Why does God let bad things happen?
This is a common question for people to ask when there has been an act of violence against someone. Inherent in the question, is the assumption that God might be responsible for evil things happening to others, or themselves. When this assumption is made, it is easy for people to conclude that God is evil and should be rejected. There are several examples in the Bible that can be interpreted in a similar way. For example, when the children of Israel entered the promised land, they were told to completely annihilate the people who were dwelling in the land. Those who were to be annihilated probably considered God to be evil for such a decree. Especially when considering that not even the children or animals were to survive in some cases. There are answers for circumstances such as these. For example, the people were to be destroyed because of their evil as an exercise of judgment by God. But this cannot be used as a justification for all pain and suffering that people experience in life.
There is no passage in the Scriptures that explains in detail why God will allow bad things to happen. Therefore, the only way to answer the question is to make assumptions, based on our knowledge of the overall character of our God. I personally believe that God created this world and the people within it, so that people could choose to believe in Him or not. A statement such as this can definitely lead into several different kinds of debates. For example, the Calvinism and Armenianism debate is popular in this context. My personal opinion is that this debate is an argument between two pagans trying to superimpose their paganistic philosophies upon the Scriptures. I believe in a God who is a living active participant in His creation. Regardless of the new debates that can evolve over this point of view, this is the assumption that I make, based on my knowledge of the Scriptures and my God.
If we assume that people have the choice to believe and follow God or not, then people have the freedom to choose not to follow God. For this choice to exist, people must have the liberty to live their lives in context of their rejection of God. For this to occur, it is necessary to allow people to choose to do evil. Therefore, the bad things that happen are not the choice of God, but the choice of the people who decided to do bad things. God has given everyone to freedom to choose to do evil or good. His giving us this choice does not make him responsible for peopleís evil choices. It is necessary however if we are going to have the freedom to choose not to do evil. Therefore, the allowance of evil is necessary to make allowance for people to do that which is good. This is the cost of our freedom.
Another question that could be implied is why does God choose not to intervene when bad things are happening? This is a very difficult question to answer because there are times that God has intervened to prevent bad things from happening. I am not aware of any evidence that has been presented to show the criteria God uses to decide when He will intervene or not. I believe that this question comes down to the issue of our approval or disapproval of Godís decisions. If we knew His criteria, we could pass judgment on Him according to our own personal values. This is what people generally conclude with. Instead, we need to consider that He is God. He is the one who has created all things, and is the one who gets to decide what is good and evil. He decides when He will intervene and when He will not intervene. Will you as one of His creations recognize that He gets to make His choices in a similar way that you get to make your choices? Will you now pass judgment on the one who created you and declare to Him that He is wrong in any choice He makes? He is the very definer of all life, and He is the one who declares what is right and wrong, what is good and evil. Will you trust that what ever decision He makes, it will be the right one? If He chooses to intervene or not to intervene, will you trust that He is making the right decision?
Therefore, I believe the answer to the question, is to consider who God is, and ask a more important question. Will you trust in Him? Will you rely on Him? Will you have faith in the one who has created all things, to make the best decision as to when to intervene or not? Will you live by faith, responding to the truth you know, instead of ceasing to walk in dependency on Him because of what you donít know? There are many things that people have done to me in my life experience. I know what it is to be violated, and I certainly donít have a revelatory reason for everything that has happened to me. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I do believe that a reason can be found for why all things happen. The reason may be as simple as someone chose to do evil instead of good. Life does not have to be any more complicated than that. God does not have to be involved in the decisions others make. There are many times I would have preferred that He intervene, but I trust that He will make the right decision, no matter what happens. With that, I am able to continue to move forward in life, living in dependence and trust in my God.