His compassion and love for us. How can one so omnipotent
communicate His capacity to suffer with finite man? He uses an
imagery we can understand — "tears." Far from being an
indication of weakness, God's imagery of shedding
"tears" assures us of a profound fatherly care and
concern. Just how deep is his fatherly love?
God's dealing with Israel is a
microcosm of his relationship with all humankind (Isaiah 43 &
44; Romans 11). A parent might discipline a child by remanding the
child to his room for the evening. A loving parent feels the pain
of the child's punishment and often recalls the many wonderful
times they shared together. Likewise, it hurts God when he
chastens His people. Listen to the parental sorrow of God in
Jeremiah 6:26: "Thus says the Lord… Oh my poor people,
put on sackcloth,… for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us"
(NRSV). This is incredible. The "us" class is God and
Israel. God puts Himself in the picture of sharing Israel's
suffering. This assures us that God chastens in love. Listen to a
loving father’s thoughts of nostalgia while He is chastening
Israel, a disobedient son:
"Truly, Ephraim [Israel] is
a dear son to Me, A child that is dandled! Whenever I have turned
against him, My thoughts would dwell on him still. That is why My
heart yearns for him; I will receive him back in love. Declares
the LORD." Jeremiah. 31:20 (JPS)
How do we know that God's
expressions of fatherly love – a love that felt Israel's
sufferings during her chastening – were true? The rebirth of the
State of Israel in 1948 is the proof. It is a miracle of history.
Never before has the polity of a nation been destroyed, its people
scattered to the ends of the earth and then regathered nearly
2,000 years later to their ancient homeland to be reborn as a
nation. God's fatherly chastening of love will continue to restore
the Jewish people to full favor and belief. Israel's restoration
is the precursor of all mankind's restoration to God's full love
and favor in His Kingdom. In fact, Romans 11:15 states that Israel’s
restoration to Divine favor will mean life from the dead for the
Oh, what a marvelous God we
have! "In our affliction He is afflicted" (suffers), and
this is our assurance that God's chastenings are rehabilitative so
that His "beloved" wayward children might be restored to
the bosom of His favor. Yes, God chastens to heal! Isaiah 63:9;
Why Does God Permit Evil?
A suffering God puts the
question of the permission of evil in a practical perspective. If
God shares our suffering why would He conceive a plan that would
result in His own suffering? The question is no longer – why do
good people suffer or why do innocent children suffer? Rather, why
has God permitted a horrific human history of blood, tragedy, pain
and mental anguish that would just tear away at His fatherly
emotions of love?
To fully understand why God
permits evil, we must go back, back to when God dwelt alone. God
desired to have a family, to be a parent—the Heavenly Father.
Most loving parents are not overly protective; rather, they are
willing to permit hard knocks realizing it will cost themselves
dearly in pain as they watch their children struggle to maturity.
God knew his children could be
happy individually and collectively only if each one loved and
obeyed God’s laws for the well being of all. Therefore, God
created Adam and Eve in "His own image"— with free
will and moral discernment. God could have programmed the ideal
man — utopia would have been inevitable — but man would be no
better than a robot, without true happiness. But giving man a free
will had a built-in dilemma. God told Adam that if he obeyed he
would live. If he disobeyed he would die—"dying thou shalt
die" (Genesis 2:17). Because of lack of experience God knew
Adam (or anyone of us in the same position) would disobey.
A parent will tell a baby not to
touch the stove because it is hot. But what does a baby know about
pain? Inevitably the baby will touch the stove. A wise parent will
lightly and quickly place the child’s hand where the heat is not
too severe. Likewise, God is giving mankind a controlled
experience with sin.
Knowing Adam would disobey him,
God lovingly planned for man’s redemption BEFORE creating the
earth and man. In 1 Peter 1:19-20 Jesus is spoken of as
"slain before the foundation of the world." This meant a
plan that would deeply grieve His fatherly heart as He watched man
trampled down by the machinations of evil while learning the
consequences of sin. Further, it would cost the ultimate in
fatherly suffering—watching His only begotten son suffer the
agony of being vilified and crucified. God’s gift of Jesus was
the greatest demonstration of fatherly suffering in history.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed, God
withdrew His fellowship. Loneliness, stress, and depression
overwhelmed them rendering both the mind and the body prone to
disease. The dying process began. The latest scientific research
confirms this Biblical account of man’s "fall" into
sin. Fear, hostility and aggression became the norm. Exploitation,
crime and violence were the inevitable consequences. Yes, Adam’s
children, the human race, were born sinners worthy of death (Psalm
51:5; Romans 6:23). This is "the sore travail God hath given
to the sons of man to be exercised therewith" (Ecclesiastes
After Adam and Eve disobeyed,
they were cast out of their Edenic paradise into the unfinished
earth, where the components of nature were yet unbalanced. Man is
learning by experience the bitter consequences of sin and evil.
Remember— the parent who remanded his child to his room for the
evening had loving thoughts of their continued relationship. God
has remanded His human children to their room—the unfinished
earth. In their "affliction He is afflicted" and He has
wonderful loving thoughts—recorded in the Bible prophecies—concerning
their restoration to His favor. Yes, Paul said in 1 Corinthians
15:22, "as in Adam all die" but he continues, "so
in Christ shall all be made alive" in the Kingdom. Why?
Because Jesus died "a ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:6;
A Suffering Savior and Suffering Christians
Before all are made alive in
Christ’s Kingdom, God is training Christians—a "little
flock" (Luke 12:32)—that they might reign with Christ in
his Kingdom as priests and kings (Revelation 20:6). Like Christ,
they are being made sympathetic priests through suffering (2
Timothy 2:11-12. While the minds of men are now scarred and
twisted by tragedy, Christians experience the same disasters but
are healed and made compassionate by the power of the holy Spirit
(1 Cor. 10:13). Why? They will be able to heal the minds of their
fellowmen when men come forth to their probation or trial time in
the Kingdom (John 5:28-29, NAS, NRSV). Mankind will have a vivid
remembrance of the bitter effects of sin and evil. Then they will
learn the joyful rewards of living righteously with their
fellowman and make their choice for eternity (Jeremiah 31, 34).
Many scriptures reveal that the
majority of mankind will share the joys of eternal life. The
foreknowledge of God’s own suffering proves that the permission
of evil is a necessary experience for man’s eternal welfare. God’s
fatherly sorrow contains no anxiety like a human parent. With
Divine serenity, He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah
46:10). All the forces of evil are overruled for man’s eternal
welfare (Psalms 76:10). By faith we can have this same peace of
God (Phil. 4:7). The present sufferings are but a moment compared
with the joys of eternity (2 Cor. 4:17, 18).