Why does God allow it?

 

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

 

If God is good and God is strong and God knows everything, why doesn’t He change the circumstances that hurt us so much? This question haunts many believers and non-believers. Some would say that they became unbelievers because of this question. If they were honest, some may say that they became unbelievers because of the answers they were given.

 

In our comments this past week this question has come up in the context of the painful narcissistic relationship. How can God allow some people to use and abuse and cause so much pain to others? How can God stand by while we lose so much? Why doesn’t God deal with the abusers?

 

What I have found over the years is that the pat answers, no matter how good they sound to the one who gives them, rarely give real help to those who are hurting. Here are a few:

 

  1. It’s because of sin in your life. If you obeyed better, these terrible things wouldn’t be happening to you.
  2. It’s for your good. God loves you and sent the abuser to make you what He wants you to be.
  3. God is preparing you to be strong because something worse is coming.

 

Now, I don’t find any of those to be helpful. The first one makes evil my fault. The second one makes evil God’s fault. The last one makes my future seem dreadful. There is no comfort in any of these.

 

Please understand that this is one of the great mysteries of the faith. The answers we have do not come easily. This post will take a topic that could encompass many pages and boil them down to one, and that will be less than satisfying for any of us.

 

So here’s what I know:

 

  1. God is good and He loves me. He is not malicious or wrathful. He does not send trouble into my life to hurt me.
  2. God is strong enough and wise enough to stop the pain and change the circumstances. The fact that He doesn’t, does not change the fact that He could.
  3. God does not initiate evil, nor does He send it on us. His plan for us is good. The abuser is responsible for the evil he does.
  4. The world is broken, not working the way it was meant to work. Evil is a natural part of this brokenness. Those who do evil, narcissists and other abusers, participate in evil without any prompting by God.
  5. God does use difficult circumstances to draw us to Himself and He is able to turn curses into blessings. While He is not the author of the evil we suffer, He can use it for good in our lives.
  6. There are worse things than the pain we suffer. In the moment it is very hard to feel the reality of this, but it is true. The loneliness and confusion and emptiness of life apart from God’s love is one thing I would consider worse.
  7. All evil is temporary. Most of it will end in this life, but all will be gone in the next. That which is broken will be re-created and pain will be gone forever.
  8. In my pain I am never alone. The Lord is always with me, always near when I cry out to Him. Even when I cannot feel His presence, I can take comfort in knowing that He is with me.
  9. Those who look to Him and trust Him in the midst of their pain do find a special grace, an ability to live above their circumstances and to find their identity apart from their suffering.

 

Does this help me? Yes, it does. It reminds me that I don’t need the pat answers. As much as I want to understand, I really don’t need to. My desire to understand is usually a desire to control. I want to approve of my circumstances, even the difficult ones. If I know the purpose, then I might be able to give permission. But that is not my place. When I am able to trust Him, I find the peace He wants me to have.

 

No, I do not find this easy. I wish I could just live this way consistently, no matter what happens. But I am just as weak as anyone, just as fearful and just as doubtful. The only thing I have is the one thing I know—Jesus loves me.

 

Do I still wish He would change things sometimes? Of course! I pray against pain and suffering, in my life and in the lives of others. But as long as we are in this world, the brokenness will affect our lives. Sometimes, some amazing and wonderful times, God reaches in and changes things. The pain ends and life is good again for a while. I praise Him and rejoice in my peace. But I am learning to find that peace even in the times of struggle. Learning slowly, but learning.

 

No more pat answers. Don’t blame evil on me or on God. It just is. There may be causes and explanations, but none of them help my situation. What helps is to look on the One who loves me and trust Him.

 

That’s my prayer for each of you. Look to Him and trust in His love. Do what He leads you to do. If you can leave the narcissistic relationship, do it. If you cannot, then look to Jesus and find His overwhelming love in the midst of your struggle. He is there for you.

27 Comments

Filed under Narcissism, Relationship, Theology and mystery

27 responses to “Why does God allow it?

  1. Rox

    This topic could not have come at a better time. I was literally tortured by my family for 30 years. Then, I befriended a holy man who pledged to help me overcome this who, I find out now, 20 years later, is a narcissist who was using my pain for his own benefit, essentially doing to me what he’d sworn to help me recover from. I have faith in God that He did not want this for me and that some grace will be wrought from it. But it’s tough to see these abusers succeed, while the survivors struggle to put it all back together . . . yet again. How do we hang in in the face of such injustice?

  2. Penny

    Thank you, Dave, for the time it must have taken to condense this as you have. There ARE mysteries that belong to God.

  3. Lisa

    I love so much about this because in one post you encapsulated things it took me years to “understand.” I would like to add to this comment…My desire to understand is usually a desire to control…that those who would give pat answers also usually do it out of their own desire to control…to believe that you did something that caused your pain that they would never do, so they are safe from pain, or that they at least understand the “formula” by which God and the universe works, so it seems predictable at least. Evil just “is” because it is the downside of free will, which is the true gift of God.

  4. Reblogged this on Real Life Ministries USA and commented:
    I’m reading Scarred by struggle, transformed by hope. This goes along with it.

  5. Trying to cope

    Rox, this seems to ring true with me. This n convinced me I had no self confidence and then said we would work on that. So for a long time I thought his meanness was part of his plan to help me. Twisted yes, but I could not understand discarding. I did not know he was an n yet. Now I know. I deny, I want things from him that clearly an n could never provide. Empathy, friendship. I have learned whatever he gives is an act.
    So it has been suggested I look to god for wisdom! ask for wisdom. I’m not sure where I lost wisdom. That is the hard part. Why did this happen, why does god allow the torture. I get it’s not him it’s the abuser, what I don’t get is what voices in my head I must listen too. No I’m not crazy when I say that. It’s just clearly I have made a wrong judgement somewhere, but if you ask for a something and you have an idea…is that not the answer. How does gods answer come to us? I feel I’m getting it wrong somewhere.

  6. Cookie

    This is such a good reminder to ask myself where I am focusing my attention. It is so easy to focus on and think about the narcissist – the latest manipulation or injustice, the fear and dread over what they will do next and the anger and hurt that will never really be heard or understood no matter how many times I explain or plead. This is a good reminder to put my focus on Jesus. He knows, He cares, He comforts, He tells me the truth, He gives wisdom and, sometimes, He brings deliverance from the situation, but always in His own way and in His own time. And He promises to turn my scars into stars for the comfort of others and the glory of His name. If there is one thing I want to remember today, it is this: The narcissist may think they are sovereign (that they control their world), but only God is truly sovereign. I may never understand what He allows in my life this side of heaven, but I know that He loves me, cares for me, promises to never leave me or forsake me, will work all things together for my good and His plans for me and for the world will ultimately prevail. At the end of Job’s struggle to make sense of his horrific circumstances, he humbles himself and declares to God, “I know you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2).

  7. Sunflower

    Somewhere in the Bible it says that God doesn’t do anything without first telling His prophets and warning us. I do find that in looking back, I was warned. Either I thought I knew better, or I was running on emotional needs, or the teachings of the church had me believing that if someone says they are a Christian then they really are and have good intentions, therefore they will listen to reason when it is presented.

    I think in our churches in our day we are not taught enough how to listen for God’s voice, how to discern good counsel from bad, how to recognize evil when we run into it, how to even get good counsel.

    At least 3 people warned me on this one but they must have thought they needed good reasons, for me to believe them, because the reasons they gave were really weird and goofy. For example, “He looks just like so-and-so (another N))”. Or, “Your first husband is going to change just before you marry this guy and he’ll be so heart-broken.” (he didn’t change, he was already living with another woman). Or, “You need to pray to fall in love with your first husband all over again and then if he doesn’t change, God will kill him.” (really!) And so I discounted them. But God speaks through a donkey if He wants to so we need to bring every caution to Him I think.

    This of course doesn’t apply to having an N parent. I just feel that often there is a way out and we don’t take it, or maybe those who are called to help us don’t, etc. That if the church was operating the way He meant it to, a lot of this stuff wouldn’t happen, or would be solved much more quickly.

    • jo

      Amazing point. I was a fairly new Christian when the narcissist in my life twisted scripture to manipulate me into marrying him. I thought it was my selfishness speaking to me one day when I’m certain I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to “send him away.” It’s chilling when you say that God warns us. I have often regretted not being wiser to obey Him that day.

  8. L D

    Hi, You say that God does not send/allow evil on others but what about Job? I’ve just accepted that everything is free will. The abusers use their free will to do evil. We must use our free will to leave the abuse and continue doing good. The Bible warns against these people and if I had opened my eyes sooner I would have run sooner. They are railers and abusers, plain and simple, and the Bible says we are not to even eat with these people. I used to torture myself asking why, as well, but now I don’t. It’s free will. Thanks for your writing. I would be curious to know your thoughts on Job because that is what made me think God sent evil upon me to test me. Also, when the Bible talks about someone having a misfortune due to sin in his/her life or their family’s life this sounds pretty clear about God allowing it. Lynn

    ________________________________

    • Actually, I didn’t say that God does not allow evil. He certainly does, but He does not send it or initiate it. The challenge Satan gave was that God had been giving Job special protection. He suggested that without that protection, Job would turn against God. God pulled back His protection of Job and Satan brought the evil.

      Now, there are many deep questions involved with this story. I think the point of Job is for us to remember that the purposes of God and the reality of the world around us are far bigger and, perhaps, stranger than we understand. Job doesn’t appear to ever understand why these things happened, but we are shown the higher purpose. The best Job could do was simply submit to the will of God. And, even though God did not send the evil, God did allow it. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

      The story ends with Job in conversation with God. A relationship. Few questions are answered, at least the kind of questions we would like answered. What Job learns is that God is great and there is more to the story. He learns to trust.

      Perhaps one of the most unfortunate parts of this story is that we miss what must have been incredible pain in Job’s heart. Suffering produces pain. The pain is not good, but it is only a byproduct of the suffering. We learn that explanations and rationalizations do nothing to ease the pain. The important thing is for us to remember our place and the Lord who loves us.

  9. Kathy

    I can accept and understand that there are things that are unacceptable and incomprehensible. But I really struggle with “God, just let me know that you saw it, you heard it.”

    • Sometimes it helps me to remember that I am just a child.

      Like the little one who is hurt, no amount of explanation or justification will ease the pain. The only thing that helps is having mom or dad there. If mom or dad are not there, no doctor or nurse or caretaker will be enough. Once mom comes, the child can find comfort in the midst of the pain.

      I will always ask God to take the pain away, but it is bearable when He is near. Relationship gives the heart strength.

      • Kathy

        Thank you, Dave, very much. I do need to be reminded that, although I’m an adult and a mom, God is Abba. I am His child. And that helps very much. Thank you.

  10. Jennie

    I have had a lot of bad things happen to me. Alcoholic father and narcissist mother who doted on and favoured my brother. Sexually molested by two different men when I was a child. Father killed drinking and driving when I was 10. Written out of the will in front of my face in favor of my brother when I was 16. House fire (deliberately set by someone) when I was 17. Narcissist, perverted husband. Dear friend murdered by her husband the day after I ran to a women’s shelter away from mine. Granddaughter who passed away from SIDS.

    You get the idea. The only answer I have to “why me?”, is why not me? Am I more favored or more chosen than God’s other children? Does He not love us all? And if I get through it wiser, stronger, and with my faith still in tact, will he not give me even more faith, more wisdom? To those who are faithful with much, more will be given. To those who are faithless with what little they have, even that will be taken away.

    If we cannot get through the bad times, how will we know how truly great the faith handed down to us actually is? If we believers are spared every little thing, how can we be a witness to how great our God is?

    Some of the above things were bad things done to me by others. Some were a result of naivety and wishful thinking on my part (while stoically ignoring my screaming gut instinct). And others were just the way it is. We live in a far from nice world and it is beset with evil and darkness as a result of that fall so long ago. It is foolish to think that our lives will be positive because we are positive. We set ourselves up for great disappointment when we choose to be the simple optimist. I’d rather look reality square in the face and know what’s coming.

  11. Kathy

    Today is a hard day, and I’m not sure why. I just want to cry — I want to cry because I miss my husband and because his parents and siblings are Ns who were just always so cruel to me and my daughters. I want to cry because of the abuse that’s been done against the people here — by parents (!!!!), co-workers, spouses, pastors, “friends.” There is just so much evil in this world, from the people who neglect their children, beat their wives, spread falsehoods about others, to those who shoot down planes and hide behind and/or bomb civilians, to those who kidnap little girls going to school. How long, Lord? How long??
    Until then, pour your grace upon children. Please.

    • Penny

      Me too, Kathy, me too. some days I just say “I’m listening for the trumpet” b/c I wonder how much longer so much wrong can continue. Hugs…..

      • Kathy

        Thank you so much, Penny. There is a lot of comfort in knowing someone else says “me too.” Hugs….

  12. George Smith

    wow dave you write so well, and you have the right answers at the right time . been struggling with alot of things and your post is spot on .

  13. Susan

    I agree that God does not send difficulty in the lives of His own to hurt them, but I would add these words from Scripture: “But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10)

    All of the saints I see in Scripture suffered – greatly. I take comfort in the verse: “My aim is to know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.” (Philippians 3:10)

    We suffer, but we grow. I know the Lord has grown me as He leads me through this wretched trial of marriage to a narcissist – an insidious liar, manipulator, deceiver, accuser, and much more. But I remain because, as for me, the Lord has not released or delivered me. I don’t judge another’s situation because they don’t answer to me, they answer to the Lord and I know not what He is doing in their lives. Only mine.

    He is using this trial in my life to teach me about forgiveness (and how intricately entwined with repentance it is – meaning I don’t know if I’m to forgive my husband these offenses – I do know I am learning from them – how pressed into my Lord and conformed into His likeness I am to become), about pain, about suffering, about love, about empathy, about pain, about abiding in Jesus, about holding firm to my first love (Revelation 2:4). I am grateful to the Lord for all of it, even the pain, because this is the trial that He has me in. Do I like and enjoy it? Well, not in the cultural easily understood sense of enjoy – no. Do I have joy in spite of it? Yes. I believe I do. Because my Lord is here in the fire with me. My joy is in Him, and nothing – no nothing nor no-one – can separate Him from me.

  14. Karen

    Thank you for this. I know a lot of it, but it helps to put it into words. My Daddy is here, holding me, and has carried me through so much already. He is faithful 🙂

  15. Susan McAllister

    I want to express how incredibly helpful your articles are! This is the only resource I have found like this. You share such insight based on Scripture. I often wonder as I read, “How does he know these things? He’s describing my life!” Please continue as you can and know that God is using your articles to impact many lives in ways that we desperately need. (I have wanted to reply to your articles may times, but did not know how to send a “reply” to you instead of a “comment” that would be on the website. I hope this works:) Thank you, thank you. May God continue to bless you, Susan

  16. Dave

    What can really be a painful and raw “kick in the teeth” is when pain and abuse comes from another brother or sister in the faith. I know and understand that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6), but this type of abuse and wrong doing seems to be, at least for me, the most painful.

  17. Trying to cope

    Dave you really sum it up there “a kick in the teeth”. For me it is from someone I put my faith in. I wish it were flesh and blood, that I can handle. This emotional battle, covert behavior makes me feel crazy, lonely, betrayed, used, unloved, unfriended, … You get the idea. Betrayed stands out. For someone to get your trust and then just give you a good kick. Over and over, day in and day out. Shun, ignore, try to make me jealous, smile, then repeat!! I can’t scream and shout because I’m at work. I almost wish I was married to him, just so I could give him a good piece of my mind. And my every waking hour is consumed with why me? I have read, studied and been counciled here but nothing prepares me when it starts all over the next day. I am convinced my N has special military training in the art of breaking a persons soul. He is good. Not once have I questioned God’s role in this. It never occured to me. No this is the devils work. Trying to cope…soon to be barely coping At the pace I’m going 😦

    • Dave

      You are in my thoughts and prayers, dear brother. I am sorry that you are hurting 😦 As the enemy is primarily involved in these hellish encounters, and he has far more intelligence then all of us, we can only place our hope in the grace of God that is readily available and despite the pain that these people cause us, continue to believe that some how our Lord is working it all out for our good in the midst of all the pain.

      • Trying to cope

        It most definitely has caused me to dig deeper and be more, just to prove I am worthy, even if he doesn’t see it. If I wronged him, he should forgive me because if that were the case it is so trivial I can’t even imagine what it would have been. You see, I am big into blaming myself. I see your new Friday post and I am so anxious to see the comments. Not a post has went by that I did not utter why me. No one else is any better or worse than me. I am not the outcast at work, there is nothing special about me other than I looked to him for guidance.

  18. Susan

    Trying to cope,
    There is no answer to “why me.” You can ask and ask and ask and ask and ask and you’ll never ever get an answer to the “why me” because it’s not about you. It’s all about him. All about the narc. Never about the victim. Always about the narc.
    Perhaps when it finally does sink in (believe me, you’re not alone in having it take a loooong time to have it finally resonate) – when it does, you’ll probably find less motivation to expend so many brain cells on him and start spending them on yourself and others – and enjoy life again, like you used to.
    So so many of us get it. I get exactly where you are. It’s taken me about two years now to finally reach this stage – and all along there were various a-ha moments where I saw how everything I read about narcissism fit his actions and words (or lack thereof). And the more it resonated, the more I realized I want my life back. I want my focus on things and people who make me happy. I want to serve my Lord and not spend time focusing on his adversary. You will too. You have people (including myself) praying for you and you didn’t learn what you have without the Lord’s wisdom. He’s caring for you in revealing this. Ask Him for wisdom about it, and you will learn.

  19. M

    wow the first paragraph was as if someone was listening to my heart yesterday as I was being literary sick of the way by boyfriend is behaving, it was so selfish, so ill and very unstable. I think my faith has shattered ever since this abusive relationship started, the question that always struck me is why did god let me meet someone who hates me so much and make me love him so much? or should I say attached?
    am going to read the rest ,maybe it can help ..even though I’m scared that your explanation is not going to affect my circumstances and pain and I would just give up again. Its my choice after all ..to seek help or stay in this bubble of denial.

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