(Photo by Emil Jarfelt on Unsplash)
Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
There really is no satisfactory answer to the question of why God allows evil when you are in the middle of evil happening to you or your loved one, or when you remember past wrongs done. Maybe you have already worked through this question and don't struggle with why God would allow evil to exist in the world He created, but keep reading because it may give you some insight in how to answer this question when you encounter someone who is asking. And for those who are asking this question, I hope this post can help you think logically, and be of value to you in the future.
J.Warner Wallace of Cold-Case Christianity uses his skills as a cold-case homicide detective to train believers in defending their faith and making a case for Christianity. In his podcast, Why would a Good God Allow Evil? Wallace talks about seven reasons for the existence of evil in the world.
Evidence can be found "inside the room" and "outside the room." When there is a death, if everything can be explained without leaving the scene, it will not be a homicide. But if you have to leave the scene to find explanations, murder must be considered. When it comes to the universe, if all the answers can be found without leaving time and space, then we don't need there to be a God, but if we can't explain everything, then we must consider that God is the answer and that He is good even with the existence of evil in the world. Let's look at the seven pieces of evidence:
ACCURATE VIEW OF ETERNITY
In this world, we tend to define evil as anything that goes against our expectation of life. We may expect to live to be ninety-years-old, that people will treat us fairly, or that we will find someone to love. So when a loved one gets sick and dies at an early age, we call it evil. But what if our definition of what life should look like is wrong? Temporal life is like the morning fog; it's here for a little while, and then it's gone (Jms 4:14). God sees life from an eternal perspective, and that means what happens here on earth is only a small part of the puzzle.
PROPER DEFINITION OF FREE AGENCY
Free agency is the one explanation I have heard most often for why God allows evil. Free will ensures the possibility of evil. If we want a world where love and goodness are possible, then we must accept that the opposite is also a possibility. An evil God would put us in this world with no instructions. But God has given us His Word; a way to know Him and how to live. He is a good God who allows evil to exist so that we can choose.
APPROPRIATE DEFINITION OF LOVE
God is our heavenly Father. An earthly parent knows that sometimes love feels unkind at the moment and will look different from how the world defines love, especially the kind of love where nothing bad is allowed to happen (which is the kind of love they expect God to have). Parents allow for natural consequences or discipline for misbehavior. We make rules for our children's protection and a greater good. So doesn't it make sense that God would also act in ways that may not feel loving in the moment, but have a higher goal in mind? God uses discipline as a way to show His love (Prov 3:11-12). But sometimes discipline is unpleasant.
ROLE IN CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
God is far more interested in our character than He is in our immediate happiness. We want certain character qualities present in those around us. If we're going to see courage, then we must allow for danger; if compassion is the desired quality, then suffering must exist. How will we learn forgiveness if no one ever hurts us? God knows what He is doing.
POWER TO DRAW US
None of us are born wanting to follow God. It is God who draws us to Himself (Jn 6:44). He uses many ways, but if people aren't looking, they will miss or ignore Him. God speaks through creation (Ps 19:1-2), through the Bible, and Christians. He uses many other methods to draw us too. God is infinitely creative and wants us to come to Him. He may use what we would consider evil as a way to draw us if we ignore the other ways.
JUSTICE AND FAITH
Sin leads to suffering. Therefore, God is at work in one of these three forms of justice at all times:
Retributive Justice--looks back and punishes accordingly
Utilitarian Justice--disciplines so we will learn and not repeat the same sin
Restorative Justice--punishes the guilty to make things right
God never promises we will see restorative justice in this life, but He will bring about justice in His timing. We only need to look at Hebrews 11 to see that many lived by faith in spite of hardship and death. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection (v.35-40).
OUR LIMITED UNDERSTANDING
Why do people think they are so smart? Can we see from an eternal perspective? Are we all-powerful? All-loving? Or all-knowing? What one person sees as evil, another person sees as good or acceptable. Who is right? God has given us His standard. His ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts (Is 55:8-9). How ridiculous we are to think that God can't be good if He allows evil. We need only to look at the life of Joseph to know what someone means for harm, God uses for good to those who love Him (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28).
Unbelievers and skeptics will have reasons for why all the above is wrong, but their explanations will vary or will only focus in one direction. When it comes right down to it, we must look "outside the room" for our evidence because the universe does not give us all the answers. Evidence and Science don't speak. It's those who interpret the evidence and science that tell us what they see. God is the theory of everything, and when we acknowledge Him, we find that certain things make sense. We don't have to figure it all out. We aren't smart enough. When you look sincerely and intently at the evidence presented for God, you will conclude that He exists and that evil is something He allows and uses for good, though we may have to wait until eternity to see it. The verse at the top says that God is in the heavens, and He does whatever He pleases, but when you combine it with other verses such as the one that says, "No one is good but God alone (Mk 10:18), then it's easy to believe that God only does what is good and right.
I'm not sure I did this subject justice, so I encourage you to listen to the podcast I spoke of above.