If you do a web search on “where is God when it hurts” you will find a book by Philip Yancey by this title, as well as some other articles and dicussions of this topic. Here’s one page in particular that is relevant: http://www.gotquestions.org/btgp.html
There is a verse in the Bible, 2 Peter 3:9, that says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” If I could have my own book of the Bible, I might have a verse that said, “The Lord is not unfair in dealing with people, as some understand unfairness.”
To illustrate this concept, Jesus tells a story in Matthew 20 about a man who hired some workers to work in his vineyard. At the beginning of the day, he hired some men and agreed to pay them a typical days wage. At various times throughout the day, he went out and hired more workers. The last few workers he hired were hired only an hour before quitting time. Then, at the end of the day, he paid all his workers a full days wage, even the ones who had only worked part of the day. The workers who started first thing in the morning were upset, because they thought they should get more than the workers who only worked part of the day. The owner of the vineyard told them, “Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take it and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be angry because I am kind?”
Another story in the Bible that illustrates how God operates is the story of Job. Job was “blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared (obeyed) God and stayed away from evil.” God even bragged about Job to Satan. “The LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth–a man of complete integrity. He fears (obeys) God and will have nothing to do with evil.” Satan replies that the only reason Job is so obedient is because God has blessed him greatly. “Take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” So God said, “All right, you may test him. Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” Later, after Job has remained faithful to God, Satan wants to up the stakes. “Take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!” So God allows Satan to go even further. “All right, do with him as you please. But spare his life.” Although Job never curses God, he does begin to ask, “Why me, God?” At the end of the book, God goes on for four chapters asking Job all sorts of questions that Job cannot answer, really putting Job in his place. Finally Job says, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You ask, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.” Then God restored Job’s fortunes and blessed him even more than ever. Was God fair to Job? Would it have been fair of God if he hadn’t restored Job’s fortunes? (hint: the answer to both questions is “yes”)
One more verse: Matthew 5:45. “He (God) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Not everything that happens in life is a function of whether we “deserve it” or not.
In reality, everyone has sinned against God and deserves immediate destruction. It would be perfectly fair and just of God to let the ravages of sin completely destroy us. However, in His wisdom, in ways that we do not understand, He extends grace at certain times to certain people.
Originally posted 8/3/2005 on bibleforums.org