Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
If you could get an audience with God, what would you ask him? What's your biggest question?
For heaps of us I think it's simply this: why? Perhaps, putting forward the pain you're experiencing, you would demand an explanation. God, why would you allow this? What's the point?
They are good questions. You're not offending God to ask. And you don't need to wait till you get to heaven to get an answer.
What I'm about to share with you is a very very short summary of what I spend 300 pages (and 1000 scriptures) exploring in the book The Guardian Universe. This isn't a plug for the book, but if this answer that I'm about to give you is too brief for your liking, then you know where to go.
So why does God allow evil to exist in this world?
Pain, suffering and evil, ironically, came into the world in the wake of two extraordinary gifts. Two gifts given to Mankind.
The first of these was free will.
Right at the start, God gave mankind free will. It's right there in black and white, in Genesis. Three simple words.
"You are free..."
Freedom and self determination. It was a gift, given to Adam in full, right up front. An irrevocable gift.
The second gift was dominion. Mankind was given dominion, control, authority, over everything in both the supernatural and natural spheres, on earth.
Supernatural? Yep. Absolutely. Mankind has been given authority over all things on earth, and that includes the Devil.
When the Devil was cursed by God, God specifically cursed him with reference to livestock and wild animals.
So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field ...
These where the animals that, in the heiarachie set by God, had already been put under the rule of Mankind. So the Devil was put under the authority of Mankind.
Now there is a small catch. Dominion wasn't given individually. It was given collectively, for Mankind as a whole.
It's right there in Genesis 1 verse 26.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
For Mankind to be effective in exercising their authority they must wield it collectively. That's why we're told to gather, to agree, to pray for things 'together'. God encourages unity for this very important reason.
So free will and dominion. Two wild and powerful gifts.
So let's skip to the end of the story. Why does God allow evil persist?
Here's the thing. The evil that exists on earth stems from the miss-use and abuse of those two gifts. If the gifts remain, and if their misuse continues, then so do the consequences.
Destruction and pain flows from our mishandling of free will and authority.
Am I saying the Devil has no roll to play? Is he just a bystander?
Absolutely not. He is under our authority, until we listen to his lies. In believing his lies we hand over authority that's rightfully ours. We surrender our authority to him. The Devil, now, holds the keys that should have been ours.
The devil led him (Jesus) up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
Luke 4:5-6 NIV
Jesus refuses the Devil's deal, but he does not refute the fact. We've given the Devil all our authority and splendor. We, collectively gave the Devil the keys to the front door. And we keep doing it!
How does this relate to us today?
Am I saying that you gave sickness permission to enter your body? And am I saying you have dominion over that which is killing you? Partly yes and partly no. Nobody has completely dominion over their physical body, because dominion over this earth and everything in it was given collectively to all of us. That is why God is so furiously wild when we can't be bothered to look after our widows, orphans, the sick and wounded. He gave us collective dominion for our collective benefit.
But divided by hate and indifference, we hand over our authority and dominion to the devil.
It's a pretty bleak picture.
Why would God set things in motion like that? Why would he give his clearly irresponsible children the keys to the kingdom?
For this one reason. You prove your value, by what you do, with your free will.
You don't prove your value through what you achieve, by what riches you amass, or by how high you climb on the social ladder.
You prove your value ONLY through how you use your free will.
Here's the thing. None of us, if we're honest with ourselves, have mastery over our free will. Our selfish desires will always rule us. Exercising our free will on our own, even after ten thousand years trying, hasn't produced even one candidate worthy of God's commendation.
So what did God do? He simplified the test.
He says, if you can say yes to my Son, to Jesus Christ, then I'll come into you and help you take control of your free will.
God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.
Philippians 2:13 CEV
He's basically saying this to you. Just use your free will to make one decision. Decide to let God do the saving, fixing, transforming, and then he will actually do all the fixing and realigning and transforming, on your behalf. He is saying, just use your free will to make one decision, every day just one decision, for my Son, for the messiah, and he will sort out the rest.
God loves you right? He know the world in stupidly messed up! So all he wants you to do is to use your gift of free will and authority just for one decision. Make that decision and he will come in and sort things out.
He made it that easy.
And so that's really the answer. It's not about how screwed up things are. It's about how easy he's made it for you to let him make things right.
So what does that mean for us right now?
Stop clinging to everything else and choose him.
Here's what Jesus said.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG