All of these questions ultimately lead to the issue: “Why does God permit such evil to exist in the world?”
This question has plagued prophets, kings, philosophers, teachers, preachers and pundits alike. More than 2,600 years ago the prophet Habakkuk leveled this very complaint against God. He cried out, “Why do you idly look at traitors and are silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13). Centuries before Habakkuk, a man named Job cried out to God asking a similar question: “Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them” (Job 21:7-9).
The prophet Habakkuk sought an answer to his question about the fairness and goodness of God in the presence of unthinkable evil, suffering and injustice. The answer that he found is the same answer that we still find today: God is Sovereign and is at work in human history to accomplish His plan (Jeremiah 29:11). And, in spite of what may suggest the contrary, His ultimate good will triumph.
Like Job, Habakkuk discovered that God is neither indifferent nor insensitive. He is neither apathetic nor absent. In the midst of the worst catastrophe, God is present. He is at work for the good of His children, and He is full of compassion to comfort them in the midst of their tears.
Though neither Job nor Habakkuk had all of their questions answered, they found an unassailable comfort and hope in the midst of their most unimaginable suffering. They discovered the sovereignty of God even in the face of tragedy. This is why we do not lose hope: God’s goodness, justice and righteousness will ultimately prevail even when our circumstances appear to be hopeless!
This side of eternity, we will never know the answers to all of our “whys.” We can and do know that God is at work, even in the midst of a tragedy. Like Habakkuk, we can declare:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”
“Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
1 Peter 4:19