The Squeezings of my Brain Grapes.
Is God To Blame When Bad Things Happen?

jasminelovesjesus asked you:
When things go wrong in life, like when we face problems, is God to blame for? Is God the cause for the bad situations that happens? I always thought that God isn’t to blame for the death of a family member or the loss of a job and etc. but He does intervene and uses our tribulation for our good and pushes us into a new good direction.

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Jasmine,

You know, usually, when folks are asking if God’s to blame for problems, that question has come up because they’re dealing with some really tough stuff in their lives.  And, if that’s true for you, I’m sorry for it.  Let me know how my wife and I can be praying for you.

You asked if God is to blame when bad things happen.  Well, I suppose that really depends on your definition of “blame”.  The fact is that God could have stopped whatever the thing was, and He didn’t. 

Some people would look at that and say that God is to blame, that his decision to be inactive makes him guilty.  Others would say that God didn’t owe intervention to anyone involved, so, we get what we get, and we have no right to complain.

Both of those views, though, miss the point.  And the point is that, in everything, there is more going on than what we can see, and more than we can fully comprehend.

When I was about five years old, my Mom took my to get my vaccines so I could start school.  And getting a great big needle jabbed in my arm hurt like all get out.  It’s funny to say it, but I can still remember the shock of that moment - that this was a pain unlike anything I had ever experienced. 

Now, you and I can say two things about that situation.  First, my Mom had me get my shots because she loved me.  It needed to happen, and was for my good.  Second, that is slim comfort to a little child who’s mother just allowed a stranger to stab him.

It’s slim comfort because, (a) my arm still hurts, regardless of the reasons, and (b) the idea that there are these tiny creatures so small I can’t even see them and that I have to be protected from them lest I die, and that this terrible man in a white coat is a Doctor who is specially trained in keeping the nasty creatures at bay is beyond the scope of what a 5 year old child really understands.  You might as well have told me, “Mom moves in mysterious ways.”

The thing about suffering is that it only finds its meaning in what comes out of it.  If my shots hadn’t kept me from tetanus and the measles, then that would have been an unbelievably cruel experience.  But, of course, I have lived a measle-free existence, and I am very grateful.

The promise we have as Christians is that God will bring something amazing out of every hard thing we experience.  I bet you know this verse:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

When I was five and got my shots, I cried my eyes out, and I told my Mom that it hurt really bad.  And that is the exact right response.  If you’re going through a rough time, be honest with God.  Cry your eyes out, and tell him that it really hurts.  Don’t hold back on this – let it all out.

And when you’re all cried out, remember that God is with you, that he loves you, and that even this terrible thing is being woven in the tapestry of your good.  And, of course, that knowledge doesn’t make it “all better.”  The pain is still painful.  But it does mean that the pain doesn’t have the last word.  It means that there will come a point – which may be way, way down the road - where we can agree with the Apostle Paul that our troubles were “light and momentary” compared to the amazing good that God has brought out of them.  (2 Cor 4:17)

Stand strong, sis.  The best is yet to come.