Question: If God is a God of love, why does He allow babies to die?
a) Our Expectations
Well first of all, the question is rather limited. It might have been, why does God allow anyone to die prematurely, because surely the thought of premature death is what is behind your question.
We somehow expect everyone to live on into ripe old age, but so often we don’t. People do die of heart attacks in their 30’s 40’s or whatever other age we consider ‘premature’. Why do they, and why do babies die prematurely? More often than not it can be put down to what theologians call this ‘Fallen World’.
b) The Existence of a Fallen World
The reference to ‘a Fallen World’ means the world is not perfect like it was when God first made it, because the first man and woman (the first real humans) ‘fell’ from their state of perfection by going against God’s design and in so doing, introduced what the Bible refers to as ‘Sin’ into the world. In its most simple description, ‘Sin’ is ignoring God and living contrary to His design.
It is a very simple and straight forward analogy, but if you try running a car contrary to the maker’s design, it will soon breakdown. The effect of humanity living contrary to God’s design, the Bible reveals to us, was that it created strife between human beings, fear in animals, and a general breaking down of the way the world ‘works’. Thus we now have sickness, illness and infirmity as common experiences and ultimately they all exist because of humanity’s decision to live contrary to God’s design. Those working with genetics talk about faulty genes, but these aren’t accidents, they are the ultimate result of our living contrary to God’s design.
c) Why doesn’t God intervene?
This was a key part of the original question. If God is all-powerful and loving, why doesn’t He intervene, why doesn’t He step in and stop babies and adults dying prematurely? The answer is terrible: respect! God respects and honours our free will choices which most of the time, for many people, could be summed up as ignoring or rejecting God, His presence and His design and His will.
God gives us the right to live our lives just as we want and so most of the time He will not force Himself upon us (on occasions He does impose on us in measures that demand our attention). As soon as we take note of Him, respond to His calling and surrender our lives to Him and ask His forgiveness for our folly, and ask Him to lead us and help us, then He is there and will willingly intervene as we request and when He sees that would be best. Thus when ‘life goes wrong’, although it grieves Him (for He longs to help) He will stand aside and allow us to lead our lives as we will and cope as we will with the upsets of life.
Why doesn’t He intervene and stop all premature death and illness? Because He’s given us ‘the car’ to ‘drive’, and allows us to wreck it. To stop that happening, He would have to either change the laws of science or turn us into robots that would always use ‘the car’ perfectly according to His design. Once He gave us free will, He gave us the right to misuse ‘life’ and the only alternative to what we experience today, would have been to remove that free will and that would mean we cease to be human beings and all that that means.
We need to add that He doesn’t sit back and ignore our plight when tragedy hits. God anguishes with us. The Bible speaks of Him as a God of comfort and He comforts because He feels with us and for us. Jesus came to enable a closeness to come about between us and God, and in that closeness, although He usually does not step in to stop such things, He will be there for us. Ultimately the Bible indicates that God doesn’t make mistakes but we’ll have to wait until we get to heaven and see Him face to face, to know the truth about our personal circumstances. In the meantime He is there for us, even in the midst of immense anguish.