How Do We Handle Anger At God For War, Famine, Disease, & Disaster?

Published May 27, 2017 in 

Discussion:

  • The Question boils down to “How can God be All-powerful and all-Good in a world full of death and disaster?”
  • Before we embark on a discussion over such an essential, but also sensitive topic, we need to lay down some ground rules of engagement.
    • We are discussing the moral and logical implications that would come into play if God exists. Therefore, for the purposes of this discussion, we will be working from the assumption that, at least hypothetically, God does exist. Further discussion on the defense of God’s existence is welcome, but will have to happen at another time.
    • Time is limited, and the topic complex, so certain questions that may take the discussion too far outside the intended topic may be tabled for after the allotted time or a later discussion. These questions will not be ignored, however, and will be recorded to ensure they are eventually addressed.
    • This is a discussion, you may not leave with complete conclusions but the object is to equip you with context and a method of approaching such huge questions.
    • This discussion covers sensitive, incredibly personal, and at times life-driving philosophies and world view perspectives. Therefore please keep forefront that no-one is here to offend another with their perspective, even if it wholly disagrees with someone else’s. Be respectful and kind, and listen well. Make a point to watch your tone for condescension.
  • What are some of the big occasions that make us angry at or question God’s existence? (Make a list as a group)
    • The big, senseless tragedies that cause humans to question God can generally be divided into 4 categories:
      • War
      • Natural disaster
      • Disease
      • Personal tragedy
  • We’re going to start with the basics:
    • Sin
    • Free Will
    • God’s Goodness
    • The question of Justice
    • Rules of the Universe
      • Morality/ethics
      • Consequence

Relevant Scriptures:

  • John 9:1-3 (Jesus discusses a birth defect)
    • “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
      ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'”
  • Job 1:1, 5b, 6-12 (Suffering as a test of faith)
    • “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; He feared God and shunned evil.”
    • “…Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of [his children], thinking, ‘perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular custom.”
    • “One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘where have you come from?’ 
      Satan answered the Lord, ‘from roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.’
      The Lord said to Satan, ‘have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’
      ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’
      The Lord said to Satan ‘very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’
      The Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”
  • Job 1:22 (Reaction to the test of faith)
    • “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
  • Job 2:3-8 (Further test of faith)
    • “…Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.’
      ‘Skin for skin!’ Satan replied. ‘A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.’
      The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.’
      So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.”
  • Job 2:9-10 (Reaction to the test of faith)
    • “[Job’s] wife said to him, ‘are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’
      [Job] replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
  • Job 38:1-15 (God speaks on man’s finite understanding; asserts His sovereignty)
    • “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
      ‘Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
      Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
      Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
      Tell me, if you understand.
      Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
      Who stretched a measuring line across it?
      On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-
      While the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
      Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said ‘this far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
      Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place,
      that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?
      The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
      its features stand out like those of a garment.
      The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.”
  • Job 40:1-2, 7-14 
    • “The Lord said to Job:
      ‘Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
      Let him who accuses God answer him!'”
    • “‘Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
      Would you discredit my justice?
      Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
      Do you have an arm like God’s, 
      and can your voice thunder like his?
      Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
      And clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
      Unleash the fury of your wrath,
      look at all who are proud and bring them low,
      Look at all who are proud and humble them,
      Crush the wicked where they stand.
      Bury them all in the dust together;
      Shroud their faces in the grave.
      Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.
  • Genesis 18:20-26, 32 (Negotiations for Sodom & Gomorrah; Disaster as punishment)
    • “Then the Lord said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grievous that I will go down to see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.’
      The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached Him and said: ‘Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’
      The Lord said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
    • “…Then he said, ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?’
      He answered, ‘For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.'”
  • Genesis 15:16 (On waging war against the Canaanites; sparing a less wicked generation)
    • “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
  • Romans 6:18-23
    • “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
      I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness (sanctification), and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Discussion:

  • This passage covers many things relevant to this discussion:
    • The limitations of human understanding of theological concepts (v. 19)
    • The rules/ God’s justice: “The wages of sin is death”
    • God’s goodness: “But the gift of God is eternal life”
    • Free will: Let’s talk about this juxtaposition of going from one kind of slavery to another. What about freedom? How can that be “good”?
  • Open discussion. Questions on this topic?

Final Scriptures:

  • Job 42:12, 16
    • “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.”
    • “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, and old man and full of years.”
  • Lamentations 3:31-33
    • “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.
      Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.
      For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.”
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