I read of a question recently raised by someone in India; “Why would God do this to us?” This is often asked in difficult times, and we are certainly in the midst, or rather at the beginning, of what may become extremely difficult times.
Here in the West, belief in God is widely considered unnecessary and even harmful, a frail crutch for the weak minded, an excuse for pride and bigotry or simply the childish dreams of the dull who are unwilling or unable to face reality. It wasn’t always so – in just a generation the cultural landscape has been radically transformed. The result has, in part, been the sifting out of those who had no more than a cultural faith from those who continue to hold to a solid, eyes wide open, confidence in the God who created the heavens and the earth.
Is such a bold faith both reasonable and possible in the present day? It is, but only if it has substance and is anchored in unshakable truth. When times are tough, mere sentiment, mere wishful thinking, will be blown away like dead leaves in a puff of wind and evaporate like dew in the hot sun.
The substance of a strong faith, and the unshakable truth in which it is anchored, is the cross of Jesus Christ. Why? Because in that one extraordinary historical event, man is seen as he is, and God is seen as He is.
Humanity is not deserving of God’s unending favour and blessing. The cross of Jesus shows us what we are and what we deserve. He who did unprecedented good, who spoke only truth, who wanted only our deliverance from sin, was betrayed and cruelly murdered. Few believed Him, most deserted Him and the ordinary people cried out for His blood. The common human experience, throughout the world and throughout history, has been sin. We suffer so much because of sin in others, and we afflict others because of the sin in our own hearts.
But the cross is not just a story of human sin, it is also the story of God’s great love. Jesus died willingly to suffer the judgement of God on sin due to us. He died our death. He did not need to die. It was not nails but love that held Him to the cross. What should have been unforgivable found forgiveness in the love that was seen on the day that Jesus died.
“Why would God do this to us?” you ask. To warn us. To awaken us to our need. To lead us, each one of us, to seek His forgiveness for our rebellion and corruption. It is His mercy, not His wrath, we are experiencing.
“Whoever is wise will observe these things,
And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” (Psalm 107:43)