Okay, I can deal with the fact that we suffer the consequences for our mistakes. I can also deal with the fact that the Lord disciplines us for our good. But this - this is too much!
Does this sound familiar? What in the world did those kids in Jonesboro, or at Columbine do to deserve that? What did all those people who went to work September 11 last year in Manhattan do to warrant what happened to them? What about those faithful Christians in other parts of the world who are being tortured, whose families are ripped apart, who suffer daily because of their faith in God. Indeed, the same could even be said for Job. In Job 1, we can see that it was Job's uprightness that led to the events that shattered his life.
It is easy to talk about this question on an intellectual level. We can find answers that seem to fit. However, it is not unusual for those answers to not quite be enough when an extreme tragedy disrupts your life. How do you respond? The following story illustrates an answer to this question.
Several years ago, a faithful and upright young couple lost their only child in a senseless accident. In anguish they asked why? How could God allow such a thing to happen? Why didn't he stop it? They asked the preacher. He said it was God's will. They then asked an elder. He said that it was a bad tragedy. They talked to their Bible class teacher. He said that God needed their son, so he took him. They asked a theologian from a nearby theological school. He explained to them at some length that God can use every event in a person's life for good. He even cited numerous scriptures. None of these answers seemed adequate. Surely someone had an answer. In a last ditch effort, they asked an aging widow in the congregation why this happened. She simply took those two young people into her arms, and they all cried together.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15)."
Job's friends came to sit with him and comfort him. It wasn't until they opened their mouth in chapter four that things began to go downhill. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply weep with those who weep, and realize we do not have the complete picture.