Not long ago, I watched a video regarding the recent “deconversion” of a number of Christian celebrities. Many reasons were given by these individuals as to why they had decided to abandon their faith, but one in particular stood out to me, “Why doesn’t God show up? If God is so powerful, so loving, why are there so many bad things in the world?” One of these individuals said, “Why doesn’t God cure cancer? If I was omnipotent, that’s what I’d do.” How many times have you wondered that same thing?
While a strong spiritual argument to the fact that God does show up can be presented, there are two thoughts I’d like to specifically explore.
God says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways… . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9. He also says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you … thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The KJV says, “to give you an expected end.”
Our future and hope is not in this world and while God does promise blessings and provides what we need in this life, He does not promise it will always be easy or fair. He does not promise, for now, that He will remove all the obstacles or take away all the bad things. We think in terms of the here and now, but God thinks and plans in the what-is-to-come. The reason that bad things happen, that life isn’t fair, but rather is hard and painful sometimes, is because of sin and our penchant for indulging in it. Which leads to my second thought.
The entire history of this world is one of spiritual conflict. The purpose of this conflict is to prove to everyone in this world and all the universe the true heinousness and perniciousness of sin. So then, how could God, no matter how much He may want to, remove all the consequences of sin, both the natural ones and those that come from our individual choices?
Remember where sin began. Heaven is a perfect place and Lucifer still exercised his God-given free will to be jealous and prideful, and to spread discontent and malice toward God and His Son even there, aspiring to be like and equal with God. So, if God were to make this earth some kind of perfect place, sin would still find a way in it because there are so many people who would still choose to do evil.
Once this conflict is over, everyone will know sin for exactly what it is and those who have developed and maintained a saving relationship with Jesus Christ will not want to be sinful anymore. There will be no desire for sin and the Bible says that as a result “affliction [sin] will not rise up a second time.” Nahum 1:9
In addition to these two thoughts there are two others to consider: the vindication of God’s Law—the representation of His character—and the building up of a people, a church, who follow God’s will.
“Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy has now been made plain. The results of rebellion, the fruits of setting aside the divine statutes, have been laid open to the view of all created intelligences. The working out of Satan’s rule in contrast with the government of God has been presented to the whole universe. Satan’s own works have condemned him. God’s wisdom, His justice, and His goodness stand fully vindicated. It is seen that all His dealings in the great controversy have been conducted with respect to the eternal good of His people and the good of all the worlds that He has created. … The history of sin will stand to all eternity as a witness that with the existence of God’s law is bound up the happiness of all the beings He has created. With all the facts of the great controversy in view, the whole universe, both loyal and rebellious, with one accord declare: ‘Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.’ ” Maranatha, 346
“The final judgment is a most solemn, awful event. This must take place before the universe. To the Lord Jesus the Father has committed all judgment. He will declare the reward of loyalty to all who obey the law of Jehovah. God will be honored and His government vindicated and glorified, and that in the presence of the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds. On the largest possible scale will the government of God be vindicated and exalted. It is not the judgment of one individual or of one nation but of the whole world. Oh, what a change will then be made in the understanding of all created beings. Then all will see the value of eternal life.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 349
At long last, the universe will clearly see the insidiousness of Satan’s efforts to destroy God’s character and his insinuations that His law is one of tyranny rather than love. But Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to save the souls of all mankind, and every word and deed of His life, proved that God’s law was crafted in love, that the happiness and well-being of man is bound up with it.
“God is omnipotent, omniscient, immutable. He always pursues a straightforward course. His law is truth—unchanging, eternal truth. His precepts are consistent with His attributes. But Satan makes them appear in a false light. By perverting them he seeks to give human beings an unfavorable impression of God. Throughout his rebellion he has sought to represent God as an unjust, tyrannical being.
“But Satan’s hypocrisy has been unmasked by Christ’s life, trial, and death. Christ took upon Himself human nature, and by His perfect life demonstrated the falsity of the claims of him who constantly accuses those who are trying to obey God’s law. And the blood of Christ shed on the cross is the everlasting, incontrovertible testimony that God’s law is as immutable as is His own character.” Christ Triumphant, 291
And then there is the church of God. What, or more accurately who are God’s people?
“The church on earth is God’s temple, and it is to assume divine proportions before the world. This building is to be the light of the world. It is to be composed of living stones laid close together, stone fitting to stone, making a solid building. All these stones are not of the same shape or dimension. Some are large and some are small, but each one has its own place to fill. In the whole building there is not to be one misshapen stone. Each one is perfect. And each stone is a living stone, a stone that emits light. The value of the stones is determined by the light they reflect to the world.
“Now is the time for the stones to be taken from the quarry of the world and brought into God’s workshop, to be hewed, squared, and polished, that they may shine. This is God’s plan, and He desires all who profess to believe the truth to fill their respective places in the great, grand work for this time.
“The angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven, that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement, and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright, clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
“In this world we are to shine in good works. The Lord requires His people … to reflect the light of God’s character, God’s love, as Christ reflected it. As we look unto Jesus, all our lives will be aglow with that wondrous light. Every part of us is to be light; then whichever way we turn, light will be reflected from us to others. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. In Him is no darkness at all; therefore, if we are in Christ, there will be no darkness in us.” In Heavenly Places, 281
So why has it taken so long? Why has this controversy continued for more than 6,000 years?
“The reason why the Bridegroom delays is because He is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. … O that each … would appreciate the value of the soul that has been purchased at infinite cost on Calvary! O that each one would place a proper estimate upon the capabilities that have been given him of God! Through Christ you may climb the ladder of progress, and bring every power under the control of Jesus. You may represent the character of Jesus. In spirit, in thought, in word, and in action, you may make manifest that you are moved by the Spirit of Christ, and your life may wield a power of influence over others.” The Youth’s Instructor, September 20, 1894
“The Light of the world is shining upon us that we might absorb the divine rays and let this light shine upon others in good works, that many souls shall be led to glorify our Father which is in heaven. He is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and it grieves the heart of Jesus that so many refuse the offers of His mercy and matchless love.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 303
Friends, we can be absolutely certain that God has, does and will show up. The Bible says, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
It may not always look the way we think it should but, “When we are in trouble and pressed down with anxieties, the Lord is near, and He bids us cast all our care upon Him, because He cares for us. …
“He comes to all His children in their affliction. In time of danger He is their refuge. In sorrow, He offers them joy and consolation. … He utters the gracious invitation, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ …
“Those who turn to God with heart and soul and mind will find in Him peaceful security. …
“He knows just what we need, just what we can bear, and He will give us grace to endure every trial and test that He brings upon us. …
“Every provision has been made to meet the needs of our spiritual and our moral nature.” Our Father Cares, 17, 18
Doesn’t that sound like a God who shows up? And if we can’t clearly see that God is present, available, powerful and patiently waiting on us, then it is because we are looking somewhere else, or we want Him to respond in a way we expect or even demand, or we think we know better what to do and how to do it.
If you are concerned that maybe God hasn’t shown up, think about this. From the beginning God knew that evil would spread across this world and its people. He knew that they would choose to follow another. Yet, instead of abandoning the idea of creating this world, He made a plan to restore its people to their rightful place as His created children, if they chose Him to be their Father. He provided the Holy Spirit to speak to hearts and effect transformation in the lives of those seeking it. He provided the Lamb as our life pattern and ultimately as a sacrifice to pay the penalty, one we could not pay, for the sins of the whole world. He provides love, forgiveness, restoration, atonement, rest, faith, peace and opportunity. Whatever is necessary is provided to bring even a single one of His children back into a right relationship with Himself, including the entire host of heaven, if needed.
God doesn’t have to show up. He’s never been away. He’s always been right here. We may not understand why and how things happen in this world, but it isn’t because God has failed to be present. I know that there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world and a lot of innocent people are hurt. And that is why we ask the question “Why doesn’t God show up?” But I have faith that when this world finally comes to an end, when sin and Satan are gone, that God will make everything come out right for those who put their trust in Him. We must always remember what God has promised us: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
The question isn’t whether God will show up, but will we?
Judy Rebarchek is a member of the LandMarks team. She can be contacted at: email@example.com