When events in our lives turn bad, it’s natural to strain our eyes looking for the cause(s). We blame others; we beat ourselves up; and sometimes we assume that since God is the Lord of the universe, it must have been he who brought down disaster on our heads.
A woman named Naomi once lost most of what mattered to her: she lost her home as famine drove her little family into exile, her husband died, and then both of her sons died. Her daughters-in-law tried to cheer her up, but she would have none of it: “No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me! Don’t call me Naomi (i.e., “pleasant”). . . . Call me Mara (i.e., “bitter”). . . . I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty . . . The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:13,20,21).
The poor woman added a fourth disaster to her life, i.e., assuming that her God had turned against her. Now—with divine revelation we can see that sometimes God does indeed send hardships into people’s lives. But without that clear scriptural analysis, we should never assume that God is the first cause of our pain. In fact, Scripture also tells us that God watches from heaven with a hurting heart at the evils our human rebellion has brought.
His mercy sets limits to our suffering. His mercy finds a way to turn evil into good.