woman praying with young girl in a hospital bed
At some point in every believer’s life, they will face the question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” Everyone who bears the eternal name of Christ will need to account for such a question. (Photo: Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock)

By Joshua Stevens, Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice

At some point in every believer’s life, they will face the question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” Examples are everywhere, from movies such as 2016 Batman v. Superman to scholars such as Bart Ehrman in his 2008 book God’s Problem, to friends or family earnestly attempting to reconcile the question soon after tragedy has hit their own life.

Everyone who bears the eternal name of Christ will need to account for such a question. We will examine several attempts to answer this question. Keep in mind, regardless of how true these answers may be, they alone cannot provide solace in the face of evil. They explain how an infinite Being beyond our comprehension may work, yet we only see a small piece of the tapestry. So when you encounter someone suffering, not intellectually from this question but suffering personally from this experience, then hold the theodicy and instead engage in prayer and loving compassion for the one who needs it.

The first reconciliation is that of humanity’s free will. For we know that God will not tempt us (James 1:13) and that God cannot sin (Deuteronomy 32:4), so when people sin, it is because they choose to sin (Genesis 3). Sin has natural consequences; for example, if a man robs a store, then the store owners would lose out on the potential profit from what was stolen. If someone were hurt, they would have to deal with recovering the injury. So, it is the responsibility of the man to know the right thing to do (Romans 2:1-11).

There is a natural objection to this: “Well, why doesn’t God create a world in which evil does not exist?” This question misunderstands the meaning of love. For this to be true, it must mean that God limits our ability to choose in one way or another. If God makes a world in which we cannot choose evil, he could not honestly say He loves us. In this example, we would be forced to love Him and thus would not be loved at all.

This example may cover one set of evil, but there are many more; for example, what happens if someone were to pass away in a natural disaster? In Romans 8:22, natural disasters are compared to “pains of childbirth.” They are both temporary and a natural result of sins’ effect on the world. In the same way, we know that sickness is temporary and a result of sin. 

Later in Romans, we read, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” In the end, we know from our own experience and those who have come before us that this is true. Every trial brings us closer to the Lord to whom we cling. Every moment of suffering comes with the recognition that we stand at the foot of the cross, broken sinners, in the process of being redeemed. We know our pain is not permanent and that the reward for our steadfastness will be eternally surrounded by the presence of God.

Let us pray. Lord, thank you for your unwavering faithfulness. We come before you earnestly seeking the truth and ask you to reveal it to us that we may be better vessels of the gospel and more equipped to defend our faith. Lord, guide us in righteousness and give us hearts of compassion when we come across those who suffer. Above all else, Lord, let your will be done. Amen.

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