On Sunday, as we were listening to radio hosts talk about the school shooting in Connecticut, my four-year old said, “Mommy, why didn’t the little people just duck?” I got this lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, and I had to look away. She never pressed me for an answer, and I never replied. How do I tell my four-year old that they couldn’t?
By today, I still had not talked directly with my children, but I thought this was a good day to do so. Why allow this opportunity to pass without talking about one very important aspect of such wickedness: why would a loving God, whom we serve, permit such evil?
As a Christian adult, the one answer that is good enough for me is that God permits evil because He is sovereign and all-powerful, and if it is His will, then it shall be. Just because I do not know exactly why, does not mean He is wrong or evil. But how do I teach my children to understand evil and our loving God all in the same sentence?
I found a source that I respect, Wretched Radio, and I presented these points for us to discuss (adjusted for this blog):
Why? by Wretched on Monday, December 17, 2012 at 11:16am
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. (Heb.1:3).
Nothing happens by chance. 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 know exactly why God permits 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. 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.
8. God uses evil to prepare us for a future experience.
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.
11. As society abandons God’s ways for sinful ways, the results will always be evil. 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 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.
God does not cause sin; He allows it, and He hates it, but He uses sin sinlessly. God is not oblivious or distant. God’s arm is not too short. He is entirely engaged, involved, and redeeming something good from every evil situation He sovereignly allows.