Right now, there is a long and growing list of what I would like God to stop: the war in Ukraine, the division of our country along political lines, gun violence, a burning sensation I have in my feet, Covid, etc., etc. Most of these things we can do little to stop, so we question why God does not stop it. If a person is especially fragile in their understanding and belief in God, they may even conclude that the troubles of this world are proof positive that God doesn’t exist. We are up against it alone. This can lead to a devasting sense of hopelessness and of the pointlessness of life. No wonder we have a suicide epidemic to boot.
Understanding the Bible’s explanation for why the world is the way it is, what can be done about it, what possibly won’t be done about it, and what definitely will be done about it is important to know. The resulting worldview makes you strong.
It starts with understanding human sin. What is “sin” anyway? We can identify things that are sinful before God by looking at the different laws God has expressed to humans. That doesn’t help us understand why those laws are broken so frequently. Most of the law is found within your conscience anyway. Sin is behavior, thoughts, motives that haven’t originated from God. They tend to be selfish and destructive. They feel like rebellion and seeking independence from God. Our tendency toward sin is called a “nature” by the Bible. It even says we are sinful from conception. That means it is something genetic to me.
The human creature creates plenty of its own problems by acting sinfully. If you sort through your own problems, you will find situations you created yourself and now you are experiencing the results. In fact, sin can have immediate, negative results and even eternal negative results. The hopeful news is that through Jesus there is forgiveness from God for our sin and often there can be forgiveness from others and forgiveness of yourself. I know that God is slow to punish, so often He will spare us from the worst of the immediate results. So, actually, things could be worse here.
Next there can be suffering caused by the sins of others. A mass shooting, like the one in Uvalde, Texas, is an example of this. If we are victimized by crime, war, cruelty, irresponsibility of others, this is the product of sin in others. Sin can network to create ugliness like racism or war. Since the original humans let sin into the gene pool, there is no promise that God will exempt you from the sins of others. That said, I think God does intervene and protect us from more that we realize. I also know that Satan intervenes to stimulate and sustain sinful action. Conscience or fear of consequences would damp out many sinful impulses, but Satan finds ways to stoke the fire.
Here are some recent examples that I suspect Satanic or demonic involvement. In the shooting in Buffalo, a young man’s sinful nature with perhaps some scars from his development left him open to poisonous ideas from the internet. Those ideas were all posted by people. But they in turn were twisted by Satan. The kid could have dismissed any of those ideas, but Satan helped to cultivate them and bring them into violent action. Now the wounds of this crime, if not dealt with properly, create the seeds for evil of its own.
The same with a kid who just randomly commits suicide. Nobody sees it coming. Even in retrospect there were not sufficient signs or causes to explain suicide. There was just opening enough, due to sinful nature, for Satan to plant the seed and rapidly grow it. Is there a defense against such a thing? A strong sense of being loved by God and family. A strong sense of God-given purpose. These are the best. But it can still happen.
If God does intervene, can’t we get Him to intervene more? Prayer does matter. Even if we can’t anticipate our needs. Still, we need to understand that this life is going to have troubles. There will be an abundance of ugliness. God will only finally fix things post-Judgment Day.
The other element making things bad is what the Bible calls “the curse”. God himself can bring punishment on people and people groups. He is very slow to do so. I will admit that I sometimes think that God should bring down the hammer sooner. People might understand better. “The curse” isn’t referring to God bringing his wrath. It refers to almost the opposite. It is God letting things run naturally without forcing them in line. Creation, left alone, will get out-of-sync; and, to an extent, God will let it. Covid, all illness, genetic defects, natural disasters, and other things are the curse. Problems such as these are normal and arbitrary under the curse.
We won’t stop sin and the curse. I don’t expect to completely neutralize the power of Satan. Still, we can make the world better in the short run. We can, with the help of God, minimize our sinful nature, show love to people, stabilize people who are getting out-of-control, confess our sins, forgive others, pray, meet needs. All of this makes the world incrementally better.
Then for what will happen. God will eventually bring this damaged version of the world to a conclusion. Satan, sinful nature, and the curse will be gone. The world will then be as we want it to be now. We can have a place in that world as a gift of God to us. Jesus’ life, death on the cross, and resurrection made this possible. Being connected to Jesus through faith in His actions and promise and being baptized in His name gives that place to you.
When you know where you are going and why, you can better handle the mess that life can be now. You are even empowered to make a difference. It still gets tiring and even discouraging, but God’s presence in your life and the support of other Christians keeps you going. Eventually, we will arrive where God doesn’t need to stop anything anymore.