Last month I had the opportunity to return to Kenya for a third time. Every time I’m there I get to learn something new, but this particular trip was a little different for me because I left with more questions than answers about what God was trying to teach me.
On about the fourth or fifth day of being there I was approached by one of the children that is living in the slum of Nairobi. This girl is one that I look forward to seeing every time I’m there. I love her so much and what she told me that day absolutely broke my heart. She asked me for help out of a really horrifying situation. I felt so small because I had no idea how to help her.
Immediately following that conversation our team gathered up with some of the Kenyan staff and had a meeting together about the different things we were experiencing on our trip. We started this meeting by singing “How Great is Our God”. My heart felt like it weighed 50 pounds inside of my chest. I had no idea how to help this girl, and I knew in that moment that my God is a good God, but it was hard for me to understand why He would allow that poor girl to live in a situation where she was unsafe. I know the amount of love I have for her made me want to protect her, so how could God not protect her when I know He loves her infinitely more than I ever could?
These are the questions I’ve been wrestling with for the last few weeks and I want to share with you what I’ve realized and discovered in this pursuit for truth.
** Just to ease your worries, I later found someone who could help her. I know that someone has since made sure she is safe and that the situation is better.
I think I should start by acknowledging the weight of these questions. A few weeks ago in our college Bible study we were discussing doubts and voicing some of our biggest questions about God. It was a cool time to see just how many of us have the exact same questions. Sometimes it feels wrong to ask them. As if by simply not understanding something you were in some way betraying Christ. I loved the realization that so many of us had that it is okay to not understand something and it is okay to doubt as long as you face those questions and seek truth.
The one question that came up several times in different variations was this: Why does God allow bad things to happen to us if He is a God of love? Or why does He allow people to go to Hell when they die if He loves all of us so much? I think these questions hinder so many people from accepting Christ. If we dwell here it can be so dangerous. This whole idea allows us to throw all of the blame for evil onto God, when in reality it is our own fault.
Let’s go back to the very beginning. Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden. Everything is perfect. Nothing bad is happening to them. They are living in perfect harmony with God. They spend time with Him everyday and are so happy. Then one day Satan comes along and ruins everything. He convinces Eve to sin and that’s where it all spirals out of control. The world becomes this place full of evil, sickness, and consequences. We all understand the concept of consequences from a young age. If you don’t obey, then your parents will have to punish you. If you do all your chores, then you get a prize. If you hurt your friend, then they will be upset with you. Consequences are easy to understand. So the consequence for sin is ultimately death.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”
In our sin we have no hope. We are sentenced to death and an eternity in Hell, but God (because He is a good God who loves us) sent His son to save us by dying for us. He doesn’t want to hurt us; He gave us a way to live. He is our source of hope and our source of comfort. We can ask Him to save us from our sin and their consequences, and then we get to live an eternity in Heaven with Him where there is no pain or suffering. There is no sickness, hunger, or abuse. We get to return to that perfect place where we’re with God.
This doesn’t mean that He leaves us alone while we are on this Earth. He is paying attention. He’s taking care of us. We have to trust Him. Our dependency on Him is so vital to our relationship with Him. Every blessing is from God.
James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…”
He is our protector and defender.
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Yes, bad things happen all of the time. We live in a cruel world full of sin and heartache. I do not need to water that down. Life is so hard for so many people facing problems that I cannot even fathom. I cannot begin to understand why God does not step in and change some people’s circumstances, but how could I fully understand? His ways are higher than mine.
Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”
Maybe the way that He intervened for that girl in the slum is by her coming to me for help. It’s awesome that God uses us to be His hands and feet. I cannot understand how God is working sometimes, but I know He wants to use us.
I also know that I would not want to face this harsh world without Him. He may not always answer my prayers the way I initially think He should or when I think He should, but I know that He hears every single one of them. I know that He has given me a purpose and I don’t want to miss it.
I know that my God is good. He is powerful, strong, and in control.