"Why did God allow this to happen?" This question is as old as mankind itself. During the recent terror attack in Stockholm an 11-year old girl was literally torn to pieces by the speeding truck that purposely hit people on his way to his final target, the Åhlens department store.
The devastated parents and many others are trying to find an answer to the question, "how could a God of love allow the brutal death of an innocent child?" What would your answer be? The truth is that there is no simple answer, and right now nothing you and I say could possibly take away the pain and turmoil in the hearts of the grieving parents.
However, there are some things to consider as we try to make some sense of that question. It is interesting that a culture that has largely turned its back on its Christian roots, now seeks to blame God for not intervening in times of terror and tragedy. But even for those that claim to have a living faith in God there often are grave misunderstandings in the way God deals with mankind.
Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as mere illusions, Jesus was honest about the inevitability of suffering. In John 16:33 he said, "You will have suffering in this world." He didn't say you might—he said it is going to happen.
The main thing we need to understand is that God is not the creator of suffering and evil! It is not his will that anyone should perish or be lost. The sobering truth is this: God does not always get his will. That is not because he is powerless, weak, or does not care. It is because he gave man a free will to decide if he or she wants to make him boss of their lives. By choosing to live our lives without him we have opened the door for the forces of evil to roam freely in our towns, cities and nations, doing the only thing they can do: To steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10).
Let's be clear about this: I do not say that those who follow God whole-heartedly are automatically protected from all suffering and hardship. Jesus suffered, Paul suffered, pretty much everyone in the Early Church suffered, and millions of Christians today are suffering persecution. But the difference is that if you have put your trust in Him, then you know that all things must work for good in your life, and you have the hope of an eternal peace where he will wipe away all our tears.
Jesus wept when that girl was killed, and the heart of the Father is broken in ways we could never imagine. Only he can give true comfort to the wounded and hurting - if they let him into their hearts.