Can A Loving God Allow Evil?
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
The news from the last three years has been as devastating as it has been disturbing. Riots, mayhem, pandemic, lost lives, people abandoning their faith, families torn apart. Most recently, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has consumed our daily conversation.
In the midst of this, it’s understandable that we as Christians ask hard questions. And maybe the hardest question many of us will ever face is: “If God is truly loving and all-powerful, how can He allow evil to exist?”
Believers have wrestled with this for as long as they have professed their faith. Consider just a few passages from scripture, where biblical writers themselves confessed their anguish over pain and evil:
- “Troubles have surrounded me. They are too many to count!” – Psalm 40:12 (ERV)
- “Why is my pain unending and my wound incurable, refusing to heal? Will you disappoint me like a stream that dries up in summertime?” – Jeremiah 15:18 (GW)
- “We know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” – Romans 8:22 (CEV)
- “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” – Matthew 27:46 (GNT)
The last few years, particularly the past few months, this question has seemed to take on even deeper meaning.
Loved ones lost to an invisible virus.
Open hatred between people simply because of who they are or what they believe.\
Senseless violence in our streets.
Free nations being violently invaded.
Oppression and persecution growing around the world.
Real and perceived inequities everywhere we look.
Let’s be honest. Evil is real and is a real problem. It’s natural for some to believe that if God created the world the way it is today, he could not possibly be a God of love, but rather a cold, uncaring God.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Evil entered the world through the fallen nature of man, as a result of our placing our will – the will God gave us to exercise freely – above His will. This choice, this exercise of free will, made evil possible. And it was Satan’s plan, not God’s.
God’s plan has purpose
“But why,” many ask “does evil exist at all? How can God let it happen? Why doesn’t he do something?” Here’s a simple truth. Without the possibility of evil, there can be no possibility of free will. Without free will, we would be nothing more than mindless robots.
The very nature of allowing us to freely choose between right and wrong opens the possibility that we will sometimes choose … wrong. And this is exactly how evil entered the world. The Enemy planted the lie that man could indeed choose his own path, a path different than the one laid out by God.
Because of this lie that led man to believe he did not need to follow God’s Will for a perfect life, the world has fallen into a state of imbalance. This was never God’s intention (Hebrews 11:40 NLV). God’s creation was in perfect balance, a world of harmony and peace. A world free from anger, strife, and pain. God wanted us to choose that life.
Yet, through mankind’s choices and actions we have become separated from God. Irrevocably separated except, for the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When God allowed evil to enter the universe as the price for our free will, He simultaneously created to pathway back to salvation. He became human – one of us – to experience the suffering of His creation. By overcoming that suffering, He made it possible for all of the shortcomings and evil in the world to be wiped away. His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV).
God’s true nature
Perhaps an even more perplexing problem is the question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. This is the topic of a longer discussion, however, the short answer is that we simply do not know. We all know someone, maybe several folks, who have lived good, Christian lives and yet those lives are still best with tragedy. Only prayer holds the answer.
God’s true nature, His real intention for us is revealed through the humanity of Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “All the fullness of deity lives in Christ’s body” (Colossians 2:9 CEB). In Christ, we see the truth about good and evil. We see the powerlessness the lies of the enemy have over us in the fullness of God’s grace and mercy.
We may not always understand why God allows evil to exist or to harm His people (Deuteronomy 29:29), but we can take heart that evil is temporary and will ultimately be defeated. And we can rest in the knowledge that Jesus is with us today, right now, protecting us and guiding us through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:29 CEV).
God promises in Revelation 21:4-5 that He is making a new world where pain, suffering, and evil will be taken away. Every wrong will be righted, in His time. The paradise we lost in Eden will become the paradise we regain in eternity.
Rejoice! And trust in God’s plan.
May God always guide your path.