A God of love?
In this suffering

Yeah, right.
O.K., we're not going to pretend this is an easy one. Your stance likely boils down to something like this: If there is someone sitting up there in Heaven doing nothing while all this is going on down here, then it's not anyone I want to get to know.

Children are molested, women are raped, entire towns are wiped out by heartless invaders, countless millions live without sufficient food or shelter... on and on it goes for generations... and God just looks on and watches the suffering, never moving His supposedly omnipotent finger to help.

Hearing Him referred to as a God of love only makes it worse. After all, if one is going to insist that God exists at all, at best He should be referred to as one who is largely indifferent to the plight of mankind.

Entire volumes have been written on this subject either defending or attacking the concept of a God of love, a God who actually cares for each and every individual who has ever walked this earth. To come to an understanding of the issue, it's best to keep it simple by focusing on one key phrase: Free will.

If nothing else is clear about God's dealings with us, it is that He has taken a surprisingly "hands off" approach to His creation. While it may appear to some that He never interferes in any way whatsoever, this is decidedly not the case. Those on the inside know that He works in marvelous and amazing ways in their lives, and in answer to prayer. And believe it or not, He is also constantly at work in the lives of those who do not even know Him. But granted, even His followers wonder at times at the level of restraint He exercises, often wishing for more obvious divine intervention.

Step back for a moment and carefully take in the big picture. How much could God really do to fix things down here without robbing us of free will? If He grabs a murderer by the scruff of his neck and drowns him in the ocean just before he commits his heinous act, did he respect free will?

No, God is not a universal policeman. He allows untold human suffering to take place every single day. But it doesn't follow then that He must not be a God of love. The truth is that we can't possibly fathom the depth of compassion He feels when He observes what takes place down here. And He misses nothing.

So what makes Him hold back, when it's in His power to intervene? Because He is bound by the plan. And the plan is that each one of us has to decide for ourselves how exactly we are going to exercise our gift of free will. We're either going to let life destroy us, or we're going to let it lead us to truly find Him, and to discover that He is indeed the source of pure, selfless, ever-flowing love.

When you find yourself struggling with how all this can be, remember this: We aren't called to perfect understanding of His ways, but to an understanding that His ways are perfect. No, He may not stop the drunk driver from killing your seven-year-old son. But He is the one who can miraculously cause you to truly forgive and love the driver who lives on after robbing your beloved child of life. Ask those whose lives have been permanently clouded over with grief, hatred, and anger after such a loss what they would pay to be free from these devastating emotions. And ask the one who has had to live with the horror of knowing he has taken the life of a child what price he would put on the forgiveness and freedom from guilt that he doesn't deserve, and the deliverance from drunkenness that seemed unattainable, yet he found when he turned in desperation to the God of love, mercy, power, and restoration.

It is in such things that we begin to understand the plan. We begin to get a small glimpse of why He holds back. We start to realize that in all the horror of the human experience, there is something transcendent, something mysteriously wondrous going on, reserved for any and all who find Him.