Pigpen makes a mess everywhere he goes as people get caught in the storm of filth that follows him. God is not like Pigpen. While the world may look like it is spinning out of control, it is not. The world is completely, totally, thoroughly under the sovereign reign of God and nothing happens without His consent. Every molecule in the universe is under the authority of King Jesus (Heb.1:3).
If I told you about a wonderful man who loved everyone he met, but the people he loved brutally murdered him, you would think that was evil and senseless. But if I told you that man was actually the God-man Jesus Christ who came to save us from our sins as part of God’s pre-arranged plan, you would say, “While His murder was still evil, it makes sense.”
The murder of Jesus was the worst expression of evil in history, yet we rejoice at His death and resurrection because we see how God used sin sinlessly for His good purposes and our benefit.
You see, nothing happens by chance. While God may send a storm to punish a guy named Larry, He sends the storm with every single human in mind knowing exactly how it is going to affect them. In other words, tragedy is custom designed for every single person. The same is true with evil, God knowingly allows evil because He uses it to glorify Himself and grow us.
Knowing God’s plan for evil can help us make sense of what appears to be senseless. While no man can claim to be a prophet and tell anyone exactly why God is permitting evil, Christians can proclaim general reasons for suffering and allow each individual to apply that information to his or her life specifically.
Here are 12 responses to the “Why?” question.
1. In order to manifest His attributes of mercy, grace and loving-kindness, God created a perfect world knowing that man would fall into sin and commit evil acts. The result of our sin is death, but God is rich in mercy, grace and loving-kindness and He sent His beloved Son Jesus to die for sinners to save them from the punishment they deserve for their sins. If there was no sin, we would never see God’s amazing kindness demonstrated in Jesus.
2. When does water taste the best? When you are thirsty. When is food most appreciated? When you are starving. When does God’s kindness shine the brightest? When it is darkest.
3. Jesus was asked the “why” question in Luke 13: “Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
4. We sing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” because it is true. Jesus loves little children MORE than their own parents (Matt.19:14). He is the One who knit them together in their mothers’ wombs (Ps. 139:13). It is possible that Jesus wanted those beautiful little children with Him right now.
5. A hunter shakes a tree to make the birds fly away. Sometimes God shakes our trees to make us desire to fly away to heaven. Evil makes us long to go and be with Him (Romans 8:22).
6. Consider the crowded churches and candlelight vigils after a national tragedy. God can use a disaster to shake an entire country out of its collective spiritual slumber to draw us to Himself.
7. God uses evil in our lives to prepare us to comfort others in the future (2 Cor.1:3,4) and be grateful for what we have today. Who of us didn’t hug our kids a little tighter on the day of the shooting?
8. God uses evil to prepare us for a future experience. Have we not all said, “Wow, if I hadn’t gone through that, I would never have been able to get through this.”
9. When we see evil played out, it should prompt us to remember that there is a battle that is far greater than any earthly skirmish. There is a battle in the heavenly realms for the souls of men, including ours. Tragedy can remind us to be more heavenly minded (Eph.6:10,11).
10. If God limited our ability to commit truly atrocious acts, then we would not be able to make genuine choices. Our ability to choose was on display in Connecticut.
11. As a society abandons God’s ways for sinful ways, the results will always be evil. The Proverbs teach us that if we live in a godly way, things will generally go well. If we follow our own paths, they will lead to disaster. A nation can collectively reap what it sows.
12. God is far more interested in our holiness than He is in our comfort. God can allow evil to discipline us. God NEVER punishes Christians for their sins (Jesus was punished for our sins), but pain can be God’s loving, fatherly, corrective rod (Hebrews 12:5-8).
There are many more reasons God allows evil, but it is His sovereign prerogative to not tell us what those reasons are (Deut.29:29). Why? Because He is kind. Just like a child who cannot bear to learn certain adult truths, sometimes we adults cannot bear to learn some of our heavenly Father’s reasons.
This cannot be stressed enough, God does not cause sin, He allows it and He hates it but He uses sin sinlessly. If God simply responds to evil, then He is either unaware, uncaring or unable to help. He is not! God is not oblivious. God is not distant. God’s arm is not too short. God is entirely engaged, involved and redeeming something good from every evil situation He sovereignly allows.
Jesus suffered more evil than all of us. He understands our pain. He is in our pain. Do not waste this tragedy. Let Him grow you, teach you, prepare you, comfort you, love you and if necessary, save you.