Since God is loving and in control of all things, why does he allow bad things to happen?

Questions like these become very difficult, especially when they can become so personal. How does one comfort a grieving mother with the words “God is in control” when she has just lost a young daughter in a car crash?  You can’t. 

We can only offer words based on the faith and hope that all will be resolved and understood when we get to heaven. 

We must remember first that we are all sinful people who live in a sinful world. So much pain and suffering is a result of our sinful behavior. Political strife often causes famine. Economics create unsafe living conditions and even faulty equipment.  Idealism spawns fanaticism and acts of evil terror. Alcohol or drug abuse can cause fatal accidents. A tumultuous world brings pain and suffering into our lives. 

The Bible also indicates that our world contains a spiritual realm made up of angels and demons. These evil spiritual forces are in a state of war against God and everything good. Our earth is the battlefield. This “problem of evil” has a direct influence on everything. All people, including Christians, are potential victims. Like Job in the Old Testament, we become innocent casualties of a spiritual war by getting caught in a cross-fire of good and evil. We don’t know exactly how these forces work. We do know, however, that God preserves and protects us according to his will, because God is stronger than evil. He has already conquered evil and the victory is ours who call upon his name.

God, who is in control of the universe, works out all things (even evil) for their own good. We are not called upon to understand the wisdom of God, but simply accept circumstances in our lives like a small child and simply place our trust in our Heavenly Father.  

** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.

7 Comments on “Since God is loving and in control of all things, why does he allow bad things to happen?

  1. I think Christians can dig themselves into a hole with this. What is meant by the presupposition that “God is in control of all things?” Does God plan your daily life for you? If so, where is free-will. If God doesn’t plan your life for you, is he in control of all things. So, when this mother’s child is killed in a car crash, is it really a good idea to talk about the plan of God then? Or perhaps, there is no ultimate plan, perhaps there was an idiot on the road that was driving drunk.

    We are always looking for something external to provide meaning. The concept of God controlling our destinies makes us feel pretty important, but I think it also removes from us the sense of responsibility we should all have toward each other.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    When I state that “God is in control of all things”, I mean that God is omnipotent— He has unlimited authority or influence on all things. God is also omnipresent–He is present in all places and at all times. And God is omnicient– He is infinitely aware, understands and has insights (past, present, future) on all things.

    No, God does not have a daily planner outlining all of our activities and to-dos. We are given a free-will (a subject I will cover more in depth at a later date) for the sole purpose of loving him. In order to truly love, we must have a free will to love.

    I agree with you that it is not a good idea at all to talk about the plan of God to a grieving person–especially a tragedy of a child killed by a drunk driver. There are times when God simply doesn’t make any sense at all. This is when trust becomes a very important aspect of faith.

    I don’t know about you, but there are many times I feel quite insignificant. I mean, how can a God, the Creator of the universe, care about someone like myself. Yet, in the Bible, it says that He does. In fact, he has all of our hairs numbered just like he knows when a sparrow falls. Not only that, but he has provided a way for us to be perfectly righteous in His sight. As a result, knowing that I am perfectly acceptable in His sight by what He has done for me and not what I do or have done, I live my life responsibly toward all people in appreciation for what He has done for a person as insignificant as myself.

  3. I don’t doubt that God is in control of all things (though I may believe he’s in control in a different sense…), but my issue with the commonly given answer to this question is that several religious texts (including the Bible itself) state that God, not Satan or demons, causes all evil. Isaiah 45:7 reads:
    “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” As to why God would “cause” or “allow” all these bad things to happen, I have no idea.

    I’m not trying to say you’re wrong, or to tear apart your beliefs; after all, we’re all entitled to our own beliefs and interpretations. I just thought I’d throw another idea out for people to mull over.

    – Reynvaan

  4. “I live my life responsibly toward all people in appreciation for what He has done for a person as insignificant as myself.”

    You are clearly a loving and thoughtful person, but that statement of yours is scarcely credible, or even possible.

    Life as a Christian is a relationship with our loving Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, consisting of 99% grace and 1% faith. In the disparity of that involvement we do our best, but our best can never remotely compare with what God has done for us.

    How can we possibly know if we live our lives responsibly towards all people, whether we try to do it in appreciation for what God has done for us, or simply because we obey the two commandments of Jesus?

    I expect you meant that and I am just nit-picking, so please excuse my interference.

  5. To Reynvaan:

    Thank you for your comments. In the passage from Isaiah you quoted, it does read, “I bring prosperity and create disaster..” (NIV) There are times that God does create or allow disaster, but would not be considered evil. Since God is all loving, it would be impossible for him to cause evil. There are difficult circumstances that are allowed, but there is only one reason why God allows them and that is for our own good and His purpose — (Romans 8:28). Yes, it does seem puzzling. However, by faith, we trust in God and accept the fact that we will not fully understand because God is God and we are not.

  6. Dear HughStan:

    Thank you for your good comments. I appreciate any type of corrections, even if it seems to be nit-picking.

    I can see how you may have misunderstand what I was trying to say. Forgive me for not being clear enough and I must say that I was not clear.

    You said that our relationship with Christ is 99% grace and 1% faith. To be honest, I believe it is 100% grace.

    Let me share an example from a football game. If grace is 99%, than it is like Jesus returning a kickoff 99 yards and being downed at the 1 yard line. There is only one play left for me to score a touchdown and gain salvation. It is all up to me to go that one yard.

    I believe that Jesus not only went 99 yards, but went that extra one yard for me to receive salvation. He scores the touchdown. I win! How should I respond? By jumping up and down and celebrating on the sideline what Christ has just done for me.

    From this fact of Jesus doing it all, 100% grace, I can live my life out of thanksgiving for what He has done. Now, with Christ in me, I can be perfect and totally righteous in His sight. The pressure is off! Even though I may feel insignificant, God does not look at me that way. By what Christ has done for me, I can feel 100% certain, not 99% certain, that I will be in heaven. Not by what I do, but what Christ has all completed for me.

  7. Dear Merganzerman, brother I thank God for he has shown his mercy and given us this understanding through your written words. All praise and worship to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

    Until He Comes 🙂

    Your brother in Christ From India

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