It’s not uncommon for someone to point to difficulty or loss in their lives and conclude either God does not exist or that he is not loving. The adversity can be massive, or just another daily burden.
- A manager in his fifties loses his job through no fault of his own.
- A nine-year-old girl is diagnosed with leukemia.
- A car transmission dies a month after the warranty expires.
- A single college daughter becomes pregnant.
- A life-long female friend moves to Atlanta, creating a huge hole in her neighbor’s life.
- A hard-working young father is disabled by a drunk driver.
- A young husband has little free time working for a company that demands 60+ hours per week.
- A computer with critical homework crashes just before final projects are due.
When adversity or challenge touches our lives in these and other ways, it’s easy to question either the reality of God or to challenge the notion that he is loving. We presume that if we were a divine sovereign, we would not permit such things to happen to someone we claim to love.
We know parents who go to any length to shield their children from adversity. Some run frequent interference for their children. They rush to the school when their son or daughter is accused of doing something wrong. They pump money into a bank account that’s beyond depleted. They replace wrecked cars. They cover unexpected college expenses. They parent out-of-wedlock children. They dip into their retirement income to compensate for needs. The assumption often is that God should love in a similar way. If he doesn’t he must not care.
This kind of thinking assumes that we know what divine love ought to be like. It presumes that we have precise knowledge of what the standard is, what the goals are, and how the outcome of doing things our way is better than what we see God doing in the moment. But in doing so we look at our finite view of an individual’s life and conclude that we know best about what circumstances are in their best interest. Since lives are interconnected, it also assumes that we know what is best for everyone linked to the person facing adversity.
This kind of thinking credits us with a depth of understanding that we don’t possess. It’s like expecting a novice chess player to be able to think 50 moves ahead and comprehend all the possibilities in a glance. Sometimes our preferred prescriptions are based on a cursory understanding of what’s really involved.
Another problem with the conclusion that God either does not care or does not exist is that he has given us an objective demonstration that he is kind and compassionate. Romans 5:8 states, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We might wish God had given us a stress-free life, riches, or loving and sacrificial friends and family members instead. But to seek those things only is to close our eyes to the most dangerous loss we can face—permanent alienation from a Holy God. The consequences of our moral rebellion will justly cast us into a godless eternity if there is no divine intervention.
The events of Easter remind us that God sacrificially gave us the opportunity to live forever with him. That’s a supreme act of love that overshadows all the other things we desire but sometimes do not see in life.