Why Does God Allow Evil?

Question:
How can a loving God allow (if he’s truly sovereign) an innocent child to be molested? That doesn’t seem like love.

This is a great question, and I’ve wrestled with it in the past for sure. The short answer is that God doesn’t prevent evil – he is sovereign over it.  The long answer is as follows:

God created the world to reflect his glory, and it does in many ways.  Man did rebel, though, and sinned greatly, rejecting God’s will and headship over creation.  When that happened, the world was broken and man’s desires became only evil all the time.  Since then, everything we do is tainted by sin and produces more sin.  We can see this in Genesis 3, and also in Romans 1 – man sins against God and bears the just penalty for that sin.  God, in his grace, sent Jesus the Christ to die on the cross for those who love God and trust in Jesus.  So God is not the author of evil – rather, he is the author and creator of good, and his essence gives meaning to terms like justice, righteousness, love, grace, and holiness.  But that doesn’t answer the question.

Let’s get down to brass tacks here.  We know that God is loving and that he is sovereign – we see this throughout Scripture.  But we also know that evil exists and permeates our culture and our lives.  So I would submit to you that rather than evil being in opposition to God’s plan, it is well within it. By that I mean that even though evil exists, it does not mean that God has failed.  Quite the opposite – it means that he will redeem that evil and use it for his own glory.  To be sure, the instance above (an innocent child molested) is tragic and I hurt for you if that is part of your story.  But let’s raise our sights a bit and see that God is in the redemption business, not the evil prevention business. I can see two main things that I’d like to address here.

First is that God is a redeeming God.  What if, in light of the previously mentioned molestation this innocent child grows up in a life of sin and confusion and is given over to drugs, abuse, and heinous sin?  What if that child then becomes a Christian and understands the full weight of God’s immense grace in forgiving them of sin that was done to them, and the sins that they committed?  Would that child then not have a greater appreciation of grace?  I’ve heard many testimonies of those who have both endured and committed egregious sins, and to a person each one has always said something like “It has been a very hard road and I would not wish it on anyone, but I will also say that I am thankful because this has brought me to know Christ and his grace much more intimately – and for that I wouldn’t give up a single second.”  You see, for those who know and trust in Christ, God takes our darkest times and redeems them for his glory.  The former addict now has a recovery ministry.  The former porn star now shares the gospel to those in the sex industry.  Or, if we look biblically, the former murderer of Christians (Saul/Paul) gets saved and writes more than half of the New Testament.  Or the youngest brother sold into slavery by his brothers endures much sin, but ultimately fulfills God’s designs for his family and is able to provide for his family when they are in hard times.  You see, God does not prevent evil; he is sovereign over it.

We absolutely must weep with those who are enduring much pain and sin, and we must fight for justice and freedom because they are graces from God.  But we must also share Christ with them so that those dark times do not stay dark – so that they are redeemed for the glory of God and become a part of a beautiful testimony to the grace of God.  And I pray that those who, like me, do endure or commit many sins will (if not now) one day be able to say that what was meant for evil God meant for good (Genesis 50:20).

Second, God is a holy God.  Another main point to consider is that God’s main goal is not the absence of evil, but the recognition of his holiness and glory.  So while sin does grieve God, it does not worry him or make him waver in his pursuit of his own glory.  In the case above, if an innocent child is molested that is a truly awful thing.  But his justice can and will be seen in the molester being punished – and not in some court system, but eternally for his/her sin and rebellion against God to another’s hurt.  Or his grace might be seen in that sinner coming to know the grace of Christ while in prison or at some point in his/her life.  Either way God will have his glory known.  We are not at liberty to dictate how, when, or why because he is the Potter and we are the clay (Romans 9).  We, with our finite minds and limited perspective during our short time on this earth cannot say to him who is infinite, sovereign, infallible, omniscient, and eternal, “You’re doing it wrong!”  It just doesn’t work that way.  [And even if he was doing it wrong, we wouldn’t know because his ways are infinitely higher than ours.]

Rather than question God’s goodness in the times when evil does rear its ugly head, we must, like Job, worship in God’s provision and in the lack thereof.   We must worship with tears of joy and tears of pain.  We worship not because it’s easy, but because our God is the one who is sovereign over evil, and who can and will redeem it in his time.  We worship not because of circumstances, but because he is holy and worthy.

I hope that I’ve shed at least some light on the subject… if you have any other questions, feel free to submit them here.

Lastly, for further reading on this topic, a great article by John Piper is available here.

 

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