It is a very old question: Where is God when bad things happen? How could God allow it? The topic even has a big name – theodicity.
Now, I have read a lot of head answers to the theodicity question. I am sure that topics like free will and the fact that humanity was made in such a way that our actions, good or bad, affect each other plays a role. I have read C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” long ago and found it good.
But this is not just a head question, it is very much a heart question. In my opinion, the apologists who treat this as only an intellectual problem miss the point. Most of their their brainy answers are probably right, but most of the askers are people with broken hearts, asking this from the heart and not the head.
To the head question, my only contribution would be that I think God could have made a world where nothing we do affect other people. Where the story you tell cannot make anyone laugh, where your children don’t need you to feed them, where your smile and your love would never light up anyone’s world. The flip side of a world where nobody could build another up would be that nobody’s abuse, lies or neglect could break anyone down.
Or He could have made a world where our actions, good or bad, affect each other. Only in this kind of world could there be evil, but only here can there be goodness.
At least, that is how I see it. Anything else I can tell on the topic have been said by others before me. Many philosophers even believe that Alvin Plantinga officially answered the question.
And the heart question? That, you wrestle through with God. Cry to the Lord. Tell how you feel. As far as my experience go, you can be honest.
Where is God when there is pain and injustice? One part of the answer is that God is here:
Jesus was God. Jesus showed us what God is like. God participated in our suffering on the cross 2000 years ago, and that still is where God is during suffering.I believe God hurts from our suffering. When He tells us to bear one another’s burdens, He ask us to do what He does.
For some reason, God did not choose to, or logically could not* set up a world where no pain happens. Instead, Jesus showed us how God feel about our pain: He takes it on Himself. He experiences our pain. God bears the burden.
The Bible tells of an adversary who wants to destroy us, who probably is overjoyed about our pain. It also tells us of a God who participated (and participates?) in our pain, but who promises to dry every tear eventually, to be victorious over all the brokenness. The pain will end, says God.
This world would have been unimaginable different if God prevented people from getting hurt. He doesn’t – not His own pain or the pain of others. Despite what my head knows, my heart don’t quite know why. But I know that God is not indifferent to the pain of this world. Even less is He a sadist who is glad about it. Instead, God took the pain on Godself.
And by the big story I heard, that is not the last chapter: Christ, the suffering lamb, became the lion of Judah. The pain and injustice will be beaten, it will be a thing of the past. We hate the middle of the story, but I believe we’ll love the end!
*Logically could not: To suggest that God logically cannot do something is not a denial of omnipotence. Omnipotence means God can do anything (any thing). But God cannot, for example, make a square circle – a square circle is not a thing, but a nonsensical word combination. Perhaps a world where people could make choices, and their choices affect themselves and each other, without any pain ever, is also nonsensical.