On Thursday, Oct. 1, a gunman entered Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, and killed 9 people in classrooms while injuring seven others. According to witnesses, the gunman made students stand up if they identified as a Christian. One of the injured students recalled that the gunman said “Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second” before killing them.
During this situation and in other similar events, such as the shooting of Christians in Charleston, South Carolina, many people questioned where God was in the midst of tragedy.
But God has not abandoned His people nor has He disappeared. He is faithful to His people, even in the midst of tragedy.
Amos 3:6 says, “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?”
An instance of tragedy does not mean that God has lost control.
In a sermon in 2005, John Piper said that “Satan is his most powerful enemy and does much evil in the world, but he must first get God’s permission, and none of his actions is outside God’s governance.”
This does not mean, however, that God is evil. There is His inherent good and perfect will that works all things for His people’s good (Romans 8:28), although we may question and wonder why an event occurs.
Piper said that “the times of greatest human evil have often proved for many to be times when God is most needed and most self-evidently real.”
But why does God allow this evil to occur?
Evil entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Since then, trials and tragedies have given glimpses of sin’s effects on our fallen world. Piper writes, “The natural world is shot through with horrors to wake us from the dreamworld of thinking sin is no big deal.”
And yet in the calamity, we see glimpses of the Gospel and God’s love and mercy as well.
Christian author Lee Strobel wrote that “Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good.”
Through tragedy, Christ can be seen through the testimonies of His people. Tragedy causes people to turn to God for comfort and meaning in events that seem meaningless.
“The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart.” (Psalm 34:18)