April 27, 2011

Why did the Holocaust have to happen?

The question that has been asked for decades, undoubtedly even for centuries: why does God allow suffering, hardship, and things that seem to be horrific to come into our lives?

Why is there cancer? Why death? Why the Holocaust? What is the purpose for these things: does God in His love and mercy have to allow such painful, difficult things to occur?

Unfortunately, many people never find the answer to this question. Even as we read the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, a similar attitude of acerbic bitterness quite often seeps out of their writings. "After all," they say, "How could God allow six million of His 'Chosen People' to be senselessly murdered?"

I'm only twenty one, and I certainly don't have all of the answers. I didn't live through the Holocaust; I don't have cancer; I have so much to be thankful for. However, if we are going to answer this question, we must look to a standard, something that will provide a basis from which we can build our understanding. And what better to use than the Bible: God's Holy Word?

Job being counseled by his friends
God's Word does weigh in on this universal question about human suffering and trouble. Consider the life of Job. God allowed Satan to destroy Job's children, home, servants, and livestock (Job 1:13-2:8). Suddenly, poor Job is sitting in a pile of ashes, covered in painful boils, left with only his wife, and less his beloved children and a substantial livelihood! How could all of this happen? Doesn't it seem so unjust and unfair?

We might expect God to give Job a pretty good reason for all of this. Maybe we would assume that God will eventually speak to Job and give a good reason for why all these things happened. The answer we are kind of waiting for doesn't actually come for a while. Not until Job 38 does God give Job insight into the reasoning.

You will have to read Job 38 through 42 to get a full picture of God's response (and really the whole book), but I'll try to summarize. God asks Job a lot of questions: "where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" and "Did you give peacocks their beautiful feathers?" In other words, God's says that we cannot always understand what and why He does what He chooses to do! God used the terrible things that happened to Job for His (God's) glory and Job's benefit: look at Job 42. This in a nutshell is what we observe from Job's example.

He is not obligated to answer or please us: He is God! I asked someone about this. There response was, "If this [the fact that God owes us neither an explanation nor reasons for why He allows things] bothers us, we have both too low an opinion of Him and too high an opinion of ourselves."Reality is that this world is not about us. Many factors play into the causes of suffering, but the bottom line is that all of Creation exists to bring glory to God. God is always righteous in all of His actions. We are to trust Him and acknowledge this as fact about Him even when the circumstances seem to indicate otherwise. 

In closing, consider the words of the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon. In Ecclesiastes, another Bible book, Solomon says, 

"I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever:
nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it:
and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him."
Ecclesiastes 3:14

We'll have to finish up on this topic at a later date. Be thinking about it, feel free to comment, and check in later for some conclusions / applications!


  1. oh wow....this post is really good! Can't wait to read your future posts!
    By the way, did you know that D'Lacey won the Holocaust Essay Contest? She attended the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon. She liked it except for the fact that many of the young people there(especially the Jewish young people) were very liberal in their thinking. Sad..... :(

  2. Dad said love you Ben. Good job