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Why Doesn't God Do More?

 

Hand of God

by Dennis Pollock

A classic theological debate has to do with how a good and loving God could allow so much misery, pain, and suffering in our world. Many wonder why God doesn’t do more to alleviate suffering, and to promote happiness and well-being. If God is good, this must surely mean that His desire for us is good. He clearly should want to see the men and women He has created to be happy and doing well in life. Surely, He must take no pleasure in seeing us depressed, lonely, or in terrible emotional or physical pain.  And if He truly doesn’t like to see us unhappy, and He is all-powerful with the ability to change things at His will, why doesn’t He just do something about all the world’s miseries? He who created the galaxies and the planets could surely alleviate our individual and personal sufferings and struggles!

Instead of allowing mass shootings, He could just give the shooter a neat little heart attack before he ever approaches his intended victims. That man intent on leaving his wife could have a terrifying dream that would make his hair stand on end and drive him straight back to his wife.

Yet in these and so many other tragic situations, God seems to watch quietly and allow the natural course of things to take place. We know that He can intervene, and He sometimes does intervene, but not nearly as often as we wish He might. And that brings us to the question: “Why doesn’t God do more?” Some have suggested that God cannot possibly be all-loving and all-powerful, or He surely would bring an end to all suffering. Either His omnipotence or His compassion must not be quite what we have supposed it to be.

The Bible affirms however, and we evangelicals accept that God is both all-powerful as well as all-loving. Neither His might nor His compassion are deficient. As for His power, we read in the book of Daniel:

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”  (Daniel 4:34,35)

And Jesus tells us that not even a sparrow can fall to the ground and die apart from the Father’s will. No question about it: if you choose to believe the Bible, you must accept the complete and absolute sovereignty of God over all His creation. God does what He pleases, when He pleases, without any straining and without ever asking anyone’s permission. And this means that He could in a heartbeat, if He chose, remove that struggle, that difficulty, that situation that is driving you crazy.

 

God’s Preferences

As for His love and compassion, the Scriptures are equally emphatic about this. The Bible tells us: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Because God is love, we would assume that He prefers us happy rather than miserable, comfortable rather than in pain, secure rather than terrified, well-fed rather than starving, and fulfilled rather than disappointed. Most of all, since God is love, we would expect that God would prefer that we repent, believe on His Son Jesus Christ, and live eternally with Him rather than to continue on in unbelief, and perish in the darkness and misery of hell. The Bible indicates that this is indeed the case.

Jesus tells us that just as no earthly father would give a snake to a son who asks for a bite of fish, so the Heavenly Father will give good gifts to those who ask Him. And in Ezekiel God commands the rebellious Israelites to repent, saying, “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies. Therefore, turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32).

Why Not More?

Having established from the Scriptures that God is both all-powerful and all-loving, let’s get back to the question: “Why doesn’t God do more – more to alleviate pain, more to end racism, more to stop mass killings, more to put an end to cancer, more to relieve depression, more to help victims of the sex trade, more to prevent the abuse of children, more to cause huge numbers of people to turn to Jesus, more to hold marriages together, more to help families to live in harmony… Why doesn’t He just do more?

We have talked about God’s love and His power, but there is another attribute of God which few people who debate this question ever consider – God’s wisdom. Most people affirm that God is able to do anything and everything, but in one sense that is not exactly true. His perfect wisdom limits Him and causes Him to act in a very prescribed way.

A fool has far more options than a wise man. Let’s consider two men who work at the same company. They are both making about the same salary and living fairly comfortably. They are both married and have three children. One day a thought arises in both their minds: “Wouldn’t it be neat to quit this job, leave my family, buy a motorcycle, and ride across America, going from place to place, having all sorts of fun adventures, and seeing places I have never seen before?” Then they have another idea: “Or I could leave here, go to Hollywood and audition for the lead role in the latest blockbuster movie being produced. I could be rich and famous in no time!” So they have before them three options: 1) Continue working at their present job and support their family, 2) Quit their job, leave their family, and travel across America on a motorcycle, or 3) Quit their job, move to Hollywood, and try to become the next Hollywood heartthrob.

For the wise man, the latter two options are rejected immediately. He has responsibilities, and he wisely recognizes that the price he would pay for such adventures would be far too steep. But the foolish man doesn’t consider these things. His mind becomes filled with fantasies about the glorious life he could have, contrasted with the dull life he is now living. Over the next weeks he mulls over his options until he finally turns in his notice and heads to the motorcycle shop to find just the right bike to implement his plan.

The wiser we are, the less options we allow ourselves. Wise men and women always steer toward wise choices, and since there are infinitely more foolish things we could do than wise ones, a wise person’s choices are quite limited.

God’s Wisdom and Choices

God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, is perfect wisdom. He always chooses exactly the wisest, most prudent, and best plans for our world and for each of us individually. This means that what He does for us, what He does not do, and when He delays moving as quickly as we would like, all of this springs out of the wellspring of His perfect wisdom as well as His great love. We know that God wants people saved, in fact He wants everybody saved and trusting in Jesus Christ. Yet it is evident that everyone is not saved.

In fact, Jesus tells us: “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). We might ask, “Well, why doesn’t God do more about that?” Why does not God pour out His Spirit in greater measure upon more churches and pastors, and move with such astonishing power that all of the world would turn to Jesus in one great mass revival? Why does God allow pastors to get up and stumble and struggle as they preach and touch so few lives? Why not anoint every single preacher of the gospel with so much power that not one sinner could ever hear them without repenting and being saved? Why are there so many small churches in the world which only see one or two conversions in an entire year? Why not move in such power that every church becomes a megachurch?

Why doesn’t God do more miracles, and make them more public and undeniable? Why not raise a dead person on national television after some believer prays over their dead body? We know He could do this, and that He does do miracles, but we wish He would do more, and do it in a more dramatic way, until no one could question His existence or power ever again.

The answer to these and thousands of other questions we could raise is found in the simple truth of the wisdom of God. Because God is love, He wants to intervene in our lives for good. Because He is omnipotent, He is able to intervene. But because He is wise, He “plays by certain rules” which govern the measure and nature of His interventions. What this means is that God is doing as much in your life and as much for your good as He wisely can. If His wisdom would allow Him to do one more thing for you, in you, or through you than He is presently doing He would surely do it.

Waiting on Us

In some cases, the reasons He doesn’t do more for us has everything to do with us. For example, the Bible tells us, “You have not because you ask not.” There may be all sorts of blessings that God is entirely willing to give but doesn’t release them because we just assumed that His blessings were automatic, and we didn’t need to ask Him for them. Faith is another requirement. We are expected to trust God for things, to confess His promises, and to stand firm in faith until the answer to our prayers appears. Yet many Christians simply throw up prayers like throwing out a fishing line. Maybe He will bite; maybe not.

There may be situations where God’s love for us overrules our requests. We may be asking for something which will eventually hurt us, and He wisely withholds the answer. Or in some cases, there may be a need for us to become more mature in Christ before we are able to safely handle the blessing, and rather than us waiting on God, in truth He is waiting on us to grow up a little bit spiritually. When we reach the level where the blessing we seek can truly do us good, it will be gladly released.

Some of these are not so difficult to grasp, but there are a great many mysteries in this area that we will never understand this side of heaven. Why did God do this; why did He allow that; why didn’t He stop this? There are three things we must understand: 1) God is powerful, 2) God is good, and 3) God is wise.

Some wonder why God doesn’t use them more in ministering to others. Why do some individuals convert tens of thousands or even millions of people to Christ over their lifetimes, while others reach only a few? Why do some pastors preach to millions over television every week, while others preach to 35 people? It doesn’t mean that one is more spiritual or walks closer to Jesus than the other. God gives His gifts and His grace in our lives as He pleases, and according to His perfect wisdom. And whether you are “soil” which produces fruit thirty-fold, sixty-fold, or a hundred-fold, the important thing is that you are bearing fruit and living in compliance with the Heavenly vinedresser.

All Things Possible

Shortly before Jesus was to go to the cross He had a long prayer session with His Father. In His humanity He asked if the cup might be removed from Him, beginning His prayer with, “Abba, Father. All things are possible with You…” But it was not possible for Jesus to be spared the agony of the cross. If God was to be just and the One who justifies ungodly sinners like you and me, Jesus was going to have to be crucified on the hill called Golgotha. God’s perfect wisdom demanded it and would allow no other options.

Our Lord Jesus embraced God’s wisdom that demanded He walk down the path of the Via Dolorosa, carrying His cross.  As those cruel nails pierced His hands and feet, it was the greatest demonstration the world has ever seen of the love of God – and the wisdom of God. He was resurrected three days later and given authority over heaven and earth, and He now offers eternal life to all who will believe. God knew best – He always does.


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