Why when two equally good Christians pray for healing, why does one get healed and the other does not? Why when two serious followers of Jesus in a war zone pray for safety, is one spared and the other killed? When Jesus promised the Heavenly Father cares more for us than sparrows or lilies, why do Christians in Africa starve to death? I don't know. But then again do we really need to know?
These questions are natural and reasonable. In their asking, we're trying to figure out if God is really fair, or are these people I’ve described and perhaps us, just praying to the wind?
There are all kinds of examples in the Bible of large groups of people who suffered as a group for the sins of the many. I can't believe every Israelite who was bitten by snakes in the desert in Numbers 21 was guilty of grumbling against God. When Korah and Dathan rebelled against Moses in Numbers 16 his whole family was swallowed up into the earth as their punishment.
Just look around you. A man cheats on his wife and the whole family suffers for it. An alcoholic wife drives while under the influence and her innocent children are killed. Many Israelites who were sent into captivity in Babylon including Daniel, and his friends were righteous, God-fearing people. Yet they suffered deportation right along with those deserving it.
Decades ago, I tried prison ministry. I didn't like it. I'd sit with men who complained about the food, the guards and the lack of exercise equipment. And I'd drive away doing a slow burn. I would have liked to have said, "Are you kidding me? It costs us $32,000 a year to keep guys like you locked up and you bellyache about injustice? Here's a thought - don't commit a crime!" Obviously I had a lot to learn about grace.
Years later, when thinking about an injustice I was "suffering" it dawned on me that God might have the same attitude toward me, "Clare, are you kidding me? With all I've given you and done for you, you're still feeling sorry for yourself?" The truth was, I wasn't doing anything different than those prisoners. This world to God might be like a large prison where from our perspective life is terribly unfair but from God's he is unbelievably gracious and kind. Yet because we live in families, churches and nations, the sins of a few, or of our leaders can cause unbelievable suffering not because God always wills it, but he allows it.
When Job was starting to feel sorry for himself, God stopped him short and went on for whole chapters letting Job know in no uncertain words that Job didn't have a clue. When God was done with what he had to say Job said this;
"I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:2-3, 6
By faith we have to trust God that his ways are not our ways. My only responsibility is to make sure that other people's suffering is not because of my own sin, or my neglect of their needs. “Why God?”