Lou: Here’s a question that speaks poignantly to where many of us hurt and wonder. “’The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.’ I have a cousin, age thirty years, who has a malignant brain tumor; and he is awaiting death. There is nothing medically that can be done for him. Everyone tells him, ‘God’s will be done.’ Now the question is, does God will for one to die? I don’t think so. I believe that sin has contaminated the world and as a result we have disease and death. So please elaborate on this concept, and what’s more, what do you say to such a person? How do you talk about God’s will?”
Graham: That’s too sad to give a snap answer to. I think at times like that we draw from everything we’ve learned and experienced about God through the years. One needs to fall back on the things one is sure of. One thing I am sure of, God wants us to be well. He created us perfect. Disorder, disease–these are not of His doing. These are all part of being caught up in the consequences of this revolt. But we also know that God could heal, that’s true. And if He doesn’t seem to be healing at this time, we might wonder why. And it’s OK to wonder why. There is abundant evidence in Scripture that God is not offended when we ask why, not for a moment!
But why is God willing for this person to die? Is He a destructive God? An experience like this really tests the kind of person we believe our God to be. But even when things are not too clear, if one has learned that prayer is conversation with God as with a friend, then those who are wondering feel perfectly free to kneel down and really talk to God about this. We can say, “God, this is not clear. It looks as if You are like this, but that’s the devil’s picture of You.” Or “It looks as if You are like that. You couldn’t be, could You? Or are You?” God would not be offended by such a question. Actually, He honors such questions. There is great peace that comes from realizing we have a God toward whom we can direct such questions, even in times of great agony. The short answer to this question is this: Learn the good news about God. And there’s one more thing I am sure of, if the Lord were visibly present in your moment of suffering, how sympathetic He would be! More than anything else He would want to clear up the impression that He is the cause of that suffering.
Lou: Here’s a related question: “Can you give a reason why a loving God would allow a good Christian woman to be murdered? She was a good help in her small Church. The last Sabbath of her life they had a consecration service at the church. She dedicated herself anew to God, and she was murdered that afternoon at her house. She was the treasurer, and she had money at her house, and apparently that was the reason that someone broke in and she was killed. The reason I know about this is that she was my sister.”
Graham: Again, happy is the person who knows God very well at a time like this. It doesn’t mean that we would know the specific answer to the situation. I don’t think Job ever found out why those awful things happened to him. All he knew was that his theologian friends were wrong. They came to Job and said, “You cannot be asking God about this.” Job was crying to God with intense feeling and saying, “God, how can You do this to me? I’ve been your good friend all this time, and now You won’t even speak to me. You won’t explain this.” And his friends kept repeating their legalistic explanations. None of their explanations were helpful. Finally Job said, “I wish you brethren would be quiet. I appreciate your coming, but you’re not helping me at all. If only I could talk to God, I’m sure I could clear this up” (Job 16:2; 31:35). Eventually the boldness of his inquiries reached such a level that those three men were worried that God would surely zap him on the spot for daring to inquire. Instead, God broke in and said, “Job, you have said of Me what is right” (based on Job 42:7).
So if a person is wrestling with a tragedy like this, we may not find out why. I’m sure we won’t find out the answer to every unfair thing that happens on this planet during this emergency. But some things we know for sure; the kind of person God is, and His willingness to receive our questions. He welcomes us to lodge our inquiries with feeling, and hopefully we will trust Him enough to wait for the answer. And I’d like to think that that sister was such a saint you don’t need to worry about her. She will arise in the resurrection and say, “What am I doing here?” She will have no complaints. She’ll be looking for her sister.
In the next chapter we will deal with the whole question of authority, which is really the essence of the great controversy. The way God speaks to this is just magnificent. He is infinite in authority and power, but He would never think of intimidating or overwhelming us.