Posted by Toni Hebel, April 18, 2023
Twenty-eight years ago on April 19, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City took place at 9:02 am. I lived in the Oklahoma City area then, and that morning I hosted a Bible study in my home. Together we watched the television in horror as we saw the aftermath of the crumbled building. My husband Bruce, a pastor in the Oklahoma City area, called to tell me that he just felt the church building shudder—the front doors shook—and so did all of us.
The next two weeks were very difficult as Bruce was asked to serve as a Chaplain to the rescue workers at Ground Zero. The stories were horrific. The pain was deep. The questions continued to multiply. "How could anyone do this?” “Why would a loving God allow this to happen?” Then there was the very difficult assignment of telling a family we knew that their missionary parents were in the building at the time of the bombing; they didn’t make it. Their remains were never recovered.
So many horrific things happen on this planet that we don’t understand. It’s very easy to entertain the question, “Why would a loving God allow ______ to happen?” Haven’t we all struggled with this thought in one way or another? I have.
Proverbs 16:4 says, “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” God has a purpose for every event in our lives—even the evil ones. His ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) So the real question is, “Do we trust Him?” “Do we believe God is who He says He is?“ “Do we believe what He says?”
In my struggle to believe, God revealed this Bible verse to me during a difficult time in my life.
“I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) These six words changed my life forever. I remember thinking, “God understands my struggle.” When I admit my struggle, He is there to help me—to give me the faith I need—and He did. God is faithful even when I am not. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13) In other words, “If I am untrusting, He continues to be worthy of trust, because He cannot disavow who He is.” Amazing! His trustworthiness is NOT based on my ability to trust. He is trustworthy no matter what because that is who He is. Doesn’t that bolster your faith and your trust? His grace in my moments of unbelief propels me to want to love Him even more by choosing to believe He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do.
What does God say He will do?
“When you walk through the waters, I will be with you…” (Isaiah 43:2)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
What is God asking us to do?
Our dear friend, the late Michael Wells, used to say, “The answer to every circumstance we encounter, whether good or bad, is, ‘Well, Amen.’” Amen, in Hebrew, means God is trustworthy; God is faithful; God is reliable. When I say those words amidst a difficult or confusing situation, I feel my heart yielding, and peace comes rushing in as I focus on God “in” the situation. And even when it is hard to see Him, I can be hopeful because I know that God is my Redeemer! I can be sure that He will redeem all things, even the evil He allows, for His glory and my good!
Toni Hebel is a gifted communicator and teacher of spiritual truths. Her passion is contagious to all around her as they gather close to hear her latest “God Story.” She is quick to say she lives to see and hear God. Toni has served alongside her husband in ministry for over 40 years. They now lead and champion Forgiving Forward, a ministry founded out of their own suffering. She is passionate about helping all women find freedom through forgiveness while restoring their God-given destinies through an intimate relationship with Jesus. Toni has been a guest speaker for various national and international ladies' events, retreats, and podcasts. Together with her husband Bruce, they have authored the book Forgiving Forward: Unleashing the Forgiveness Revolution. Bruce and Toni have been married since 1979 and have been blessed with three adult children and are the proud grandparents of six grandchildren.