events and the will to proclaim them aloud is
the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”
– Judith Lewis Herman
Do you often ask yourself; If God is a loving, compassionate, kind and forgiving God, why does he allow tragedy to happen to one’s life? I get asked this question quite often. In fact, it was a question that kept me stuck in my addiction for thirty-eight years. Before I continue, what exactly is a tragedy? A tragedy is an event that causes great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as; a serious accident, a crime, a natural catastrophe, affair, abuse, divorce, or death. I personally experienced five of these that are listed here.
I was ten-years old when my parents divorced. My father died when I was twelve-years old. So, this left me questioning if there was a God. A month after my father died, God placed a stepfather in my life that would emotionally, physically, spiritually, and sexually abuse from the age of twelve to seventeen-years old. In addition, my mother was also very abusive to me. The sad part about my abuse was that both my mother and stepfather were born again Christians, with my mother being a member of the choir and my stepfather a Deacon of the church. Their abuse and the churches failure to do anything about the abuse drove me away from both God and the church. It was their hypocrisy and hypocritic behaviors as well as their actions that left me questioning the reality of a loving, compassionate, kind, and forgiving God.
So then, why does God allow tragedy? When tragedy happens is tragedy really part of Gods ultimate plan for us? Remember that God is everything or he is nothing, there is no in between. Nothing, absolutely nothing that happens in Gods world happens by accident. Psalm 139:16 says – “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Jeremiah 1:5 says – "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." And Jeremiah 1:10 say – “Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”
If we all believe that the Bible is the truth, the book of life, which I do, then the answer to the question why does God allow tragedy too happen, is spelled out to us in verses like Psalm 139:16 and Jeremiah 1:5. Everything that happened to us was all preordained before we were even conceived. Before God even formed us in the womb, he set us apart. I have been in many a debate over this principle. However, if God is everything, if God knew me before I was even formed, then everything that had happened to me is exactly as God has ordained it for my life. To believe otherwise is to not believe in God. Everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason, good or bad. I have had plenty of theologians tell me that my abuse in no way was a part of Gods plan for my life. I whole heartedly disagree as God is everything to me. There is NO in between,
This is proven when we look at the story of Joseph in the book Genesis. At the age of seventeen, Joseph was given a vision by God showing him that one day he would rule over his family. But God did not reveal to him the challenges and tragedies he would have to endure over the next thirteen years. The betrayal by his jealous brothers. Then being thrown in to a pit to die, then selling him to the Midianite merchants and taken to Egypt where he would become a slave to Potiphar. Seeing that God was with Joseph, Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. This included Potiphar’s wife who would falsely accuse Joseph of raping her and had him thrown in jail. All of this happened to him before his vision came true and he became the ruler of Egypt.
As a young teenager, I was prophesied over that I would be helping many men in the future and that prophesy is coming true today. Had I of known of all that I was going to have to endure to get to this place in my life today, like the death of my father when I was twelve-years old, the abuse I endure as a child, teenager and young man, and the many other tragedies I faced in my life, I would have said “no thank you”. I will be honest, seven or eight years into my recovery I was still asking why I had gone through all the different tragedies in my life. Then one day, while in a Christian bookstore I picked up a book and on the inside cover it had a scripture written in it that answered all of my questions. That scripture was Genesis 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Had I not experienced all that I had in my life, the death of my father, the abuse, my addictions, an affair, my success in business and so much more, I would not be able to help people the way I am helping them today. Especially the men that have been sexually abused as well as their families.
God does not put us through anything he has not suffered himself. Just as God could have sent his legion of angels from heaven to save his son from the agonizing and cruel death of being crucified, he could do the same for us. If his son suffered, who are we to say we shouldn’t. Every beating I received; Christ suffered as well when he took thirty-nine lashes of a Cat of Nine Tails. In the same way my stepfather, stepbrothers, and mother humiliated me in front of others, Christ was humiliated as he was spat on and stoned as he carried the cross through Jerusalem on the way to Calvary. In the same way I felt betrayed by my stepfather and mother, Christ felt betrayed by his Father. Mark 15:34 in part says “…My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
God allows tragedy, he does not create it, we do as a result of our disobedience to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God gives us all the gift of self-will. As harsh as it sounds, God allows tragedy to come into our life because tragedy is often the only thing that engages us with God. Maybe God allows heartbreak, chaos, and confusion because through those things we finally begin to wake from our apathy. In many ways’ tragedy can force us to struggle with God. It can shake us out of our indifference and arouse us to engage in a relationship with Him, for many of us it will be the first time we turn to God.
Jeremiah 1:5 says – "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." If God knew me before he formed me in the womb and appointed me as a prophet to the nations, then everything that happened to me had to happen in order for the prophesy and calling on my life to be fulfilled. Without the knowledge and wisdom gained from life experiences, I could not help those that suffered as I had. Without the knowledge and wisdom of my healing, I could not help them heal.
Jeremiah 1:10 say – “Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” For me, I was appointed a prophet to a nation of abused men and their families. By prophet, I mean a mouthpiece for those that that feel they have no voice. I was appointed to destroy and overthrow a nation of those men and women, that tell us to just get over it. I am called to build a community that wants to face the stigma that sexual abuse has no effect on a man’s life. I am called to plant a seed of faith that there is hope and healing for the wounded men in this world.
So, why does God allow tragedy? It is likely that we will never know until we are standing before him on our judgement day. For myself I know why I experienced the tragedies in my life. I am sure that several of you might even disagree with me and that’s okay. I would encourage you to keep an open mind and willingness to the possibilities that God has something big for you at the end of your tragedy. Perhaps Jimmy Evans says it best in this quote: “God could deliver us from pain, but instead He often chooses to deliver us through it. When you experience tragedy or have questions, take then to God. Engage Him. Don’t be afraid to struggle. God brings beauty from ashes.”