My heart, swimming in grief while clinging desperately to faith, would not have spoken these words aloud. But those around us the voiced hurt and frustration that everyone felt: “It’s not fair!” they cried. Twice. After each of our babies died. Blaming God for infant loss (or any terrible suffering) may be the natural response of our human understanding of justice. When we contemplate the character of our Creator, however, we may find that blaming God for our suffering is neither helpful, healing, or just.
Infant Loss Isn’t Fair
As a foster parent, my husband voiced frustration over how both our babies ended up dying from severe anomalies, while so many drug-addicted mothers could have healthy baby after perfectly healthy, beautiful baby.
It isn’t fair!
My chiropractor was mad at God for me because I lived a “pure” life (as she put it). Of all people out there, she felt I deserved to have a healthy baby.
It isn’t fair.
I agree. From a human standpoint, our experiences with infant loss, twice over, felt totally unfair. We were “good” people with “good” families. We were “good” parents to our foster children. We were healthy, and living with faith in God.
Of all people on earth (especially compared with the many who have derailed their lives with substance abuse) we seemed some of the most “deserving” to have the joy of bearing and raising children.
Blaming God in Light of His Justice
But that’s not how God’s economy works.
No. Far from it.
First, we know that “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10, NIV).
And “he does not treat us as our sins deserve” (Psalm 103:10, NIV).
I cringe when people talk about how much we “deserve” the blessing of getting to adopt two children after losing our babies. We don’t “deserve” anything other than the punishment for our sins, which Jesus already took on Himself. There is no such thing as “deserving” anything for our “goodness.”
Second, while God has revealed Himself to us through His Word and, in the person of Jesus Christ, we can never fully comprehend all His ways. Our sense of justice, of fairness, and of right and wrong came from God—since we were created in His image! Yet our sense of justice and righteousness is limited compared to God’s.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9, NIV).
But the verse that struck me most with humbling conviction came from God’s words to Job: “Would you discredit my justice?” (Job 40:8, NIV).
Blaming God in Light of Creation
Studying through the book of Genesis this year, my BSF study inserted a reading from Job to accompany the first chapter in Genesis. I’ve read both Genesis and Job before, but sometimes it takes someone else tying verses together—along with particular circumstances in my life—for a new realization to come alive.
In this case, reading Job 38-40 (and Psalm 148) alongside Genesis 1, the revelation about God’s character and might was awe-inspiring and humbling. It struck at the root of pride that suggested God had done me wrong.
God’s Spirit is Present and Involved
From the start, God’s Spirit was present and involved in creation: “The spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2, NIV).
God’s spirit is not absent. If His spirit cared to hover over empty water, how much more does he surely care about abiding in us!
I can’t blame God for being absent or uninvolved.
God’s Word is Powerful
God spoke, and the world and everything in it came into existence. “And God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7 and following). Over and over. By his mere words.
His voice, His Word, is powerful. Mine is not. My children (or my students, when I was teaching) may or may not heed my voice. My voice is not powerful, my presence not commanding. But the most intricate details of nature came into being because God simply spoke.
I can’t blame God for being weak or powerless.
God Values Creation
God named the parts of his creation right from the start. “God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night’ (Genesis 1:5, NIV). Naming shows purpose and value. Right from the start, God imbued value into his creation.
I can’t blame God for not valuing me, my husband, or my children.
God’s Work is Perfect
God’s design and planning was flawless. Not only was each feature of earth and each animal good. He created the whole ecosystem—the whole universe—to function together, benefitting each creature.
God created land and seas before plants, so they would have a place to grow. He called upon the land to produce vegetation before he created animals, so they would have provision of food and shelter.
God’s creation was perfect: “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 24).
Any study of science reveals even more intricate ways the organisms of earth are intricately inter-dependent. My mind cannot handle trying to juggle all those intricate details, cooking them up from scratch and making every part come out perfect.
I should not blame God for having flawed plans or making mistakes.
Creation Teaches Us to Worship, Not Blame
Psalm 148 voices the praise of the Almighty Who could create and sustain the universe:
“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away” (verses 5-6, NIV).
I cannot blame God; I can only worship.
Creation Teaches us to Humble Ourselves
Job complains of very real suffering. Nothing about it seems fair or just. Nothing makes sense to him according to what he knew of God.
The LORD did not discount or deny Job’s pain. Instead, His rhetorical questions (which I imagine being spoken in a booming voice tinged with sarcasm) pointed out the incalculable divide between the wisdom and power of the Lord and that of Job, a mere human.
You can read the entire discourse, which builds powerfully through 3 chapters, in Job 38-40. But for now, consider these verses:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb…when I fixed limits for it and set it doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther, here is where your proud waves halt?’
“Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
“Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? (Job 38:4-5, 8, 9-10, 33, 35, NIV).
Then, again, the Lord spoke out of the storm:
“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s…?” (Job 40:7-9, NIV).
A knife to my heart: “Would you discredit my justice?”
Blaming God in Light of Teaching and Parenting
So many times we feel God is not fair. He did not give us the good we think we deserve. Or he failed to give evil people the punishment they deserve.
Pondering this, suddenly I felt myself in God’s place, hearing the accusations of the humans He created.
I have been both a teacher and a parent— both roles of authority, both using wisdom and knowledge to lead and guide children who don’t know everything.
In both instances, I have been called “unfair.” Students—even own child—have accused me of acting unfairly or having wrong motives.
Do you know how infuriating that is? To be accused of acting unfairly, or treating someone wrongly, when I had very good reasons for my choices? When the accusers have no idea of the complexity of a situation or the rationale behind my actions!
Children can readily identify what looks or feels unjust.
But they don’t know all the background of a situation, or the adult’s long-range plans in handling a situation a certain way. (This is not to say that children’s accusations of injustice are all unfounded. Sometimes, unfortunately, adults do not always act with others’ best interest at heart.)
So many times, if my students (or child) had simply waited 5 minutes, they would have seen the logic or wisdom or fairness of my actions.
If they had paid attention day after day, week after week, they would have seen my pattern of planning for their benefit and acting for their good.
So if we humans put ourselves in the place of children, and God in the place of a parent or teacher, maybe we can choose the part of humility and accept God’s decisions whether they make sense to us or not.
Before Accusing God, Remember
So when I don’t understand God’s failure to heal my child (or anyone else I’ve prayed for), I need to remember these things before accusing Him of being unjust:
God created the heavens and the earth with boundless wisdom, making every part fit together. He is wise and knows everything. My child’s deformities were not an oversight.
God’s voice calls forth the wind, the rain, the snow, the lightning. God’s voice alone created all we see of the natural world today. He is powerful.
God was not incapable of healing my children.
God cared about every detail of creation, from His Spirit hovering over the waters before they took on form, to naming his creation, to providing for the needs of every creature in the world, simultaneously.
God is loving. He values and cares for me, even though my babies died.
Like a parent or teacher who has reasons for giving or withholding candy, extending mercy in one situation or calling out misbehavior in another, God has reasons for what he gives and what he takes away. For what he allows and what he prevents.
Like a child who is ignorant of the broad picture, I need to release my grip on what I think is fair, and trust the only One who is at once all-powerful and all-wise and all-loving.
Would I discredit God’s justice? I dare not.
Instead, I worship the One whose love, care, and wisdom is displayed throughout the universe, eliciting highest praise. God is not required to explain Himself to me. And so I must trust, knowing that he cares for me, and in light of His eternal kingdom, has my best interests at heart.