“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “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 (New International Version)
Shock. Anger. Despair. We hurt. We grieve. Tragedies, injustices and lives taken by illnesses of any kind leave many of us asking God, “Why?” and “Where were you?!” We’re perplexed by how a loving God who is all knowing, all seeing, and everywhere can allow such events as the June 17 massacre of nine Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church members of Charleston, S.C., participating in bible study, to perish on His watch.
The aforementioned words captured in Isaiah 55:8-9 give us the answer. It’s not the answer our natural mind desires or is able to reconcile. Tragedies that befall wrongdoers are easier to reconcile in our minds because we inherently believe justice was rendered. But what solace can be found in the death(s) of those who selflessly serve others? Those who love and trust others? Those who gather for bible study on a Wednesday night, welcoming members and strangers alike?
Answer: God is and always will be sovereign (in control, giving allowance for situations to occur). We weren’t there when God hung the stars in the sky, or when He formed the Earth’s foundations and positioned our planet in perfect distance from the sun. In our limited abilities, intellect and understanding we are in no position to dictate what God should and shouldn’t do. In Romans 11:33 the apostle Paul writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Romans 11:33, 34).
Good and evil are always at war in this fallen world. Evil is on an uptick and is not taking a backseat. God works through Believers, unbelievers and events to bring light to darkness. To accomplish His purposes, God will be God without requiring our understanding. What IS required of us if we so choose: to have faith in Who He is, faith in His good plans for us, to believe that He is drawing people and transforming hearts even in tragedies, trust His love for us, believe His promise to always be with us and to believe in the One He sent in Who we are to place our hope: His Son Jesus Christ.
We will encounter troubles in this life. To seek solace in this world will not garner peace that lasts. In Christ Jesus alone will we find true peace, as He tells us in John 16:33- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Those who have passed on have run their race in victory. The Voices Against the Grain ministry team unites in spirit with our brothers and sisters in Christ and others to extend prayers of comfort, hope and love to the family members of those killed, to the members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Charleston, S.C., community.
Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.
Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.