How Can A Loving God Allow Injustices and Tragedy?
The year 2022 has been emotionally and mentally taxing with tragedies across the nation, including the recent school shooting in Uvalde, TX that claimed 22 total victims. Injustices stemming from politics to human rights seem to go unchecked. But is this really the case? Does crime and sin really go unpunished in a fallen world? Can we trust that there is a loving God that seeks to balance the scale of justice who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient? We'll examine God's attributes, sin, injustices and tragedy below.
Deficient Roots: Sin and Its Consuming Nature
Genesis 3 marks the introduction of sin into the natural and spiritual worlds due to choices of Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Eden and allow themselves to be consumed by their temptation to be like God by the Tempter, Satan. However, simply saying "evil exists because of Adam and Eve's choice to sin" doesn't answer the question of "how can a loving God allow injustices and tragedy?". The previous response falls short for a few reasons: a) it doesn't explain what sin is, b) it doesn't examine the attributes of God, c) it doesn't justify why God created humans if He knew they would fall, d) it fails to examine why God created angels if He knew that some would turn against Him and be cast down from Heaven.
Understanding deficient roots is tied to the beginning, Genesis, and creation. Up until Genesis 3, all of creation was good and God acknowledged it as such.
However, I'll debate that sin existed prior to Genesis 3. Here's why. God is perfect and omniscient. Completely and unwaveringly holy. He knows and sees all. He created and formed all things, including sin. He created both so there would be room for true love and the conscious choosing of obedience to Himself instead of just a rigorous religious system.
When He told Adam and Eve to not eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for they would die, He meant it. Both spiritually and physically.
"Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and tend it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may freely eat; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:15-17, NASB).
Understanding this complex relationship between the spirit, body, soul, and mind can be done with psychology. The soul is intermingled with the spirit, and is housed in the body, encapsulated in the mind (more specifically, the parietal cortex). The soul is made up of thought, reason, and choice. The spirit gives life and has life breathed into it.
"Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living person" (Genesis 2:7, NASB).
When God instructed Adam and Eve to not eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, He knew that man would gain a knowledge of evil and commit evil. Injustices and tragedy would also enter the world. Prior to the fruit being devoured, mankind only had knowledge of good and had a perfect fellowship and union with God.
In Genesis 3, it's revealed that Satan was in the Garden. An investigative timeline would place Satan's fall from Heaven before or at Genesis 3. Satan is the embodiment of evil, the very representation of knowledge that would cause separation from God. One plausible reason why God allowed Adam and Eve to be exposed to Satan is an expression of fatherly love to show His children a nature that is combative to His own so they would know they needed protection and to give them the choice to obey and run back to Him. Therefore, sin is anything in opposition to God and His holy commandments. It deteriorates, corrupts, consumes, separates, and plagues. We need to remember that Satan is also God's devil. He is His creation. Since Satan and evil exists, God must have a plan for them. The two most common questions here remain: why did God create mankind if they would choose evil and why did God create angels if they would fall?
The Attributes of a Holy God: Why Mankind and Angels Were Created
For God to be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, He had to have a knowledge of both good and evil with power over it. He created evil, yet it did not enter into the world until Genesis 3. Death is the punishment for sin and the world and mankind were not afflicted by it until after the fruit was eaten. It was then that everything began to die, being biologically changed. Sin caused both outward and inward decay. Yet, God still remains in control.
Holy Love: Unlike angels, mankind was created in the image of God, out of holy love within the trinity. Mankind was made to serve God, delighting in His presence, with the original creation motive never to be separated from Him. We were meant to be His ambassadors for eternity.
Omnipotence: Angels were made to serve God in the spiritual realm for eternity, conducting different tasks, organized within an angelic hierarchy similar to military rank structure. When some angels fell, there was no option of redemption since they are spiritual beings and are willed by their spirit. They either conduct evil or good, perfectly. God's all-powerful nature issued out their demise and sentenced them to an eternity of isolation away from Him.
So David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and on the earth; Yours is the dominion, Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name" (1 Chronicles 29:10, NASB).
The Lord puts to death and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and brings up. The Lord makes poor and rich; He humbles, He also exalts. He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the garbage heap to seat them with nobles, and He gives them a seat of honor as an inheritance; For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He set the world on them" (1 Samuel 2:6-8, NASB).
Omniscience and Self-Revelation: Upon creation of both mankind and angels, God knew both had the capacity to fall since He created them all to have a will. There is moral, natural, and supernatural evil, all of which God has a plan for. He rules over all of creation.
"All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account, but He does according to His will among the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can fend off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’" (Daniel 4:35, NASB).
"See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can save anyone from My hand" (Deuteronomy 3:32-39, NASB).
But the Lord said to him (Moses), “Who has made the human mouth? Or who makes anyone unable to speak or deaf, or able to see or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" (Exodus 4:11, NASB).
Tragedy and Injustices Existent as Part of a Fallen World: The Tragedy of the Uvalde Massacre
Tragedy and injustices exist as a byproduct of sin, a part of a fallen world that rejected God as the sovereign Ruler and Savior. As a result, we live with death, sorrow, grief, and moral corruption that can be seen and experienced on a vast scale. The tragedy of the Uvalde Massacre that left 19 children and 2 adults torn apart in the aftermath of the AR-15 rounds is a vivid reminder of how creation is groaning for the return of its rightful King. All tragedy and injustices are used by God sinlessly and God brings restoration after each, yet it's beyond human understanding why each occurs.
Nihilism is a philosophical doctrine that denies values including the value of life, people, and objects and is rooted in epistemological skepticism and terrorism. People with this worldview are more likely to lean towards religious systems that emphasize mass terrorism and destruction as well as develop psychopathic tendencies. We'll discuss this more in our next article.
I speak empathetically to the families of lost ones and to the coroners who are forever changed after this tragedy, especially since the very system that exists to safeguard life and law was faulty in the handling of this shooting, and it can be difficult in times like these to understand that God is loving. The survivors will need abundant prayer, patience, and couneling care to help cope with grief and life without their loved ones.
There is a glimmer of hope in the Uvalde massacre, apart from the pain, grief, and sorrow. The children who died are with God, never to be separated from His hand and will never experience pain again. And if the adults killed belonged to God, they, too, will never again experience pain. God will also bring justice upon those whose feet are quick to shed innocent blood.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image" (Genesis 9:6, ESV)
"There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers" (Proverbs 6:16-19, ESV)
". . . but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6, ESV).
"But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” So David got up from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and when he asked, they served him food, and he ate.
Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you got up and ate food.” And he said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I am going to him, but he will not return to me'" (2 Samuel 12:19-23, NASB).
My plea for the surviving family and friends would be to look to God for healing and restoration as only He can give it. Don't be afraid to reach out to a trusted counselor, friend, pastor, or other mentor for the dark days ahead. Do not let yourselves be consumed by grief and sorrow as it only leads to the grave. Let King David's example ruminate through your minds and hold fast to God. Our prayers and condolences are with you and your families.
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