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I have included below, for the benefit of any, a letter I wrote to a friend recently about a very difficult subject. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. (And the guilty too, let’s be honest.)  ;o)
Hi John,
I hope you’re having a great time out west!
I wanted to finally respond to your question about why doesn’t God intervene to stop bad things from happening in the world. So go get a cup of coffee, start some relaxing music, make a fire to read by, get comfortable on the couch, and you might want to find a way to bookmark your place because I might be about to write a book. ;o)
So plenty of smarter guys than me have addressed this issue really well.

I didn’t take the time to track down many, but I did find one or two articles and/or videos on RZIM.org . Check them out when you have time. I know that this question is not burning up your faith any more, and that you are in a much more healthy place spiritually than when you originally asked me this question. But “you that stand take heed, lest you fall.” I wanted to put some of my thoughts down on paper, and maybe help give you something to chew on.

Why do bad things happen? Well, to start with, God didn’t create the bad things. We brought those because of our sin. We corrupted his perfect creation. All the bad things in the world were not created by God. We brought those in. It is our fault the world is so hard.

So why doesn’t God stop it then? Why, if God loves us, does he allow such horrible things to happen, even in the lives of children? First of all, why couldn’t we apply that to all the world? If God “so loved the world”, why does he allow any evil at all? Why would a loving Father allow such horrible things to happen to the people he created?  If we define love as “only doing nice/pleasant/comfortable/enjoyable things to the object of our love”, then we would have to conclude that God doesn’t love anyone in the world….at all! But that is not what “love” really means. Love always acts in the best long-term interests of the object or person being loved. Would you agree with that definition?

Good. I thought so. ;o)

God our Father has to allow the consequences of sin to exist. For free-will to exist there has to be consequences for wrong choices. And sins consequences never only affect ourselves. The sinner always impacts others when they sin. And sometimes those victims are innocent. They did nothing to deserve that wrong treatment. But that is, in part, why sin is so awful.

If God removed those consequences…all of them…if he chose to erase the damage of the wrong choices of evil people, that to me seems to be a violation of justice and removes some of the need for redemption. I don’t think you are legitimately calling for the eradication of every consequence of evil. Most Christians would probably agree that God could not reasonably take away all the consequences of sin. Otherwise that is paradise. Why does Jesus need to die if we already live in a nirvana of entire goodness? So then what they are saying is that some consequences of sin are all right, but some are not. Some consequences are unjust.

So who gets to decide? Who decides what evil is allowed and what is not? Essentially what we are saying when we ask “Why do bad things happen?” is “Why can’t God use my standard of right and wrong? Why can’t I decide who gets what evil? I’d be much better at it than God is.” Remember God’s response to Job? [Paraphrased] “Did you make Leviathan? Did you create the world? Do you think you can do this better than me?”

Or listen to what Joseph said in Genesis 50:19, after his brothers became fearful he would exact revenge for the unjust treatment they inflicted upon him so many years before: “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?”

Going back to the correct definition of love… Sometimes real love allows “bad” things to happen to a person because that is in their long-term best interests. I even cause things to happen to my own children, whom I love more than every breath I take, that some could define as “bad things”. Someone looking in, and even I’m sure my children themselves sometimes, would think that I didn’t “love” my children because I am doing something so very uncomfortable and unpleasant, causing tears…the whole nine.

But I do love my children. More than life itself. And I understand things that they don’t. And I see their future in ways that they cannot possibly understand yet. And I know that their temporary pain now is necessary for their benefit and success later on in life. I am doing the most loving thing in the world by (sometimes) causing or allowing temporary pain. If I, Jarod Hinton, a human father with multitude faults and sins still strong in me, and with incredibly limited understanding and insight into the future or the present…If I can love my children this way, how much more does my Heavenly Father love me and others this same way?

Biblical basis you say? Here ya go: Matthew 7:9-11“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

 

Imagine many people in the world asking God for, or at the least wishing for, “good gifts”, which essentially boil down to “Please give me everything I want and never let anything bad happen to me.” The Perfect Father knows how to give these “good gifts” to those folks, but it never comes the way they expect or want. He may allow them to lose a limb if that means they can live FOREVER with Him, experiencing nothing but genuinely good things at his throne. He’s more than willing to sacrifice temporal comfort for eternal treasures.

So let me get real personal…

What if God has been protecting you? What if the things you have experienced, which are legitimately horrible experiences that you did not deserve, were the absolute bare minimum that he had to allow to get you to be converted? What if, in his wisdom and mercy, he knew that the only way he would get to spend eternity with you was to allow those things to occur? But of course, because he cares about you, he only allowed the bottom rung, the absolute lowest suffering necessary to bring you into the fold. Sounds harsh and I’m sorry for that, but is it possible? In the sinful world we live in, which is originally our fault, is it possible?

And then what about the ways you can understand and minister to others that are suffering? You have been there and can empathize and communicate with them in ways others cannot. Simple fact. Maybe God is planning to bring hundreds, even thousands of people into the Kingdom of his Dear Son as a result of the suffering he has brought you through and walked with you through. Is that possible?

Does that change your perspective on suffering and evil?

Look at Joseph’s life in the Bible. He did nothing wrong expect maybe behave a little bit spoiled and immature. He was attacked by family, betrayed by those he trusted, sold as a SLAVE, worked his way up to a position of trust and success only to be lied about (for doing the right thing) and imprisoned unjustly for not sure how long, then gets his hopes up by performing a service to these servants of Pharaoh and asks them to put in a good word in, only to be FORGOTTEN for TWO YEARS! None of this did Joseph deserve. It was all unjust!

Yet God had a plan all along, weaving it into the grand scheme of the world, to preserve Joseph’s entire family and making him, in the end, much better off than before. He even did it in such a way as to heal the resentment that his brothers had for him. Bringing them to repentance and restoration was also part of God’s plan in all of that. It wasn’t just for Joseph’s good character that God allowed all this “evil” to happen. (But I bet God only allowed the bare minimum that was needed.)

See part of what makes God amazing is his redemptive power. He can take something originally “evil” and work it so that it becomes actually a good thing. A benefit.

Here is what Joseph said, looking back at the challenges and hardships of his life from the other side: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen. 50:20)

Ok, I’ve said a lot. Chew on this and let me know your thoughts. Even if these answers don’t satisfy, I know that God has the answers and will reveal them to you in due time. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search it out.” Proverbs 25:2

I look forward to continued discussion. This is the kind of thing that pumps me up! :o)

In Christ,
Jarod
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