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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
May 27, 2018
When Tragedy Strikes – Kenneth Steier
This morning I was going to return to our study of the life of Christ, however, in view of the tragic death of Kenny Steier on Thursday evening, I thought it best that today we deal with some of the hard questions that arise when such a tragedy happens. The shock of the news numbs our minds and it is hard to even comprehend it. We question that the news is even true. We can’t believe it. We don’t want to believe it. We want Kenny to walk through the door and sit where he usually does. We want to hear his voice again, listen to another pun and see him smile. Our desires cry out that it cannot be true, yet, it is.
Often the shock prevents an emotional reaction when the news is first heard, then as the mind does start to comprehend and reality begins to be realized, the flood of emotions start to come followed by all sorts of questions which often fuel the emotions even more. What happened? How could this happen? Why did this happen? Why did this happen now?
As the mind regains control to try to make sense of what has occurred, some of those questions are answered. What happened and how did it happen are usually the easiest. In this case, Kenny went hiking with his friends, Jeff and Frank. Kenny wanted to do some rock climbing, and after he had gotten fairly high, a hand hold gave way causing him to fall to his death. It was sudden. It was unexpected. It was tragic. The mind can gain a grasp of those facts, but the other questions, the why questions, are harder to answer for they remain clouded with emotion and may not have a clear answer this side of eternity. But they are real questions and they need real answers. I want to address them this morning.
The Opportunity of Why?
The why questions are important because they are often the first serious step in the quest for truth, and truth is key in understanding reality and eternity. Most people do not like the answers of truth to their deep questions, so they avoid those questions in order to escape reality and live in some philosophical fantasy that is more pleasing to themselves. Tragedy strips away the fantasy and forces us back into facing reality for at least a few minutes. Death is reality, but it is a reality that we are usually numb to due to it being a constant story in news reports and a common part of stories that entertain us. It is when someone that when we personally know and love dies in such an unexpected way as did Kenny that we are shocked back into considering those questions of why, at least for a little while. Why did a man so young die? Why such a man who was characterized by integrity, humility, kindness, gentleness and compassion? Why a man that was so thoughtful and helpful to others? Why such a man that was a joy to have around with humor and wit? We question what God is doing? Why not take one of the many scoundrels around that cause no end of pain to others by their selfishness and evil actions? It is those questions of why that force us to try to understand the bigger picture, to begin to comprehend life from God’s perspective.
I recall a friend of mine whose spiritual journey to truth began with the tragic death of a friend in a car accident. Some of you are familiar with his story because you either knew Ray Marchetti yourself, or you have read about him in the tract we produced about his life entitled, “Where is Ray?” In his own words commenting about his reaction, “He left behind 3 young boys and wife helpless. I was so mad at God. How could He take my friend from them and me? That is when I began to ask questions.” Prior to this, Ray did not have much interest in religion. He knew there was a God and heard about Jesus, but he was largely indifferent. It took a tragedy to get him to even start asking the questions that eventually led him to faith in Jesus Christ.
Now at this point, I need to recognize that some people think it is blasphemous to ask God questions. However, the book of Habakkuk assures us that you may ask God questions. You may not like the answers you get because they might not fit your preconceived ideas about God or your personal desires for what He should do, but it is permissible and even be good to ask questions. Habakkuk was a prophet during King Josiah’s reign which was near the end of the Judean kingdom. In answer to Habakkuk’s prayer concerning the wickedness he saw in his nation, the Lord revealed He was going to raise up the Chaldeans to punish Judah. This shocked Habakkuk.
In Habakkuk 1:13, the prophet recounts what he understands about the nature of God and then begins a series of questions. “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?” Habakkuk recognized the sin of his own people, but he considered the Chaldeans far worse. How then could a good God tolerate such evil much less use such wicked people for His own purpose? Or if we can expand that to the more common and broad form of its expression, how can God, who is good, allow bad things to happen to good people. Why let a good man like Kenny die?
Some will point to Isaiah 45:9 or Romans 9:20 and say that the clay should not question the potter, “What are you doing?” From that has come the idea that it is wrong to ask questions of God. Yet, we find Habakkuk asks tough questions and is not rebuked for it. Therefore it is important at this point to note the nature of what Habakkuk is after. It is very different from both Isaiah 45 and Romans 9 which both have the questions asked in a context of rebellion in which the questions are challenges against God.
In Habakkuk 2:1 the prophet says, “I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved.” Habakkuk was not challenging what God was doing. He simply wanted to understand it. He longed for God to reveal to him what was needed to make sense of what he did not understand. He was well aware that something was wrong in his thinking which is why he was actually looking forward to God reproving or correcting him.
There is a huge difference between asking God questions and questioning God. One comes to God in humility desiring to understand how to reconcile what they know is true about God’s character with the realities of life they are experiencing. The other is not really a question in the sense of inquiry desiring to gain additional information, but rather a challenge that objects to what God is doing. Asking God questions is founded in humility while questioning God is founded in pride.
The latter is evil for it is blasphemy to accuse God of evil. Psalm 5:4 states, “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You.” It is wrong to falsely accuse anyone, so it is proper to correct someone who is doing that, but remember that according to 2 Timothy 2:25-26 we are to be gentle in correcting people, even those in opposition, with the hope that God will grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth and escape the snare of the devil. And when someone is making such accusations in the midst of their despair, then we need to be even more gentle. How do you do that? By pointing them back to the questions that underlie the accusations and assure them that it is okay to ask God questions.
One of the great opportunities we have is the fact that our God, the sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient Creator welcomes those who desire to know Him. The idea of going to God to inquire of Him or to seek Him occurs throughout the Old Testament. That was often done trying to discern the Lord’s will, but it was also done in just trying to understand God. As Psalm 27:4 puts it, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple” (NKJV). The Lord desires us to seek Him out and understand Him. He even promises that those who seek Him will find Him when they search with all their heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
The Patience of God
It is good news that God desires us to seek Him out and even ask questions that we might understand Him, but there immediately arises a serious problem. There is no one that will do that on their own. Romans 3:11 declares, “There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God.” At first glance this problem would seem insurmountable. How can anyone enjoy the privilege of asking God questions and gain knowledge and understanding of Him if no one actually seeks for Him? The answer actually answers an additional related dilemma that no one starts out in humility asking questions of God. People start out in pride questioning God and challenging what He does according to their own values of what they think is right and what they want.
I already mentioned in Ray’s testimony that he was mad at God over his friend’s tragic death. Ray was finally asking questions, but he was not actually seeking God yet. His plan was to go to psychics until his sister-in-law gave him an appropriate and loving rebuke to turn God. That brings us again to the incredible nature of the sovereign God, Creator of heaven and earth. He is also loving and incredibly patient and longsuffering. As Psalm 86:15 declares, “But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.” It is because of these attributes that God does not judge and condemn us immediately. As Psalm 103:10 expresses it, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”
Being mad at God, blaming Him for the bad things that happen and challenging what He does do only adds more sin to the great catalog of sins for which an individual is already guilty. Yet, God in patience and mercy, withholds the just punishment in order to call us to repentance. The apostle Paul expressed it this way in Acts 17:30-31, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” God is merciful and patient, but man must repent of His sin and rebellion against God. Too often man takes God’s patience for granted instead of recognizing that it, along with his kindness and tolerance, should lead to repentance as stated in Romans 2:4. It was not until Ray repented of his sin, that is, he changed his mind about being good and recognized he had been rebellious and disobedient toward God, that he actually started seeking God. His questions changed from accusations to inquiry, from blaming God to striving to understand life from God’s perspective.
The same was also true for Kenny. Though he grew up in church and was considered a good boy, in his own testimony, Kenny said he was like the Pharisees being very prideful. It was not until college that he clearly saw that he was “a depraved wretch just like everyone else.” The result was that he sought the Lord “more ardently than ever before” with a changed attitude towards Christ in desiring to know Him and live for His glory as a sinner saved by His grace.
That is the foundation for understanding the answers to the “why” questions that come upon us in this life. Without that humility, man’s pride will always cause him to reject the truth in defiance of even simple logic. An example of this is how often people blame God for the evil that occurs in this world and on that basis reject that He has any claim on their life or that he even exits. That is completely illogical. Whether God is good or evil has no relationship to whether He exists or is all powerful. In fact, if they thought God was responsible for all the evil that occurs in the world, then they should be even more afraid of Him and concerned to find a way to appease Him lest He bring evil upon them. God’s toleration of the existence of evil is not evidence of any weakness in Him, but an expression of His mercy and longsuffering which allows people the time to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:15 states that the patience of our Lord is to be regarded as salvation.
When a person is humble, then they rejoice in what God has revealed about Himself and His working in this cursed world. They recognize their sin, repent from it, and rejoice in the forgiveness God grants them based on faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He became the sin sacrifice, the substitute payment for us so that we might be redeemed, sanctified and adopted into God’s family. It is easier, therefore, for a Christian to properly ask God questions without reverting to the old sinful pattern of questioning God in the sense of a challenge and objection. But Christians do at times revert to those old habits, and the reality is that when someone like Kenny is killed in such a tragedy, it is easy to go back to a sinful mindset.
So the first thing that needs to be done in trying to answer the why questions is to be thankful that even when we ask improperly with wrong motives, God is patient, longsuffering and merciful to withhold the punishment we deserve for the blasphemy, and that He is also gracious and kind to work with us, even while in a sinful state, to come to the truth. Second, we need to humble ourselves before our Creator and honestly seek Him out with the desire to know Him and His will in the midst of our perplexity in trying to understand the events that occur around us and to us.
Why then does such a tragedy as Kenny’s death occur? Or again, in the more common phrasing, why do bad things happen to good people? There are actually many reasons. Some are easy to comprehend. Some are not and require an understanding of God’s perspective and faith. Let me begin with the bigger picture and then work toward some answers that may fit Kenny’s particular case.
First, going back to Habakkuk, people are not as good as we think they are. The tragedy that befalls them is actually God’s just punishment for their sin. This was what God revealed to Habakkuk. The prophet was at a loss to understand how a God too pure to approve evil could be silent when wicked people would swallow up those more righteous than themselves (Habakkuk 1:13). He humbly sought an answer to solve his dilemma. The answer was that God is against those who are proud and He brings upon them His wrath for their various sins. Chapter 2 points out the punishment He would bring upon those who practiced usury (vs. 6), looters (vs. 8), the greedy (vs. 9), murderers and the violent (vs. 12), voyeurs (vs. 15), and idolaters (vs. 18). Remember this all began with Habakkuk’s prayer concerning these same types of sins among his own people.
The reality is that God’s judgment is against all the wicked. Romans 1:18 describes this saying, “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . .” We are the ones that tend to try and separate people into various grades of evil and then twist that around to seeing those who are not as evil are somehow relatively good. Being less wicked in action does not equal being good in any sense. It is just for God in His sovereignty to allow the wicked to be an instrument of His wrath against other wicked people, though justice demands they also be punished.
To illustrate, if a serial killer slays a convicted murder, that is easily understood as an act of justice with the serial killer now under condemnation for the additional murder. If one con artist defrauds another con artist, no one weeps for him, though both are still liable for their lies and crimes. It seems just if one liar deceives another liar, unless of course you are the one who was lied to – but that illustrates the problem. We evaluate good and evil according to our own standards instead of God’s. To ask questions of God means to be humble and consider if what is being considered an evil is actually a just moral retribution upon someone that was actually wicked.
Second, we need to consider that many things that are tragic, in the sense that they bring extreme distress or sadness, are actually the result of the activities of an individual. If those activities include what is sinful or recklessness, then tragedy does not come as a surprise. For example, tragic events befall thrill seekers that engage in all sorts of risky sports and adventures because they place themselves in peril. It does not surprise us nor does it cause us to question God’s goodness if someone that wants to free swim with sharks gets bit or a bungee jumper gets broken bones or even kills himself. It also does not surprise us nor cause us to question God’s goodness when a drunkard gets cirrhosis of the liver or when a chain smoker gets lung cancer. Sin and risky behavior have consequences.
We need to remember that every one of us engages in risky behavior every day. When you cook, you expect to get burned once in awhile because you were not careful enough or some accident happens. Everyone that works with tools knows that sooner or later something will not go as planned and you will get hurt. The wrench pops off the nut, your aim is off with the hammer, the saw will kick back, the knife will slip. There is risk every time you get in a car. A moment’s inattention, an unexpected road condition, a mechanical failure can all quickly cause an accident. People do not tend to blame God when such things are minor, but it is a common reaction when something is tragic. To ask questions of God means to be humble and consider if what has occurred is the result of that person’s own actions or failure to act.
Related to this is taking God’s mercy for granted. I would expect each of us could identify something every day in which an accident or tragedy was avoided, and sometimes in such a way that it clearly demonstrates divine intervention. The Scriptures are full of such interventions by God into the lives of people. Most of us have been in situations where we can honestly say, “I should have died,” yet God in His mercy preserved our life. Should we presume upon God’s merciful intervention to the point that we blame Him for a tragedy because He choose not to intervene? The tornadoes that passed through here a couple of weeks ago did kill and injure some people, and that is tragic. At the same time, how many thousands of others were mercifully spared death or injury though they were just as exposed instead of being in a storm shelter.
Third, bad things happen to good people because other people do sinful things. One of the rules for the road that John Halpin gives to our young men as they get old enough to drive is, “drive as if everyone is out to kill you.” Sadly, many tragedies of all types are directly related to this truth, not just in automobile accidents, but in every act of crime and in war. God is often blamed for the actions of sinful people, and that is blasphemy.
God is neither the author of evil nor the cause of it. His very attributes such as holiness (1 Pet. 1:16; Isa. 6:1-7), righteousness (Acts 17:31; Gen. 18:25), love (1 John 4:8; Eph. 2:4-7), goodness (Mark 10:18; Acts 14:7; James 1:7) and truth (Jer. 17:3; Num. 23:19) preclude Him from being the origin of the antithesis of His own being. It is God’s sovereignty and righteous attributes that restrain evil and sin. Do not blame God for man’s intentional evil against other humans, and man has been doing that since Cain murdered Abel. Also, do not blame God for the unintentional consequences of the actions or failures of humans. Remember that sin is a failure to meet the perfect standard of righteousness. It does not have to include the intent to do evil.
To ask questions of God means to be humble and consider if what has occurred is the result of another person’s sin.
Fourth, tragedy happens because we live in a fallen world. Adam’s sin brought a curse upon the world as well as upon mankind.
Many disasters occur because nature is taking its course in following the laws of physics. Earthquakes and volcanoes occur when the pressures within the earth are released. Weather patterns develop because of the differences in the heating and cooling of the earth’s surface. Fire will spread as long as it has fuel, oxygen and heat. Most of the worst disasters that have ever occurred in the history of mankind have occurred simply because nature follows the laws of physics and man was in its path. Hurricanes will go through Florida. The mid-west will have tornado watches in the Spring. Blizzards occur in the North East. The Alaskan interior gets extremely cold in the winter. Houses built on a flood plain will get water in their living rooms occasionally. Volcanoes episodically erupt. Earthquakes shake things up.
There is also the reality that corruption occurs following the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Metals rust, wood rots, stone chips and breaks. Tragedies occur all the time due to mechanical failure as the materials they are built with stress, rust, rot and break.
To ask questions of God means to be humble and consider if what has occurred is due to living in a sin cursed world in which nature follows the laws of physics. Things break and natural disasters occur.
In a very real sense all of these things are natural causes of tragedy. Bad things happen to good people because A) they are not really good, B) the actions or failures of the individual himself, C) the actions or failures of others, D) we live in a fallen and sin cursed world. But there are two other causes of tragedy that are supernatural.
Satan is the first. The book of Job tells us that the devil does have power to bring havoc on man. His power is limited by God, but the devil is the source of many disasters. In the book of Job, we find that he is the instigator of theft, murder and even a supernatural wind that destroyed the house Job’s children were in resulting in their deaths. He was also the source of Job’s physical afflictions.
To ask questions of God means to be humble and consider if what has occurred is due to Satanic or demonic activity. However, we must be careful of the trap some have fallen into that blames nearly everything on Satan and the fallen angels that follow him (demons), for man and living in a sin cursed world cause a host of tragedies without any supernatural aide.
God is the last source of tragedy I want to discuss. In the Scriptures we find that the Lord Himself has struck individuals, entire nations, and even the whole world. Miriam grumbled against Moses and God struck her with leprosy. Korah rebelled against Moses and God had the earth swallow him and all those who joined in his rebellion. Egypt refused to let Israel go and God sent ten plagues against her and then destroyed her army. The Canaanite tribes allowed themselves to descend into debauchery and utter evil resulting in God destroying them in different ways to make way for Israel. The world Noah lived in had become so wicked that the Scripture describes mankind of that time by saying that “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God sent a flood that wiped out all of mankind except for the eight people God preserved on the Ark.
This actually brings us back to the first cause because all of these are God’s actions of judgment for sin. We must humbly consider if a tragedy may be the intervening hand of God in judgment.
But there is one final and extremely important answer to the question of why that we must acknowledge and seek to understand. It is the one that is the most difficult to understand for it does not give us clear answers in the present. I personally believe that this is at the heart of understanding Kenny’s death. A death which, I will admit, I have personally struggled. It is the eternal purpose of God.
The Eternal Purposes of God. What do I mean by that? God has purposes for us in this life that have much more to do with eternity that with the present reality of life on this earth. The eternal purpose of God has its hand in all the other reasons there is tragedy, not as the cause, but as something that works despite those causes and overcomes them to bring about something of eternal value – eventually a praise to our Creator.
The most clear example of this is the life and death of Jesus Christ. From the human standpoint, Jesus died an unjust death at the hands of the Romans at the instigation of sinful Jews. From the eternal standpoint, God was bringing about the demonstration of His love in paying the price to redeem man from sin. Even Jesus’ disciples did not understand this until after His resurrection.
We also see the veil pulled back on this in the book of Job. From the human standpoint, Job suffers unimaginable loss of wealth, family and health. From the eternal standpoint, we see the conflict between God and Satan through which God declares His own nature and glory and Job demonstrates his righteousness just as God had proclaimed.
We see it in the declaration of Joseph in Genesis 50:20. From the human standpoint, his brothers had acted with great wickedness which resulted in great suffering for Joseph. From the eternal standpoint, Joseph says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”(See: https://gracebibleny.org/evil_intent_gods_mercy_genesis_37_50)
From Joseph’s story we learn that it is rare to understand the eternal purpose of God in the present. It is often only seen as time goes by and His hand is seen in the consequences of the actions, including the ones that would be considered tragic. It is the reality of this truth that Paul declares in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” God is so powerful that He can bring about good from anything, including tragedy caused by evil.
This brings us back to Habakkuk 2:4, “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” Paul refers to this verse in Romans 1:16 saying the same thing. The “why” questions are eventually answered by faith in our Creator who is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth, forgiving and just (Exodus 34:6-7). Because of God’s character, I can trust that He will bring about His eternal purposes which will ultimately be good even when the events of the present are tragic and caused by sin, intentional or unintentional, living in this cursed world or by Satan himself. He has done so innumerable times in the past in ways that are very clear, so I can trust He will also do so when it is not so clear in the present. This is the life of faith. It is not a blind leap. It is a reasonable conclusion based on the trustworthiness of God.
My questions of why are resolved in knowing that my God sees things from an entirely different perspective than I may be able to even conceive. Psalm 116:15 states, “Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones.” From the human standpoint, death and suffering are always tragic. Not so from the eternal standpoint, for in the case of those who belong to God, He can use even death and suffering to bring about His glory and a blessing to that saint and others. If it were not so, Jesus could not say in Matthew 5:11–12, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus could not say in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Why did Kenny die in such a tragedy? Why have countless other believers died in similar or much worse tragedies such as missionary martyrs who left behind infant children? It is wrapped up in the eternal purposes of God. We have the privilege of asking our God questions which include, “Lord, why did Kenny die when and how He did?” Which is then followed up by the requests, “Lord, be gracious to reveal to us how you are glorifying yourself even through this tragedy,” and “Lord, draw us closer to yourself and give us greater understanding of Yourself and Your will even as You comfort us in the midst of our sorrow.”
This sermon has been an adaptation of the one I preached when my friend, Ray Marchetti, died in a tragic car accident 5 ½ years ago. I still miss Ray, and I still shed tears because of that. I know I will be doing the same in whatever years to come the Lord grants me in regards to Kenny. God used Ray’s death to glorify Himself in ways far beyond what I could have imagined. Many thousands have heard the gospel because of it, and we will be praising the Lord with many of them throughout eternity because of that. My prayer is that our gracious God will do the same with Kenny’s life, and from what I saw yesterday already posted on his facebook page, I believe that He is doing so already. God turns tragedy into glory giving eternal meaning to our lives on this earth, whether long or short.
Sermon Notes – 5/27/2018
When Tragedy Strikes – Selected Scriptures
The Opportunity of “Why?”
Asking why in the quest for truth begins a journey to understanding ___________
It is permissible, even good, to ask questions of _________ – Habakkuk
The prophet did not ______________ how God’s plans fit with His character (1:13)
He was striving to ____________ God, not challenging Him (2:1)
There is a huge difference between asking God questions & ______________ God
It is _______________ to accuse God of evil – Psalm 5:4
Be gentle in correcting even those in opposition in hope God will grant them ___________– 2 Tim. 2:25-26
God ______________ those that will seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13)
The Patience of God
Acts 17:30-31 –
Humility & Repentance are the _____________ for understanding the answer to the “why” questions.
First, Be _________________
Second, Be _________________
Why? People are not as good as you think
Habbakuk 2 –
We must evaluate good and evil according to God’s ______________, not our own
Why? Tragedies occur because of the results of the activities and failures of individuals
Why? People suffer because other people do sinful things – intentional or unintentional
Why? We live in a fallen and sin cursed world
Why? Satan and demonic activity – the book of Job
Why: The Eternal Purposes of God
Declared by ___________ – Genesis 50:20
Romans 8:28 – we ______________ consider what good God may bring about
Because of God’s character, I can __________ Him for what I do not know or understand
God’s perspective is vastly ____________from my own – Psalm 116:15, Matthew 5:11-12, John 16:33, etc.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “why” is used. 2) Discuss with your parents how to get answers to your questions about why God does things as He does.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. How do you react when you get tragic news? How long does it take for your emotions to emerge, and then for reason to direct adjusting to reality? Why do most people live in “some philosophical fantasy”? How does tragedy crack through the fantasy – at least for a little while? How does tragedy begin to get people to ask important questions about why God has allowed something to happen? How does the book of Habbakuk instruct us on how to properly ask God questions of why? How does that differ from the instructions of Isaiah 45:0 and Romans 9:20? How do humility and pride make the difference between asking God questions and questioning God? Why is it blasphemy to accuse God of evil? How should you deal with someone that is questioning God? If God welcomes people that will seek Him, why don’t people seek Him? What is necessary to get a person to seek God? How does pride block even logical thinking about God? Can any human be “good” by their own effort? Why or why not? What is the just punishment for sin? What is the relationship between personal actions or failures to act and tragedy? Why do people take God’s for granted? How have you seen God’s mercy in your own life? Can God be blamed for evil because He chooses not to extend mercy in a particular situation? What is the relationship between tragedy and the sinful actions of others? How do we know that God is not the author of evil or the cause of it? What is the relationship between living in a sin cursed world and tragedy? How does the Second Law of Thermodynamics reveal sins curse and what is its relationship to tragedy? What is the relationship between Satan and demons and tragedy? What limits his abilities and actions? Give examples of the Lord directly causing what is considered tragic. Why would God do such things? What is the relationship between the eternal purposes of God and tragedy? How have you seen God overcome tragedy to make it into a blessing? What do you think of these examples of God doing that – Jesus Christ, Job, Joseph? What is the relationship of faith in the midst of tragedy and trusting God to overcome and see blessing out of it? Why is it important to understand God’s perspective
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