Why does God allow evil?

People who live in a democracy tend to think it is a very wonderful thing. They are free to go where they want, when they want. They are free to speak their opinions in public. They are free to express their disgust for things. As a general rule, the only time that they are not free to do some particular thing is if that thing would hurt someone or would infringe on someone else's rights of freedom.

A democracy, with freedom of choice, is similar to what God designed.  God knew that being able to make your own decisions was what would make people the happiest. He created us because He loves us and chose to give us the freedom to make choices. That was a gift God gave us. God didn't want to force us to love Him and to love other people.  If I had the ability to force my children to love me I would choose not to use it. After all, if I force my children to tell me they love me it would be as special to me as if I bought myself a Mother's Day card and signed my sons' names to it. It would be meaningless!

God didn't cause the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001. He didn't make Hitler and his followers destroy lives the way they did. God didn't tell Jim Jones to give poison to all the people who followed him.  God doesn't make us lie, swear, or eat a snack just before dinner.  God gave humans the gift of choice. People choose to do good or to do evil, to do what is right or to do what is wrong. People choose to allow satan to influence them.

Satan is a promoter of evil.  He wants to see people rebel against the way God wants things to be.  He is an instigator of hatred and of  crime.  2 Cor 4:4 tells us, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not...."  There is no doubt about it, satan is alive and well in the earth.  Since God gave us freedom of choice we are free to choose to mess around with evil.  Sometimes, as a result of those choices, some people become consumed by evil and do some really awful things.

There have been times in the past few years when I have witnessed humans being cruel and heartless toward other humans and have felt a small portion of the deep, deep sorrow God feels when He sees His beloved children hurting each other. He created us to live in harmony with each other. He wants us to edify each other, help each other, and love each other as well as love Him.  He grieves when He sees His children hating each other instead of loving each other.  (As a mother I can relate to that feeling.  I want to see my sons helping each other, caring about each other, and loving each other all the time.  It hurts me whenever they are mean to each other.)

Fear and hatred do not come from God. If every person in the world developed a close, personal relationship with God there would be no more crime as we know it. It just plain would not exist!!  God calls us to holiness.  We would not be creating any rifts in mankind that would result in more sin entering the world.

Satan is busy trying to destroy the works of God. He is busy trying to keep people from developing that personal relationship with God. He has created false religions. He has promoted numerous things that tear apart the foundational fabric of humanity, the family. He is a liar, and a good one! He can disguise himself and the things he is selling in a cover that looks like something wonderful. Just take a look at the things in your life that you know to be bad. Do you watch too much TV? Do you watch violent or crude shows and movies? How about supposedly "harmless" shows that portray people being rude to each other and treating their friends and family badly?  Is pornography allowed in your home? What about video games that portray people killing people? Do you use any swear words? Have you spoken the Lord's name in vain? Do you spend too much money? Do you eat too much? Do you fantasize about anyone other than your spouse?

I'm sure you already know what particular things in your life are tricks of satan to get your eyes off the Lord. It usually begins in a small and insignificant way. Sometimes it is something that your parents teach you that they believed to be all right. Sometimes things in someone's life that are evil come from way back in their lineage and were handed down from generation to generation. Often hatred for other beliefs or nationalities are of that nature. Things that we choose to do right now will affect our great-great grandchildren.  The attitudes we choose can be passed on to our children, to our grandchildren, etc. 

The food we eat now can affect the health of our unborn children, which can affect our grandchildren, etc.  The lifestyle we choose, the area we build our house, the way we treat the earth, the way we treat our bodies, and most everything we do will have some kind of affect on our present and future families as well as non-relatives.  Sometimes bad things that happen are a result of just one person's bad choices.  Other times they are a result of a group of people's bad choices.

In the case of the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings in New York in 2001 and the other, related attacks, the ones who planned and executed the terrorist acts couldn't have done what they did just out of plain human anger or revenge. They allowed themselves to be taken over by satan and that was what hardened their hearts enough to commit those horrendous crimes. The original hatred for Americans, democracy, and whatever other things were the object of their hatred may have been taught or encouraged by their parents and relatives. How many generations of hatred does it take to build up to a hatred strong enough to destroy that many people?

Hitler hated certain races of people.  Where did he get his hatred?  Why did his followers allow those things to happen?  Apparently they had their own hatred issues. God grieves to see these things happening. God does have the power and ability to stop things like that from happening. I imagine that sometimes He does. We will never know how many awful things were stopped before they happened.

God does want to bless those that seek to know Him and love Him and do His will. If you have read the Old Testament you will find example after example of God coming to the rescue of the Israelites when they screamed out to Him for help and repented of their turning away from Him.  As a matter of fact there are a lot of things we can learn about God's involvement (or lack of involvement) in bad things happening by reading our Bibles. On the other hand, we generally don't see the overall end results of evil things that happen. What if, because of the terrorist attacks I mentioned, millions of people ended up getting saved that would not have been saved had that not happened?

When something results in loss of life we are usually very confused about WHY God allowed it to happen.  We need to allow God to choose what He will and won't do.  We can't see what results one person's death will cause.  We also can't see the results that would have been caused if that person had continued to live longer.  I, for one, am not going to second-guess the Creator of the universe.

 Whenever something happens that wants to send me spinning out of control I remind myself of Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." If I love God, which I do, every single thing that happens in my life will come out for good. Not just some things, EVERY SINGLE THING! God does not cause bad things to happen.  It seems that what God does is allow them to happen.  One reason that bad things happen is because He gave us all freedom of choice.  He didn't just give it to the people who will treat that gift responsibly, but to ALL.

Hebrews 2:17-18 says, "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."  Bad things happened to Jesus.  Why?  It was because of the sins we all chose to commit.  Yet, GREAT good came out of what happened to Him.

Sometimes, when bad things happen to us, we are able to help others that are going through the same type of thing.  So, our misfortune may prevent or reduce the severity of what others are experiencing.

It is entirely possible that ALL bad things that happen are a direct result of bad choices people have made.  Are all diseases a result of bad choices in how we treat our bodies going back to Adam and Eve?  Do hundreds of years of bad diet choices made by our ancestors result in new diseases?

God could stop bad things from happening.  So, where do you think He should draw the limit line?  To stop bad things from happening He has to force people to do the right thing.  Should He go so far as to force me to cook completely nutritious meals?  Should He give me extra money so I can buy meat that has no hormones in it?  No, wait, if hormones in meat are bad for us then He would have to force ranchers to stop giving it to their stock.  Plus, dairies would have to get rid of their cows because the cows' waste products pollute the ground and they emit methane gas so I would have to get my own cow to have milk.

If pollution in vegetables is bad for our health then He should remove all fume-emitting vehicles, industrial places that send pollution into the air, and sprays of all kinds... hair spray, air freshener spray, bug spray, etc.  Gosh, I guess with the trucks, trains, planes, and ships gone we will have to go back to making our own furniture, growing our own crops, sewing our own clothes, etc. How far should God go to stop bad things from happening?

Should He stop me from thinking bad thoughts about someone who hurts one of my children?  He would have to stop those thoughts in another person who would carry through on their thoughts and allow them to result in revenge, so isn't it fair that He stop me from thinking those thoughts as well?  Hmmmm.... this is getting complicated.

 Personally, I'm convinced that God made a good decision to allow us free choice.  After all, He does give us all the help we need to make right choices if we ask Him.  It is too hard to do it on our own.  Besides, we don't see the end results of our choices until it is too late.  What we think is a good choice might be very very bad.  It is important to maintain a close relationship with Him in order to insure that we have all the help we need in making right choices.

So, when bad things happen who should receive my anger?  Who is responsible?  Let's examine some examples. What about something that we can't pin on any one person?  How about a famine?  In my logical mind I can come up with some different scenarios as to the cause, but they are only guesses.  Let's say a famine is caused by a drought.  I can go to the Bible and see where God warned the Egyptians that a drought was coming and they needed to store up food for seven years worth of drought (Gen 41). 

God may be telling people to prepare for a disaster before it happens OR God may be giving instruction to some people to pray about something so it doesn't come to pass.  Perhaps there are people that are not doing their job of listening or of praying.  So, in those cases the famine comes because people make wrong choices.

I probably don't need to come up with more examples.  You probably see where I am headed with this.  There is a way to take all bad things that happen and boil them down to find that there is a possibility that bad human choices are involved.

Now, let's imagine what the world would be like if everyone began making right choices beginning right now. The main "right choice" would be that we would all choose to love each other.   We would still be suffering the effects of wrong choices from the past, but things would certainly get better.  Hate crimes would disappear. 

Things could get a little rougher in that some manufacturing practices might stop because of concern for the environment and concern for people's welfare.  Some conveniences we have had might disappear.  However, we would be better able to get along because people would help people more. 

What would happen to the economy?  Some people would quit work to do what God calls them to do.  The rest of the people would have to give out of their own storehouses to support the ones who were unable to get paid for what they were doing.  Then, people who have security-related jobs would have to find other jobs because there wouldn't be burglaries, thefts, etc..  Oh, I'm going to stop with my imagining.  I've given you enough food for thought.  The bottom line is that I don't know exactly why bad things happen.

Here are some scriptures to ponder:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil."
Proverbs 3:5-7

  It isn't my job to understand all things. I must not allow confusion and questions to create turmoil in my mind. I must not lose sight of the things that I know that I know that I know! I have to go back to the basics of what I know about God. I can't allow myself to lose sight of the goal because of the obstacles that appear. 

It is important that we learn more about God in order to be at peace with things we don't understand.  There are not plain and simple explanations for a lot of things.  In order to have joy and peace in the midst of the bad things that do happen in this world we have to turn to God.  He can help us focus our attention past the circumstances and give us the peace, strength, and wisdom to get through them. 

Over and over I find where I can minister to someone who is currently going through a disaster that is similar to one I experienced in my own life.  It is at times like that when I praise God that I can show proof to that person that the thing they are experiencing is not a fatal blow.  You see, God knows ahead of time that will happen.  So, did He cause or allow the bad thing to happen to me so I could minister to others or was the bad thing a result of other things?  I don't know.  I am going to rejoice in the outcome, however.  Hebrews 2:18 says, "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."  Even Jesus went through temptations so He could show us that we can overcome them.

Starfish on beachIt is important that we not get lost in despair.  There is something each of us can do to make a difference.  I am reminded of a story about a man walking on the beach that was littered with stranded starfish.  (Forgive me as I paraphrase this story.)  Thousands and thousands of starfish had gotten washed ashore in high tide and were left behind to dry out in the sun.  The man was systematically throwing starfish back into the water.  Another man saw what he was doing and questioned his ability to make a difference due to the vast number of stranded starfish littering the beach.  The man said, as he threw another starfish into the water, "I've made a difference to that one."

I am only one person in this big world, but it is important that I focus on the fact that I have a job in the Kingdom of God. My responsibility is to find out what He wants me to say, to do, and even to think. We can make a difference. One person can make a small difference and millions of people can make a massive difference. It is a choice.
 Here are some things to consider when someone dies:
  • Everybody is going to die sooner or later.

  • Perhaps, had that person made different choices, correct choices, their death would have been postponed Maybe, in their death, many people (or just one person) will end up becoming saved and, as a result, won't suffer eternal damnation.

  • Maybe a seemingly premature death was a blessing in disguise and saved that person from a later, more painful, death.

  • Perhaps that person had already had their life spared by God.  What if He had already protected them from auto accidents, or disease, or some other thing(s) that would have taken their life earlier?

  • God may have been telling that person to do something differently to avoid the thing that caused their death and they chose not to listen.

  • That person may have been choosing to not walk closely with God and their life was going to get progressively worse.  Their life may have ended up turning other people away from God and God took one life to spare others.

 We just don't see the whole picture.  Here is a poem called The Weaver that illustrates our inability to see the "why's" of things.


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