Posted by: Randall Niles | June 28, 2012

Wildfires in Colorado – Questioning God in the Midst of Suffering

We are experiencing terrible and destructive wildfires here in Colorado. Many people are feeling singled out – alone – confused – scared.

Are you experiencing pain, suffering, or downright evil in your life?

Are you currently asking, “Why me?”

As you reflect on your situation, here’s a story that might provide some insight…

There was this guy named Augustine who was born in 354 AD. When he was 19, he read an essay by Cicero on the meaning of “truth,” and it was then and there that he dedicated himself to pursuing such an intriguing, yet illusive notion.

During his philosophical journey, Augustine experienced a great deal of pain and suffering in his life. He went through phases of severe depression and grief. If there was really a God, why was he witnessing things that appeared contrary to his character? Truth and evil seemed irreconcilable, so Augustine kept jumping from philosophy to philosophy for many years.

In his thirties, Augustine had a supernatural experience “as if a light of relief from all anxiety flooded into [his] heart.” It was then that “all the shadows of doubt were dispelled” and he accepted God as part of his life.

Although Augustine would become a great man of faith, he continued to struggle with the pain, suffering, and evil allowed by God in the world. He wrote:

“There is nothing that even the most gifted people desire more than to finally understand how, taking into account the amount of evil in this world, one can still believe that God cares about human affairs.”

Augustine grappled with this paradox for decades. He wrote volumes on God’s nature in scripture and God’s apparent desire for humanity. In the end, he determined that God created us for a relationship with him, and that real relationships are impossible with puppets. Apparently, God wanted us to have the capacity to freely choose or reject him, and this free will gave us the capacity to choose love or hate — good or evil. Indeed, this awful tradeoff even seems to apply to nature itself…

Before he died, Augustine concluded, “God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil at all.”

So, in light of terrible realities such as losing a home to a Colorado wildfire, you’re still asking “Why Me?”

Totally understandable. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. Anselm of Canterbury once used a phrase, “fides quaerens intellectum,” which means “faith seeking understanding.” One can only seek to grow in understanding by questioning…

However, sometimes the “Why” questions can only go so far – Sometimes these religious/philosophical/emotional thoughts leave us hanging for real answers. Sometimes we need to stop and focus on the “What” and the “Who” in life.

The great thinker A.W. Tozer once shared, “When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself.”

Something to think about as we endure the days ahead,

Randall Niles



  1. It’s a disaster and there’s much we can do to help those affected. No need inject superstition.

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