Why does God not intervene?
Terrible things happen in the world!
I walked down the street in Essen, I think in the year 1937, when a boy of about 16 years came to meet me completely upset. Since I had finished my work with young people, I asked him: "What happened to you?». He answered me: "They dragged me to the hospital and sterilized me, because my mother is Jewish; when I entered the house, my parents had disappeared ". He never saw them again: the father was arrested, while the mother was taken to a concentration camp in Auschwitz! I could do nothing for him but help him escape to Holland, from here he then left to go to America. I will never forget that image of this upset young man: "They dragged me to the hospital and sterilized me, because my mother is Jewish; when you got home, my parents were missing!». Millions of these episodes could be told.
Faced with these things, it is natural to ask oneself: "And me?» – "Where is God?» – “He has nothing to say about that?» – «Because God doesn't intervene?».
In the city of Cologne, a madman broke into a public school with a flamethrower: 12 children burned by the fire!
Here too the question has to be asked: "And me?» – «Because God doesn't intervene?».
I think of a young cancer patient. Slowly, amid atrocious sufferings, he goes away from his children forever. Those who share such an experience will ask themselves: "And me?» – «Because God doesn't intervene?».
Many people, telling their story, in conclusion they might ask themselves: "And me?» – "Where was God?» – «Because God doesn't intervene?».
Thus modern man is often tempted to think that there is no longer a Father of love in heaven, not finding an answer to the questions: "Where is God?» – «Because it allows all this?» – “Because it does nothing to avoid all the terrible things we are witnessing today?». This sometimes leads to the point where this dangerous idea is born: “Maybe God doesn't exist! Maybe the sky is empty! Perhaps atheism is the truth!».
Dear friends, he to whom such thoughts come to mind should be terrified, because if there really was no God, that would be a terrible thing: men would be like animals, left to themselves!
We would all be like lost children who can no longer find their way home. God does not exist? It would be scary!
When someone declares to me: “I am an atheist!», I answer him: “You don't know what he's saying! Nothing above us?! Left to ourselves?! Left alone against each other?». For man nothing is more terrible than man, vero? A Latin proverb says: « one man, lupus », what does it mean: "A man is a wolf to another man" – terrible!
I don't know how many times, as a church leader, I have heard this sentence: “How can God allow all this? Because God remains mute?». Precisely these questions that have been asked to me so often, I would now like to try to answer.
But first I must make a premise: I am not God's private secretary, He has neither confided nor dictated his plans to me! Understand? In itself this question doesn't make much sense, because it is impossible to truly understand God. The God I can know would be my superior at most. I can get an idea of this, but I can never fully understand the true God.
In the Bible we read: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways " .
This is very significant.
I do have some biblical knowledge though and, based on these, I would now like to answer, as much as I can, to the question: «Because God doesn't intervene?».
1. the wrong way to ask the question
First I would like to say this: the question "Why does God not intervene?»Is set incorrectly. It is formulated, that is, as if we were in a court of law: instead of the judge sits Mrs Rossi or one of us and God is in the dock. Thus we pronounce the accusation: "Gave, how can you afford all this? Why don't you intervene?».
In all honesty I want to tell you: there is no God who will let us sit in the judge's place and accept to occupy the dock!
I remember a curious scene of which I was a spectator, when I was still a young preacher. I had 27 years and I had just come to Essen, when a big strike by miners broke out which heated people up a lot. One day, passing in front of a square, I saw a man standing on a chest, who spoke animatedly to the people around him. He spoke of children dying of hunger, of unjust wages, unemployment.
Suddenly he saw me, he recognized me and mumbled: «Ah, here is the priest! Come a little’ who!». I generally accept friendly invitations, then I went to that small group of people. The men let me pass so that I could join the speaker, there must have been hundreds of miners around me. I felt a little’ embarassed: at university I was not prepared to face such situations!
The speaker addressed me in these terms: "Listen, priest! If there is a God, which I'm not sure about but it might be true, then I would come, after my death, to introduce myself in front of him and tell him - and here he raised his tone of voice: “Because you allowed men to die heartbreakingly on the battlefields? Because you allowed children to starve, while others wasted food having plenty of it? Because you allowed a lot of men to be shot dead by cancer? Because? Because?”. I would then like to tell him: “You, It gave, get out! Get away from me! Via!”».
So the man shouted; then I started screaming too: "You are right! Away with this god! Away with this god!». Suddenly he calmed down, an expression of surprise appeared on his face, as he said: "One moment! You are a church leader, therefore you cannot shout: Away with this God!».
I answered him: "Listen! This god before whom you present yourself like this and utter similar words, this god who lets himself be called into question to such an extent that you make yourself a judge and he is accused by you, this god exists only in your imagination. I can tell him: Away with this god! Away with this silly god, that the men of today have built, that we can accuse, ignore or exploit according to the needs of the moment! Such a god does not exist! But I want to tell you that there is another God, the true one.
Before Him you will appear as accused and you will not even be able to open your mouth, because He will ask you: Because you didn't respect me? Why didn't you call on me? Because you lived in impurity? Because you lied? Why did you hate? Why did you fight? Why do you have…? He will ask you these questions and then you will no longer have the courage to speak! You won't be able to answer even one of these questions! There is no God to whom it can be said: Get away from me!
Another thing I would like to tell you: when you hear men blaming God: “How can God allow all this? Why does God not intervene?”, of’ their: “Only a miserable and imaginary God would allow himself to be accused by us! There is only one Holy God, who accuses us both!”».
You have obeyed God's laws? What do you believe? God takes his laws seriously: we are the accused, not God!
This is the first thing that, in all sincerity, I had to tell you: the very way of asking the question is fundamentally wrong. Now the second point.
2. God's silence is his judgment!
«Because God is silent?" It's true, God is often silent, and his silence is the most terrible condemnation of us! I am convinced that there is hell, but it certainly will not be as we sometimes imagine it, with the souls roasted by the devil or other infantile images of this kind.
I believe instead that hell is the situation in which God has nothing more to say to men! You can call him, you can pray, you can scream - it won't answer you anymore!
The Russian writer Dostoyewski once said: "Hell is that place where God no longer takes us into consideration" – and in which we are forever separated from Him, where we are truly abandoned by God. Yup, God's silence is the condemnation that He inflicts on us. You see, this is precisely the starting point of hell: God does not answer!
On this I would still like to tell you a story from the Bible: There were two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, very advanced cities, with a refined civilization. God was not denied (there were also, probably, a couple of priests), they just didn't take Him seriously. On the occasion of weddings or funerals, perhaps the good Lord was remembered, but in general they didn't care much about Him and all His laws were trampled underfoot.
A pious man named Lot lived in Sodom, who often said: «You cannot treat God like that! Don't be fooled, God does not let himself be fooled! What man sows, that will collect!». «Ah!», people answered, 'Don't talk nonsense! You are not even a priest! Stop saying these nonsense things: “What man sows, that will collect!”».
Then one day, at dawn, after bringing Lot out, God rained fire and brimstone on the city. How this can be, we saw it during the atomic war, but God can do it even without the need for planes. I can imagine the inhabitants being forced to rush out of bed screaming: "In the basement!». They run into the cellar and find it hot as an oven. They do not resist. Here's another cry: "We have to go out!». They rush out, but fire and brimstone fall everywhere. They no longer know what to do: they cannot go out, but in the cellar they suffocate.
Then I made another image, which is not taken from Scripture. A group of people including a girl, who until then had regarded God as a good man, and an elderly gentleman, fine connoisseur of all brands of wine, who, around you, he had nothing against the good Lord, but it was quite indifferent to him. These types of people were there, together, in the basement: honest men, common people, good citizens; but they all had their dark secrets, as happens also today for every man.
In the cellar it is getting hotter and warmer. They would like to get out, but they cannot because the scourge is breaking down furiously. Terror invades them. Suddenly the elderly gentleman says: “Lot was right: God is truly alive!», and the girl says: "We still have only one hope: we must pray! So who wants to pray?». Then they turn to heaven with their hands raised - at that time it was prayed like this - those hands that had never done so before. And here comes this cry: «Sir, have mercy on us! We have sinned! We didn't listen to you! But now stop!
You are always the good Lord, you are certainly merciful! lord, have mercy on us!». Then silence! The crackle of the fire is heard. Then the arms fall and the hands that were first stretched upwards clench into fists: "Gave, Why do not you answer?». Still silence! Only the sound of the fire is heard. Now they can pray or blaspheme, God no longer answers! There is a limit, that a man or a city or a people cannot overcome, a limit of indifference towards the living God. From that point forward, God does not listen and no longer responds!
Understand now that this silence on Sodom was God's most terrible condemnation? God had nothing more to say to them! For this, when I see a people who are completely indifferent to God's truth, towards His laws and towards His salvation, I am full of horror. Perhaps they are already living this experience now: they can pray or blaspheme, God has nothing more to say!
In the Bible God says: « I called you, and you have not answered ». Because you, or man, you do not answer, when God calls you? therefore: silence is the most terrible condemnation from God!
The third judgment is this.
3. The great distance prevents listening
When we have the feeling that God is not responding, it may be because we are too far from him!
A short time ago a young man came to me and told me: “Mr. Busch, she makes me nervous, always talking about God. If I meet her on the street, begins to talk to me about God. I don't feel God, I do not see it. How then does this God speak? I don't feel anything!». I answered him then: “You know the story of the prodigal son?». "More or less!He replied. "I want to tell you how Jesus himself told it.
There was a rich landowner who had two sons, one of which was some’ rebellious and at home he was not very happy, that environment was not suitable for him. One day he introduced himself to his father saying: “Old, give me my share of the goods, I want to leave and go far!”. His father granted it to him and the young man left. It is written about him in the Bible: “It dissipated its substance”.
You can imagine yourself, in big cities there are a thousand opportunities to spend money. Just when he had spent it all, a famine and an occupation crisis ensued. He was thus increasingly in need and ended up going to herd swine. Because in Israel, pigs were considered unclean animals, for an Israelite to do this work was one of the most repugnant things. however, as famine raged, the young man was happy to be able to eat the carob beans destined for pigs. There he could no longer hear his father's voice, simply because there was too much distance between them. The lost son could well say: “I don't hear my father's voice”. It is logical that he did not hear it!
Let me open a parenthesis and picture the story not quite as it is presented in the Bible. The young man who has run away from home sits among the pigs and accuses his father in his discontent: “How can he allow me to find myself in such pitiful condition?!”. This is how today's world appears to me: he abandoned God, falling more and more into evil, and now he screams: “How can God allow all this? Why does God not intervene?”.
Of course, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son in another way: at some point in his life, the boy came to his senses and thought: “I am a fool! In my father's house there is plenty of bread, and here I am dying of hunger. I will wake up, I will go to my father and tell him: “Father, I sinned”. Then he got up and went back!
The father saw him from afar, ran to meet him, but the son said: “Father, I sinned!”. For all answer, his father embraced him and ordered the servants: “Bring your most beautiful dress here and dress it up, put the ring on his finger and the shoes on his feet!”».
Now he can hear his father's voice!
“If you can't hear God's voice, it means that you are too far from him! You must repent, you know it well!», I said, finally, to that young man.
Men can be very far from God. I was well aware of this at the time I was a second lieutenant during World War I and had no relationship with God; but I always thought: «I should really convert!».
I have never met a man who hasn't really thought about it, within himself: “I should change!». The virtuous woman says: “I'm fine!», but if I stop to talk to her, my say: "Yup, actually i know i should change! There are many faults in my life. My heart is unclean!». Each of us knows we should repent. Why don't we do it? Change course! Then you too will hear the voice of the Father!
Let us now move on to another point relating to the question “Why does God not intervene?».
4. We must listen to the last Word of God!
What I want to tell you now is the most important thing: if it seems to you that God does not answer, you have to listen to His last Word! I want, about this, quote a long sentence from the Bible, contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "Gave, after having many times in many ways anciently spoken to the fathers by means of the prophets, in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son ".
You know who the Son of God is? It's Jesus!
Here I return to my favorite theme. This Jesus is, as it is defined in the Bible, the Word of God incarnate: « The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us for a time ».
Try to understand: when we say a word, this one escapes immediately, like a breath. God made a word become flesh, in Jesus. Jesus is the last Word of God!
You know the expression "my last word"? Suppose I wanted to sell you a cow. How much is a cow worth? I do not know. Let's say EUR 350.00? You say: “For this cow I'd give you EUR 100.00, not more!». I reply: «Instead I ask for EUR 500.00!». You then offer CHF 200.00 and I, from me, I request it 400.00. We continue to negotiate, as long as I declare: «So, 300.00 is my last word!». If I'm a man of my word, with this the negotiations are concluded: there is nothing more to add!
Jesus is the last Word of God! If you don't receive it, God has nothing more to say to you. Understand? When men complain: «God does not speak! Because God doesn't answer?», I reply: «God has nothing more to say to you, if you don't want to accept his last Word!»You can receive Jesus! You have to receive Jesus! There is nothing else to do!
I often meet people who tell me: "I too believe in the good Lord. But Jesus?». Listen: Jesus is the last Word of God made flesh for us! I will explain better the meaning of this sentence by talking to you a little’ of Jesus, which I always do very willingly!
Jesus is in the midst of a crowd, and he's talking. Suddenly, a strange movement is heard behind him. People start talking and running. Jesus interrupts his speech and asks: “What is going on?». Something terrible was happening: a leper had arrived. Leprosy is a disease that causes the progressive putrefaction of a body that is still alive. It's awful: the infection attacks and devours the ears, the nose, lips. This disease, Furthermore, it is so contagious that it even spreads through the breath. For this reason the lepers had to live in isolation, they could not join the other men.
And now just one of these lepers arrives in the crowd! He has heard of Jesus, and was driven by a great desire to see it. That is why he came among the people who begin to back away shouting: "Get out! Get out of here!». They throw stones at him, but he does not let himself be discouraged. I almost seem to see it, as he makes his way through the frightened crowd and advances until he reaches Jesus. Came in front of him, falls to his knees and, crying out, she reveals all her misery to him: “My life is destroyed, lost! Jesus, if you want, you can heal me. Help me!».
You see, the disfigured human personality must come in contact with the Savior, the son of God! So it must be: our misery must be placed in front of Jesus! I sincerely hope that you will shake off that superficial layer of "religiosity" and present yourself to Him in all your misery.
Let us now return to the leper who begs for Jesus: "If you want, you can heal me!». At this point something happens that I think is truly wonderful. I might think that Jesus takes a step back at the sight of that incredibly disfigured human figure and says: "All right. Get up! Be healed!». But he doesn't behave like that. Jesus approaches the leper and places his hand on that sick head. People exclaim in horror: «You must not have contact with a leper!». The Bible tells: "And Jesus touched him".
Nothing is too impure for the Savior! No misery is incurable for Him! He places His hand on it! If I were a painter, I would like to paint just that: the hand of Jesus on the mangled face of that leper. This is Jesus, the miracle of all time! And if now there is someone here who has been abandoned and pushed away by everyone, Jesus places His hand on him and says: «I have redeemed you, I want you to be mine!». If there is someone else who is tormented because he feels he is a great sinner, Jesus places His hand on him and says: «Be healed!».
In Jesus all of God's love reaches us, penetrating into our misery, in our sin, in our filth, in our disease! Jesus is the Word of God incarnate! Yet still people wonder: «Because God doesn't intervene?». Hasn't God already spoken clearly and powerfully enough? All this is perhaps not an expression of God?
This Jesus is then nailed to a cross, raised amidst a threatening crowd that is held in check by the Roman guards.
Come, let's join this crowd, let us also go under the cross! Watch it, the Man of Golgotha! That face full of wounds and pain, that despised head on which it was placed, as a sign of derision, a crown of thorns! Watch it! Ask him: “Because you are hanging there?». He will answer you: «Because you are guilty towards God. You will have to pay this offense in hell, or I have to pay it here in your place. Someone has to pay! I want to do this for you. Just have faith!».
Dear friends, when i, at a young age, I understood that Jesus is the sacrificed Lamb, which bears the sins of the world - mine too, because Jesus cancels my guilt, pay the ransom to reconcile me with God - then I placed my heart under the cross and said: “Who else should I trust, o King who dies on the cross? I offer you my life here, my whole heart overflows ".
Jesus is then placed in a tomb, closed by a large stone. Some Roman soldiers are placed on guard. At dawn on the third day, there is a strong light, powerful enough to cause the guards to faint. As a last act, we witness the resurrection of Jesus in glory!
I am not telling a fairytale, I say these things because I know that Jesus rose from the dead. This Jesus, who died for you, now lives! There is no one for whom God did not die! He lives and calls you, proposing to you the last Word of God! Accepting it is decisive for your life!
«Because God doesn't answer?». God answers instead, Dear friends, and His Word is called «Jesus!And this means: love, grazia, mercy!
In my life I have spent terrible moments in Nazi prisons and in war. I remember one particularly distressing. I had to stifle a cry of horror when, during the war, I was led into a courtyard. Around me lay about 80 corpses. I had already seen images of such an atrocity on the battlefields of the First World War, but this was more horrendous. Here the dead were not soldiers, but elderly, women and children; children, whose little bodies bore the marks of the long war. Children! What did they have to do with that stupid war? While I was standing there, in the midst of all those corpses, only in that greyness, only in that silence of death, at one point I cried out in my heart: "Gave, where are you? Why don't you do anything?». Then I remembered this biblical verse: «God loved the world so much, who gave his only begotten son " .
God himself must have inspired this verse in just that state of despair. Then suddenly the cross of Golgotha appeared before me, upon which God Himself let His Son die, for us.
I don't understand God. I don't understand why God allows all these things; but there is a sign, a monument, a beacon of his love, and it is the cross of Jesus.
«He who did not spare His own Son, but he gave it for all of us, as He will not give us everything else with Him?» , says the apostle Paul.
And so when under the cross of Jesus I find peace with God, I have no more questions to ask. When my children were small, they didn't always understand what I was doing, but they trusted: “Dad will do everything right!». When under the cross of Jesus I find peace with God and become his son, I too can trust my Heavenly Father: He does everything right.
Then I have no more questions to ask. Everything is about accepting and receiving Jesus, the last Word of God!
If God gave the explanation about the death of Jesus, then there is also a reason for so many apparently inexplicable events. Maybe I don't know them, but I am consoled that God knows all the reasons. He in His Sovereignty always acts with justice, sometimes anticipating a judgment or a definitive salvation.
Part with! It is we who in the darkness of our rebellion are wrapped in our contradictions, as we try to shift our responsibilities onto God we do not know.
5. God's silence can be a reminder
You see, one can argue for hours about why God allows this or that, but the question becomes truly important only when it concerns us personally. Do not you think? In all the difficulties of my life I have always referred to the cross of Jesus.
Recently a young woman told me desperate: “I can no longer live on!». I don't know what situation you are in, but about the problems in your life I want to tell you: it is useless to ask ourselves «Why? Because? Because?», we must rather ask ourselves: "For what purpose?». In this regard, I would like to tell you one last story.
When I was a preacher in a mining district, a few decades ago, I found myself in very difficult situations. One day I learned that a miner had been in an accident in the mine. A stone hit him on the back and he was paralyzed, with no hope of improvement.
Terrible! I went to see him, but that visit was the most terrible I have ever experienced. The room was full of miners and the paralyzed man was sitting in a wheelchair. As soon as I entered, he cried out: "You, ugly crow, stay out! Where then was your God, when the stone fell on me? Because God does not intervene in these cases?». Then came the blasphemies. It was like being in hell. I couldn't say anything and left.
Among the miners in my neighborhood I had a couple of friends to whom I told about my visit, on the occasion of our periodic meeting. One week later, just as I was about to start the usual meeting, the door swung open and the wheelchair with that paralyzed miner was brought into the room. The mining friends had simply picked him up and brought him to our meeting, without asking him many questions.
So he took his place in front of me. I started talking about the verse: "God so loved the world", it does not mean that everything will be fine, but "who gave His Son". I talked about Jesus, the last Word of God, that we must listen to, then I continued with the verse: « …so that whoever believes in him may not die ». The man was listening, for the first time he heard about Jesus! Suddenly he received the "light". In short, four months later it belonged to the Lord Jesus.
It's amazing how everything changed in him. His apartment changed appearance, it became very orderly. Was, where before only blasphemies were heard, now songs rang out to Jesus. Old friends were abandoned and others came in their place. A Bible was placed on the table. His wife and children began to live again.
We became good friends and, shortly before his death, I went to see him one last time. It was an unforgettable visit.
"Friend", I asked him, "how are you?». «Oh!», he said, «Since my life belongs to Jesus, since I have the forgiveness of sins, since I am a child of God, at my home…" – he remained thoughtful for a moment, then he continued: "Every day is like Christmas Eve". This is a beautiful expression, by a miner, vero? Then he said something I'll never forget.
It started like this: «Busch! I'm dying, I feel. I will thus pass through the door and present myself before God. It is quite clear to me that death is not an end. And when, in the afterlife, I will appear before the throne of God, I want to fall on my knees at His feet and thank Him for breaking my spine ".
I interrupted him puzzled: "What do you say?». He replied: “I know what I'm saying. If this didn't happen, if God had let me continue in my sin, I would have fallen to hell, in an eternal perdition. In His immense love, God therefore had to hit me so hard that he broke my spine so that I could meet His Son, Jesus. Through Jesus I became a happy child of God. For this I want to thank him so much!».
Then he uttered a sentence, that has remained indelibly impressed on me: “It is better to belong to Jesus and to be a paralyzed child of God, rather than going to hell with healthy legs!». I added: "My dear friend! You see, God has sent you a terrible test. At first you said with anger: “Where was God then? Why does God not intervene?”. Now, instead, you understood for what purpose God sent you this: he wanted to lead you to Jesus so that he could bring you to him!».