Why Does God Allow Evil?…
Email From Middle School Parent:
Have any suggestions on talking with kids about why bad things happen to good people? My [children] are really struggling with believing in a God that would let bad things happen…Thoughts?
Thank you so much for sharing this question with me; it really means a lot.
Here are some thoughts (please click on underlined portions for links to related Bible verses)—by no means are these meant to be an “answer” or an end to the discussion but rather a Biblical perspective, a healthy continuation of the conversation. I am more than happy to talk about this further with all of you in person…
- God Is In Control.
- Humans Have Free Will.
- God Brings Good Out of Our Suffering.
- God Is More Concerned W/Our Character Than W/Our Comfort.
- God Didn’t Spare Himself Or His Son From Suffering, So He Has “All His Chips In the Game”, So To Speak.
- Many Are Just Trying To Find a Reason To Walk Away From God.
- God Is Going to Put An End To Suffering.
- It Will All Make Sense.
- God Is In Control.
- The Bible is clear on this. God never sleeps, never is “busy,” never is inattentive or preoccupied with “more important” things. He is totally in control all of the time. God often miraculously steps in to intervene; such as when a person jumped out of an airplane at 5,000 feet, their parachute did not open, and they slammed into the ground and LIVED! But there are many others who have the same thing happen to them but die. Why? Only God knows, and He wants to teach us to trust Him in all things, especially those things that only He knows.
- At the same time, the Bible is clear that humans have free will. God gave humans (and angels) the gift of choice. Love requires choice because forced love is not love at all, and since God is love, the only way for us to truly love Him back is to have the choice to not love Him, to reject Him. So, while it is understandable to be upset at God when something bad happens to us because yes, technically God could have prevented it from happening, the fault lies with the person/people who committed the act in the first place (now of course, some bad things that happen to us [e.g. getting cancer that was not caused by a person’s lifestyle/choices] aren’t any person’s fault, per se, and to understand that we have to go back to the Bible to understand the harmful effects of sin throughout all creation]. Furthermore, if God stopped every painful thing from happening, we essentially wouldn’t really have the gift of choice, and thus we would just be robots. Nothing bad would ever happen to us, but we wouldn’t be able to notice/experience the great things of life either, namely God’s love. If a parent literally takes away every crumb of food in the house except for a two year old’s most hated vegetable, the child will eventually eat the vegetable, but they won’t enjoy the taste, and it certainly could not be said that they “chose” the vegetable.
- Yet God does not leave us with the bad consequences of our/other’s sinful decisions (though we deserve Him to leave us, but that’s another subject!). He works to bring good out of bad, and we all have stories like this in our own lives: Get fired from a job only to eventually find a better one that you enjoy more. Hurt your leg in a bike accident only to have the doctor discover you have cancer, get treated early, and survive the cancer. God designed beautiful diamonds to come from nasty coal. Every painful thing we go through, whether it’s our fault or not, God WILL bring good out of it if we stick with Him. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t grieve/feel bad when the painful thing happens, but the pain is softened when, in the future, we look back and see God’s loving hands carrying us through our struggle. Here’s a powerful video to watch together: http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/25401/Blessings–Laura-Story (the song was written by a woman whose husband is dying of cancer).
- God wants us to be JUST LIKE Jesus, and in order for Him to shape us like His Son, He must chisel, prune, cut, bend, and break us in the process. Sometimes a doctor has to re-break a person’s leg so that it can be reset and heal properly. If the patient doesn’t know this, they would call the police screaming that a doctor is attacking them. But the wise patient trusts the doctor and knows that he/she is only trying to help them. Because God is the owner of everything, He might decide that a child will only live five years. Though we look at it as a tragedy when the child dies (and in many ways it IS a tragedy), from God’s perspective that child might have fulfilled his/her purpose for living. God might use the grief of the parents to bring them closer to Him, to start a foundation that will eventually save hundreds of five year old lives, etc. God can’t iron out the wrinkles in our character using comfortable heat, just as a real iron must use scalding hot air to press a shirt. This is a great video to watch together: http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/20360/Gods-Chisel.
- God has suffered more than any other person who has ever lived or ever will live. Every person hurts Him every day with every single sinful decision they make. In addition, God watched (but didn’t stop it) as His Son was beaten, battered, bruised, and nailed to the cross. So when we hurt, God knows EXACTLY how we feel. I think many of us going through a tragedy think of God as sitting all safe and snug on His throne in heaven, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. God suffers more than us…
- Questions are very good, very important, and can be very freeing. But we have to be careful with some of these mysterious issues like suffering; God may not answer all of our questions, and we have to eventually be ok with that. We have to be careful that maybe we are just looking for a reason to walk away from God, a reason to justify disobeying God so that we can do what we want to do in life. I am not saying in any way, shape or form that you or anyone in your family is doing this! But it is important for us to consider. If after we hear some wise perspectives and read what God’s Word says on a topic, if we aren’t then “satisfied” with any explanations, what are we going to do with that dissatisfaction? Are we going to walk away from God, saying that until He satisfies our desire for an “acceptable” answer we aren’t going to follow Him anymore? Many, many people do this when tragedy comes, unfortunately. We are called to trust in and obey God, even when it seems He is being “unfair”—we need to trust that the Bible, when read as one giant connected revelation, shows that God is always fair, always good, always kind, always merciful.
- Eventually God is going to stop all tragedy and suffering once and for all. But He is waiting on doing this so more and more people can trust in Jesus and be saved/forgiven. God’s waiting (His permitting of evil/continuation of our suffering) has a specific purpose, and a great one at that. In other words, imagine that there is a deadly virus rapidly multiplying in a house. The only way to destroy the virus is to destroy the house, to incinerate it with so much heat that both the house and the virus are destroyed. But there are people in the house and so the firefighters are waiting until the infected, suffering people get out. The people are screaming for help to end their anguish of living in such a house with such a terrible virus, but the firefighters want the people to come out of the house, get the medicine they need from the doctor to be healed, and THEN they will destroy the house and virus forever. So too is God is holding off on destroying evil/sin so that more and more people can escape the destruction that is coming (because when God eventually flushes sin away forever, everyone who has a sin-stained [unforgiven] soul will be taken along as well).
- Some once said that “God’s will is what we would choose if we had all the information.” Someday all of this will make sense to us, just as an adult looking back I understand a lot of my parents’ decisions that I thought were unfair at the time. But until then, we have to again trust that God is good, that God knows what He is doing, and that God is in control.
- IN the end, it’s a question of trust. Would I be better off behind the wheel of my life, or should I let Jesus drive?
Here’s one more powerful video for you all to check out—the story of Zac Smith, a 30 year old husband and father of three children who was diagnosed with cancer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4Qb1qdXn4o
Finally, a teenager named Melanie shared at SHYG (Senior High Youth Group) two Sundays ago; she talked about her friend who died tragically over the summer, a friend who was faithful to God and loved by all who knew her.
Here is what she said:
Before July 18th, I never thought about how truly unpredictable life can be. Before that day someone could have talked about how life is short, and I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. But, since then, the phrase that seems so cliché has become so real. A struggle for me has been trying to understand why such a good God does things that hurt people. I don’t understand why it was Ellie’s time to go to heaven, but I think you have to have faith that God has a plan for everyone. One of the many things I’ve learned, coming from such a tragedy is that you have to take advantage of each moment that you do have. That it’s not necessarily about what car you drive to school, or winning a football game, but about the little small things you do that make a difference. In the end, people are going to remember you by who you are as a person, and one thing this tragedy has made me think about is, if I were to die today, am I who I want to be yet? My answer is no, I still have so much to do. I don’t think anyone is ready to die, but you have to take each day as an opportunity to become a better person and improve yourself because life isn’t guaranteed. When something tragic happens in your life such as 9/11 or the death of a friend, finding God isn’t necessarily understanding his ways, but trusting that he knows what he’s doing. It’s also about moving forward and living to be a better person in memory of those who have died.
Please share these thoughts with your children and please let me know if I can be of further assistance. This is a tough subject and I am so glad that all of you are willing to take in on together!
You are doing a GREAT job!
For other additional thoughts, please click HERE for “Why Doesn’t God Make Life Easier?”
 Mike Woodruff