A friend of mine once confided that he had been a very active and faithful Roman Catholic, up until his experience in the Korean War. While in Korea, he had been on the front line. Waves of Chinese soldiers swarmed toward their positions to overwhelm them. He said that he and his fellow soldiers fired machine guns at them, killing the Chinese in droves. They fired their gun until the barrel got so hot it melted. They would then quickly remove and replace it and continue shooting. After the war, he struggled to believe in God again. The waste of life and the evil of war shocked his faith.
There are many ways that a person can be scandalized by what goes on in this world. A loved-one dies, a prayer seems unanswered, you experience violence or abuse or contract a terminal illness, all of these things we do not expect, even though they are common in the world. We expect our lives to go relatively smoothly. Perhaps we even think that God promises such a thing to us.
But He does not. The Bible tells us that people are corrupted by sin, and are capable to great evil. Beyond that God has cursed the world because of sin, so the physical world will be uncooperative and even dangerous. “In this world, you will have trouble”, Jesus told his disciples. “But take heart for I have overcome the world”.
People who don’t believe in God because of some event, need a biblical context to explain that event. We all need to take seriously the reality and depth of sin and the curse. God does not promise to exempt us, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t mindful of us or that He doesn’t love us. Romans 8:35f makes the point that circumstances are not indicative nor will the separate us from the love of God.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
The implied answer is “no”. Paul then quotes Psalm 44:22, which speaks of how Israel felt in the midst of punishment, “For your sake we face death all day long, we are considered sheep to be slaughtered” Apparently, some were quoting this to describe their situation. Paul says,
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors though him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How can a person believe God loves them, even if their life is terrible? It comes down to what God did for us by sending Jesus to die for us, and how he reaches out to us as individuals to get us to know him and trust him. You may be the vehicle of God reaching out to a scandalized person. God does love them. Great things do await, and God will walk with them through the bad.
Expect evil and trouble in this world. When it comes, run to God rather than away from him.