The Answer to the Why Question
Her words broke my heart.
“If God loves me, why would he have let this happen to me?”
Knowing the deep ache of injustice behind that question, I cried with her and held her in my arms. She had been so guarded for so long, and now I understood why.
As I searched for an answer, some hope to offer her, I was reminded of other injustices God has allowed. Big ones, like the estimated six million Jews who died during the Holocaust. Or the heinous sin of legalized slavery and racism that has oppressed, dehumanized, and taken the lives of untold Africans. Or the estimated 238,000 unborn babies who were surgically aborted in the U.S. already this year. Or the 1.7+ million estimated cancer patients who will be diagnosed in 2019 in this country alone. I could go on. Or you could tell your own story or simply flip on the news. The fact is that all of us, in one way or another, experience the sting of injustice.
So, why would a good God allow such evil and suffering upon the people he created? Still searching for the answer, I rehearsed in my heart what I know to be true:
- “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Ps. 89:13-15).
- “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Ps. 100:5).
- “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Ps. 145:9).
Then it hit me. Jesus’s final words on the cross were, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matt. 27:46)?
Hold up. Jesus asked “the why question,” similar to the one I was trying to answer! God the Son, asked God the Father, “Why?” He knew the answer; he was God. Yet in his humanity, as he felt the deepest agony of pain and injustice imaginable, he questioned God with a loud cry. Then he died. And the very fact that he died gives us the answer.
He died because of sin. He willingly submitted to the Father because there was no other way to bring salvation. His death proves that he is good, sin exists, and it must be atoned by holiness. Jesus was the only one worthy and capable of saving us.
So why would a good God allow bad things to happen to us? Because he gives us free will and every one of us chooses sin. Because we live in a sin-filled world and none of us are immune to its effects. Sin. That is the answer.
The cross is the solution. “For by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). When we struggle to understand injustice, we must look to the cross. The cross is where every sin and every injustice was made right—paid for in full by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus’s death cancels the debt of every sin; the cross has the final word over every wrong ever inflicted.
So, friends, let us be angry over injustice. Let us weep and mourn and be called to action. But may we never direct our anger toward our just and holy God. If you find yourself questioning God’s goodness, rehearse the truth of the gospel. Remind your heart that sin is the reason injustice exists, and the cross is our victory.