Young People Ask . . .
Why So Many Heartaches if God Cares?
“GOD did this to you to slow you down,” said the old man to 19-year-old Wallace, who had just been shot in the back and was now paralyzed from his chest down. Wallace found little comfort in the old man’s sincere remark.
Yet Wallace’s heartaches had only begun. At a rehabilitation school he was abused because of racial prejudice. “Why is there so much hatred in the world? Why so many crimes of violence? I was in the prime of my life, a star athlete! Why did I have to end up in a wheelchair?” pondered this young man. “Yes, why did God allow this?”
Perhaps you have asked similar questions. When you see the innocent suffer, you may ask: Why? Whose fault is it?
Suffering—Who Is Really to Blame?
We can’t escape this fact: much suffering is man-made. For instance, in 1979, 11 young people were killed when a large crowd rushed to get into a rock concert, in a “frenzied stampede” for seats. But whose fault was it? God’s?
According to investigators, one of the chief reasons for the tragedy was the arrangement of “festival seating” whereby “the floor or the entire arena is left unreserved, and the best places are taken by those who get there first”—or by those who are the strongest. That is why many youngsters like it. Yet some organizers reportedly favor this form of seating because it usually enables them to sell more tickets. So greed and selfishness—either for a better viewing place or for more money—contributed to the tragedy.
Today an estimated 400 million people “live constantly on the brink of starvation.” But is this because our earth will not produce enough food? That is not the problem, according to authorities; they blame uneven food distribution due to selfishness, greed or inefficiency. Human selfishness, not God, is also responsible for today’s wars, violent crime and industrial pollution.
“But God could stop it. He has the power. Why doesn’t he?” was the charge Wallace leveled at one of his black companions who was attending the same rehabilitation school. This young man had an answer.
Why Does God Permit It?
“The reasons for God’s permission of evil go back to the dawn of human history,” explained 17-year-old Willie. “According to the Bible, our original ancestors, Adam and Eve, were created in a paradise. They had perfectly healthy bodies, plenty of food and meaningful work. But they turned their backs on God’s care.”
“But why?” asked Wallace. “It was because of lying propaganda,” responded Willie. “Speaking through a serpent, an invisible spirit rebel, Satan, told Eve that God was a liar. ‘Obey me and you won’t die; in fact your life will be even better. You’ll be just like God.’ That was Satan’s subtle approach. You know what happened next? Adam and Eve lost their perfection and passed on sickness and death through their children to us today. This is why our world is in such a mess.” Then Willie drew attention to the basic reason why God has permitted wickedness.—Genesis chaps. 2, 3; Romans 5:12.
The Big Issue
An issue was raised that was much more significant than whether God had the power to destroy them or not. In trying to explain, Willie asked: “You’ve heard people say, ‘Might makes right’ . . . ?”
“That’s a lie!” interrupted Wallace, as he reflected on his feeble position as a paralytic. “Just because you’re stronger doesn’t mean that what you do is always right.”
“Exactly!” continued Willie. “The issue, then, was not one of might but of whether God’s way of running things was right. Was it for the lasting good of people on earth? Or could people be happier by doing ‘their own thing,’ as it were, and disregarding God’s directions? Also, could Satan really bring about a world of lasting health and happiness? The answer required time.”
“But since it was God that had a point to prove, why should I have to suffer?” demanded Wallace. Willie had strong feelings about this, for he, too, was handicapped, with a leg he could not bend.
An Issue That Involves Us
“When Adam and Eve rebelled, a question was raised about the quality of God’s intelligent creatures,” replied Willie. “Though in time many of the offspring of Adam followed God’s laws, Satan sneered, ‘Why did they do it?’ Did they worship God merely for the material blessings he provided rather than out of love?” Realizing that Wallace was raising a small son, Willie asked: “If someone accused your son of obeying you just because of the material things you gave him, what do you think he would want to do?”—Job 1:9, 10.
“He’d want to prove them wrong, because I know that my son loves me!” exclaimed Wallace. “Oh, I see your point. So God gave people a chance to show that they really loved him—during good times or bad.”
Many faithful persons throughout history, such as the man Job of ancient times, have proved Satan’s accusation to be a lie. But what about his boast that life on earth would be better by ignoring God’s laws?
What Have the Results Proved?
Wallace could plainly see a world filled with hate. After becoming involved with several racial movements in an endeavor to correct injustices, he realized that these did not have the answer. He knew of nothing that could replace hatred with love.
Perhaps you, too, have seen the same hopeless predicament. Many young people realize that even modern technology, which 100 years ago seemed sure to bring about a beautiful tomorrow, has only brought mankind to within a hairbreadth of destruction. Isn’t it obvious that rule independent of God cannot bring a world of peace and happiness? But can God’s way of running things do so?
“I could see from my first visit that these people had really solved racial problems,” stated Wallace after attending a meeting at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Accepting Willie’s invitation to ‘see for himself’ persons who were trying to live by God’s laws, he was deeply moved by the genuine warmth among those in the racially mixed congregation. “In this small town filled with racial prejudice, these people were an amazing example of love,” said Wallace. He wanted to learn more. Yes, here was evidence that God’s rule can produce genuine love.
God Still Cares!
But will God ever stop all this suffering? Yes, he will!
“I was overjoyed to realize that soon God is going to destroy those who are ‘ruining our earth’ and restore that earthly paradise,” Wallace stated later. (Revelation 11:18) How Wallace beamed to learn that God can completely erase all the damage caused by centuries of wickedness! He can raise to life again those who have died. He can change limbs rendered useless by injury or disease into those that can run and leap.—2 Peter 3:7, 13; Acts 24:15; compare Isaiah 35:5, 6.
“I had no hope before,” said Wallace. “But now all the bitterness has left me. How comforted I am to realize that God did not cause me to become a cripple! I have faith that someday soon in that restored paradise I will get out of this wheelchair and walk again. This hope has given me peace of mind and I find that I can live with my present situation.” Yes, this young man found out that, despite a world filled with heartache, God does care!