Jim Denison on Bringing Biblical Help and Hope to Innocent Victims of Suffering

Stories about innocent suffering make the news daily.

Five watercolor paintings attributed to Adolf Hitler failed to sell at auction last weekend, reminding us that the Nazi dictator was a failed artist before inciting the deaths of six million Jews and twelve million other victims in World War II.

Nearly one hundred children have died in Africa from the second-deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history. More than eight hundred people have reported symptoms.

And the appalling report about clergy sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention continues to make news today.

Tragically, no organization is immune to such abuse. The Roman Catholic Church continues to respond to reports of clergy abuse over the last several years. Sexual abuse scandals have rocked the Presbyterian Church USA, the Boy Scouts, gymnastics, swimming, hockey, college football, and political leaders as well.

A study found that nearly five hundred schoolteachers were arrested in 2015 on sexual abuse charges. Shockingly, about 10 percent of children in eighth through eleventh grades were found to have been subjected to some form of sexual abuse by an adult at school (most often a teacher or coach).

Where is God when such tragedies occur?


Job 9 poignantly describes the pain innocent victims feel when God seems to fail them.

Job pictures the omnipotence of the One “who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea . . . who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number” (vv. 8, 10).

But this omnipotent God seems impervious to Job’s cries for help: “If I summoned him and he answered me, I would not believe that he was listening to my voice. For he crushes me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause” (vv. 16-17). In fact, according to Job, “When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent” (v. 23).

This must be how many victims of sexual abuse feel about God.

Job is not the only person in Scripture to complain about innocent suffering: “I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’ As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:9-10). Jesus cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).


How are we to reconcile God’s power with his love? Let’s consider five biblical facts.

One: God does not cause innocent suffering. God is holy (Isaiah 6:3), sinless (1 Peter 2:22), and perfectly just (Deuteronomy 32:4). He does not tempt anyone to evil (James 1:13). Misused free will causes much of the innocent suffering in the world, as when Judas betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:47-50). Disease and natural disasters cause much innocent suffering as well.

Two: God must allow us to misuse our freedom, or we are not truly free. He set before his people “life and death, blessing and curse” and called them to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

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Source: Christian Headlines

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