Herod does violence to the church. He kills James, the Apostle. He imprisons Peter desiring to execute him. Reading it again (Acts 12:1-19) reminds me of my questions:
- Why, Lord, did you allow Herod Agrippa I to do violence to some of the church? Why those particular people and not others? 12:1
- Why did you allow James, the Apostle, to be killed by Herod?12:2
- Why did you allow Peter to be arrested? 12:3
- Why did you wait to rescue Peter until the night before he was to be executed? Why not sooner, and why didn’t you rescue James? 12:6
- Why, Lord, did you allow the sentries to be executed by Herod for their failure to keep an angel from rescuing Peter? (This one reminds me that even when God intervenes, bad things can follow from evil people.) 12:19
My questions do not arise from doubt. I understand the broad answers to the questions of evil and suffering. Evil occurs because in order for God to create beings with free will, sin has to be a possible choice. God didn’t immediately bring an end to sin and evil in order to mount a rescue – a plan of redemption. Sin’s entrance into the world brought about a curse that includes hardship and suffering as possibilities. Those are the broad brush strokes of an answer.
Yet, I can relate to Job asking, “Why me?” It seems that the answer Job received is the basic answer we receive for many of our whys. Knowledge of such things is beyond our pay grade. We don’t have the wisdom and power to run the universe. (See Job 38-41.)
But my whys go beyond the text of Acts 12. Rereading Acts 12 just reminds me of these unanswered questions. I ask why for cases in the lives of people I know and my own life. I’ve reached some conclusions. Good people suffer. Faith tested grows stronger. I believe God loves us enough to hear our whys and our faithful laments. Even when I don’t totally understand, I am convinced of God’s power and love and await the world to come when God will wipe away all tears.
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29, ESV)
I don’t have an answer for all my whys, but I trust God even when I don’t completely understand all the ways of God.