When Faced with Evil

“Why, God?” The question that always comes up when something evil happens. Yes, something evil happened on Monday when two bomb blasts killed and wounded bystanders at the Boston marathon. God did not do the evil. An evil human being (or more than 1 such terrorist) did it. The next question is usually, “Why didn’t God stop it?”

Now you are at the bigger question which is “Why does God let any of us do evil?”

People get very confused in their thinking, and we want to have it both ways. We want to be free and responsible except when bad things happen. Then, we want God to be responsible. Isn’t that true? We humans can’t have it both ways. Either human beings are free and responsible for what we do, or we are not free and responsible for what we do. People can’t blame God for humans doing wrong.

We as Christians can look at a tragic incident and say to the victim, “That was gross, black, terrible, straight from the pits of hell, and those people are responsible for what they did. But God is bigger and greater and to the person who will trust Him, one day, whether in this life or the next, you will see how He fulfilled that promise (in Romans 8:28) to work that together for good in your life. You choose what to do in the meantime—respond by faith now when things aren’t ideal or follow the pattern of anger, despair and self-pity.” My choosing the latter only contributes to the feeling of helplessness not healing and hope. I find it better to trust.

Getting back to the question, “Why doesn’t God stop evil?” The true answer to that is that He does stop evil all the time. God stops more evil than we will ever know. Every day He is stopping evil. You may then ask, “Why doesn’t He stop all evil?” To stop all evil would mean to stop all human freedom.

Right Thinking—God Lets Human Beings Have Their Freedom

Are you willing to give up your freedom? I kinda like mine. The thing that the Bible teaches is that God takes our freedom and responsibility far more seriously than we do. Human beings demand our freedom to do what we want to do. Then when something bad happens, we blame God for letting it happen! Isn’t that true?! God lets human beings have their freedom. You don’t have to have an answer for all bad things happening. In this world, all may not turn out well. When we are with Christ, we will have the whole story. Understanding this leads to right thinking in evil situations and helps us to avoid some wrong answers to the question, “Why, God?”

Wrong Answer—I’m Sure God Has a Plan/Purpose for This

When something bad happens, we erroneously say, “I’m sure God has a plan or purpose for this.” Bad answer. It’s enough to make people blow up at God. We think in “churchy” phrases and often throw these to others and forget where they really are. Instead of saying, “I’m sure there’s a reason why this happened” (because that puts the emphasis on God and why did God do this), a better response is, “I don’t know why things happen in the world. I do know that God is good, that He is loving, and that you can go to Him for comfort, and He will strengthen and help you. I know He is not finished with you, and He has a future for you.”

Here are 4 things I choose to remember about God’s sovereignty in tragic situations:

  1. We live in a broken, cursed world with suffering and evil and death. A war zone, both physically and spiritually.
  2. We live in the last days of the old creation, which cannot be fixed by humans, only by Jesus when He returns.
  3. God has chosen from the beginning to give human beings the freedom to act. When someone asks, “Why did this happen?” Answer with, “An evil human being did this.” Don’t discount evil.
  4. God, who is great and powerful, will one day wrap up history and fix it. We live in the hope of this happening in our future. In the meantime, human beings are free to do what they want to do.

Right Answer—The world is not always good, but God is.

To someone who is a casualty of this wicked world (cancer, death, rape, murder, bombings), try giving them this counsel: “I don’t know if there is any answer to this.  But I do know that Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, and I will give you rest.’  I know for a fact that if you go to Jesus Christ today, you will find comfort and light. He invites you to come to Him for comfort. And, He can fulfill that promise to you. The world is not always good, but God is. That’s why you can trust Him.”

More Resources:

Old Testament Men Bible Study (read online)

Old Testament Men Bible Study (download pdf)

Trust God’s Choice in Addressing Your Pain

Perseverance in the Rough-and-Tumble of Life

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

What’s Left When Our Props Are Removed

More “Pain and Suffering” Articles

Melanie Newton

Melanie Newton is the founder of Joyful Walk Ministries, an online ministry that helps women learn to study the Bible for themselves and grow their Bible-teaching skills to lead others on a joyful walk with Jesus. Melanie has written many Bible study guides (available on Bible.org and her website) and presented insightful messages to large groups of women. All of her BIble Studies are available as books on Amazon.com. Melanie is wife to Ron Newton (“Integrity at Work” ministry), loves to be outside in her garden, and enjoys her yearly fix of boiled crawfish.