My sweet grad-school friend, Hallie, is an interior designer in Houston. I’ve been checking in with her, thankful that she was one of the lucky ones. Her home was spared from the flooding. While stuck in her house for days, she painted and sold her work to help those that were impacted.
After I showed Hannah that watercolor of Texas above (a friend of my friend painted) on Instagram and explained how I knew some people selling artwork and donating the money to the hurricane relief effort, she wanted to create our own versions to sell. She is so sweet and compassionate, and has a heart of gold.
While I tried to explain that I don’t think we would be as successful selling our versions, I thought why not? We could at least paint them and maybe mail them to people we know in Texas.
And so we took out our supplies and set to work. Hers is the pretty pink and purple one.
I love to work by her side…
Last Tuesday night the boys were at Cub Scouts, so it was just Hannah and me after dinner. We had some time before bed and were going to watch a show, but then I decided it would be best if I turn on the hurricane coverage. As a family we had talked about what happened in Texas but, as a kid, sometimes the magnitude of an event is hard to grasp through words alone. Pictures and videos, on the other hand, make things seem a lot more real. And they certainly did with Hannah.
She saw countless homes submerged, photos of people and pets being rescued, mommas holding their children above the floodwater, shelters filled with people, and other portrayals of the devastation. It brought her to tears, sad for all these people but also confused at how this kind of thing could happen. Which is what she asked me…
“Why did God do that?”
Honey, God didn’t do that. But He did allow it to happen.
“Why is He allowing it to happen then?”
I don’t know…That’s hard.
We were soon interrupted, but I have not forgotten that short exchange. And I believe I can and should give her a more complete answer. Yes, “I don’t know…That’s hard.” is still true. But there’s more to it than that, more she needs to understand. Truthfully, more that I need to understand. While there is much I’ll never comprehend this side of heaven, I can share with her what I do know.
I can start with this…
My sweet girl, I was right when I said I don’t know why God allowed that to happen in Texas. But here’s what I do know…
God created this whole world and everything in it, and in the Bible it says all He created was “good”. It was perfect in fact. But then sin came into the world, through Satan, and it was no longer just good; there was evil, too. Ever since, people have had to suffer.
A lot of times bad things happen because they are caused by people. God gives us free will, which means we have a choice in what we do. Because of this, people make wrong choices. Sometimes, people have a lot of evil in their hearts and make very bad choices, hurting themselves and others.
Natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes happen, too. God can certainly cause these things, and we know that in the Bible God has punished people in this way, but that is not always the reason why they occur. He could have stopped the hurricane from hitting Texas, just like he could have stopped many sad events. Sometimes He does stop things from happening. But other times He doesn’t.
Bad things happen. We won’t ever fully understand why, but nothing happens outside of God’s control. Our enemy is Satan, and He is powerful. But not as powerful as God. He is in charge. We have to trust Him. We have to believe that, while we don’t know the reason why something happens, God knows why. He has all the answers. And we are not supposed to understand how it all works.
It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to be upset and cry out to God. He wants us to come to Him when we are angry and confused as well as when we are happy and thankful. He wants us to talk to Him about everything. He knows what’s inside our hearts and loves us no matter what.
We are not meant to understand the reason for bad things, we could never fully understand why God allows bad things – or causes good things – to happen.
We know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). God is good. If He allows something bad to happen, then you can bet He is going to bring good out of it. We don’t know when that will be, or what that will look like, but we can trust that, for those who love Him, He’s got a good plan in place.
We are to show God’s love every chance we get. When we can help, we should help. When we can give, money or clothes or food or whatever, we should give.
God saved us from all the sin and bad in the world through His son. Jesus never sinned, but He died for all of our sins, all the sins of the world, so that we wouldn’t have to. When our bodies die, we get to be with Him forever in heaven. That’s His wonderful rescue plan we read about in your Bible storybook.
We don’t know how long our bodies will be alive, but we do know that our time on this earth is short compared to our time with Jesus in eternity. This is our home just for a little while. There will be things that are sad and painful, and there will be tears, but not in heaven.
Instead of wondering why God allowed the tragedy in Texas, we can focus on seeing the good that has come out of it…prayers that have been answered, people coming together to help one another, all of the goodness and kindness and generosity shown. We can also remember what really matters and what’s really important.
It’s ok if we don’t understand why things happen. We were never meant to. We are meant to trust that God has a plan for everything and everyone, and that He knows what’s best for us. We were created by Him and for Him. We are to love and live out that love every day we are given, trusting in Him all the way.
Maybe you, too, have children who have been asking questions. Sometimes those questions are super hard, aren’t they? It is my hope that, as parents, we will lean on the One who has all the answers. I know, everyday, I pray for wisdom, for discernment in knowing how to best care for them. That I would model that faith, that trust in God. The Bible storybook I referred to is The Jesus Storybook Bible and is our absolute favorite. We have read through it many times.
I hope you find encouragement from this post as well. I’d love to hear about it if so. Leave a comment!
Texas, our prayers continue to be with you.
Updated to include this artwork Joseph did and gave to me on Monday night: