God Knows Why You Suffer

Why would a just God allow all the suffering in the world?

A girl is born in a strange land where her parents were exiled following a brutal war that left most of her extended family dead or enslaved. While still a teenager, she is taken away to become the trophy slave-wife of a wealthy foreigner. She soon finds herself in a position to change the course of an empire and to save millions of her people.

A great empire in another era suffers wave after wave of horrific natural disasters. A prophet tells the emperor that if he would only repent of a particularly grievous sin, his people would be spared. The emperor is a proud man and refuses to budge. Millions are impoverished, tens of thousands die by starvation or disease, and the government is in shambles. At any moment in the process the emperor could have repented or the people might have overthrown him and begged God for mercy, but pride is a powerful master.

A child is born blind and his parents die when he is still young. He lives for many years begging alms and often going hungry. One day the Son of God finds him and heals him before a throng of witnesses. He sees for the first time in his life and spends the remainder of his time on earth preaching the gospel, bringing joy and meaning to countless lives.

We often hear doubters ask “If God cares so much, why is there so much suffering in the world?” To the simple minded, it sounds like proof positive that God either doesn’t care or doesn’t exist, but the world is an extraordinarily complex system. There are at least as many reasons why a person might suffer as there are people. One person suffers because he made a bad mistake, another suffers because there is an important lesson he needs to learn, or a wrong he needs to right. Perhaps there is some benefit to come that will overshadow all his pain.

It is even true that we need struggle to grow and thrive. As individuals, nations, and even as a species, we must have a certain amount of pain to drive us to achieve anything worthwhile. Great ideas and great art, usually only come after great struggles. Can you imagine the shallow, narcissistic philosophies of a people who have no serious challenges to overcome? You don’t need to imagine it; you have only to turn on the television.

We cannot possibly fathom all of the connections between people and problems. The only thing we can be certain of is that only the Creator can possibly know the full truth and that the scales will always balance at the end.

God knows each and every one of us. He knows what we need to live and what we need in order to achieve the greatness He sees within us. Don’t hide from pain. Study God’s Word so that you can know love and justice when you see it. Put your trust in Him, knowing that His purposes are everything, while yours are nothing. Then face your challenges head on. Fight injustice, fight cruelty without fear, because when you do what’s right and trust God for the outcome, He will be with you.

A New Purim Tradition for a Free People

George Washington on the right of a free people to own weapons.
George Washington on the right of a free people to own weapons.

In the story told by the Book of Esther, Prime Minister Haman talked the King of Persia into signing and sealing a law allowing the people to kill and plunder all Jews. Queen Esther, unbeknownst to the king, was a Jew. She revealed her identity and exposed Haman as a villain, prompting the king to have him executed and to replace him as Prime Minister with Esther’s uncle Mordechai. The king could not revoke a law that had been sealed with his signet ring, so Mordechai and Esther convinced him to sign a counter-order allowing the Jews to arm and defend themselves. The defense was successful and Mordechai declared the 14th and 15th days of Adar to be an annual holiday.

Read the Book of Esther if you want more details. Don’t be lazy; It isn’t very long.

I want you to notice a few key facts about this story:

1. God used a personally distressing series of events to place Esther in a position of influence where she could help her people.
2. God used Mordechai’s defiance of a lawfully appointed civil authority to destroy that authority and to elevate him to the second highest position in the land.
3. God did not rescue the people by sending the Angel of Death to kill all the first born of Persia. He did not turn the waters to blood or the dust to fleas. He did not send an angelic host to fight for them.
4. God used the political influence of Esther and Mordechai to enable the Jews to arm themselves and kill their enemies.

In the United States of America, the right of all people to arm and defend themselves is enshrined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution. No matter what the historical revisionists claim, it absolutely does not allow Congress or the President or anyone else to restrict who may own weapons nor what type of weapons they may own. The clause concerning “a well-regulated militia” says nothing about “restricted ownership”. It refers only to the regulation (training, organization, command, etc.) of the militia itself, not to the weapons owned by the members of the militia, who were commonly understood and frequently stated to be all able-bodied men.

I want you to know two more things:

1. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the absence of fear.
2. Fear is not preparation for terrible events, but the absence of faith that God will carry us through those events.

What would have happened if the Jews had refused to defend themselves, trusting in God’s protection alone? The story of a man on a rooftop during a flood comes to mind: a rowboat, a motorboat, a helicopter… Surely you’ve heard it before. God gives ultimate victory to the faithful by whatever means he chooses. Sometimes he does so through an overt miracle like a battalion of angels. Sometimes he just gives you a little boost, like better aim.

In honor of Queen Esther, the honorable Mordechai, and the men who risked–and frequently gave–their lives and property so that we could live free, I propose that all free people, especially those who put their faith in the God of Esther, arm themselves and gather with like-minded members of their communities to practice marksmanship and martial skills on or about Purim every year.

The Purim Community Shoot: A new tradition for a free people!
The Purim Community Shoot: A new tradition for a free people!