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Why Does a “Good God” Allow Bad Things to Happen?

A friend of mine were having lunch and talking some things through when he asked “Why does God allow things to happen to people, such as children being hurt and molested, people being murdered, and things like that?” And I gave him both the short and long answer, which I will give to you now. The short answer is this: I don’t know why God permits some things, but I know He uses all things for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). God uses everything, even the bad things, for His glory. So now in to the long answer. What does Scripture tell us as to why? Does God sanction and ordain evil, if I’m to look at Romans 8:28? Absolutely not!

In the beginning, Genesis 1 and 2 give us a clear picture of both the world and the Garden of Eden: God made it all Good. It was perfect, ideal, there was no famine, war, or death, the ground yielded its fruit without trouble, and work was good, and not tedious. But Adam, the watchman of the Garden and His wife, stood by and let his wife be deceived, and participated in the sin. And so, in Genesis 3, God cursed laid the brunt of the curse on Adam and the ground he was to work:

And to Adam, He said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Simply put, and yet not so simple, God’s good world was cursed because Adam brought sin, and therefore, death into the world. The world now produces thorns instead of good fruit, floods, sickness, plagues, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and every natural disaster are a result of the curse. God’s good world was forever scarred by the sin of the one God put in it to rule and subdue it, because he was subdued, and ruled over by his sin (rebellion against God and His command).

Well what about people, then? Why do people hurt people? Why does God allow that? Genesis, again, has the answer in the very next chapter. Adam and Eve’s first two sons were Cain and Able, and, though they had more children, Cain and Able were the first two to draw attention. And why? Because Able, the younger brother, a man of herds and sheep, gave his first and best to God, whereas Cain, a man who worked the land didn’t. Cain resented his brother because he gained God’s favor by trusting God with the first and best of his flocks, and God showed him favor because of that trust. God saw Cain’s contempt, and tried to reason with him:

The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary toc you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

Do you hear God’s voice? He’s trying to reason with Cain to just do what is right, and all will be well. And yet, what does Cain do? He murders his brother in a field. If we’re to take this for what it is: God allows everyone to make choices. He favored Abel, but allowed Cain to murder him. How is that fair? Because God gives everyone the ability to choose: Love and serve God, or serve yourself, and, thus, destroy yourself. When we choose to serve and love God, God is the center of our lives, and like Abel, we give our first and best to God. But if we choose, like Cain, to set ourselves up as gods in our own lives, we’re bound to destroy one another, ruling and dominating over each other by force and power instead of serving and ruling together in Christ with love and sacrifice.

If I read these scriptures correctly, God is not a tyrant. He does not sanction bad things, but, for a time, he allows them. Cain got his just desserts, as it were: God cursed him, and he had to live with the consequences of that sin. And some day, God will judge all, each according to their deeds, or the Lambs book of Life. Those who glorify themselves will be judged according to their works in comparison with God’s perfect law. Those, however, who have cast off their own works, and confessed their sin, and followed Christ will be written in His book of Life, and will gain Him as a reward forever and ever. God uses all things, even the worst, for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, to glorify His name now, and to live with Him in Glory when we reach eternity.

2 Peter 3:8-13

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Revelation 6:9-11

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Revelation 12:7-12

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

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