A young girl is sexually molested by a family member. Another is attacked and raped by a stranger on her way home. A family of four is discovered murdered in their own home. Your child is hospitalized because of an overdose. You leave your doctor’s office after being notified you have a terminal disease with months to live.
You ask, “Why does a loving God allow these things to happen?”
This is an understandable, but inaccurate question. The creator is not the God of this world. Satan is.
In Luke 4:5-6, Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, and declares “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.”
Jesus does not dispute Satan’s claim that the world belongs to him.
We can infer then that Satan is the god of this world, and he is the reason we see so much evil, death, destruction, sadness and misery toady. Yet, when terrorists flew passenger jets into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, many people were quick to ask, “Why does a loving God allow these things to happen?”
Our God is not the cause of these things; but, as controversial as this may sound, He can use every disaster, every circumstance, every failure, rape, murder, and fearful diagnosis for good.
In Romans 8:28, the Apostle Paul states, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
An important distinction to make is this: nowhere does God or Paul say that the bad things that happen to believers are good. If you were molested as a child, God declares your suffering to be bad. If you were raped, your rape is not a good thing, it is bad. Murder is never a good thing. Drug addiction and overdoses are not a good thing. If you are dying, your terminal disease is not a good thing. It’s terrible, horrible, and yes, it even makes Jesus weep. Just ask the people standing outside the tomb of Lazarus.
The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”
Evil, death, destruction, sadness and heartache do exist in our fallen world. But, for believers, God uses all these things to make something good come out of them.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. [Romans 8:28 NKJV]
Take a moment and break the above verse down. God does not call evil good; but He causes every situation, every heartache, every tragedy in the life of a believer to work together for good.
In Genesis, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and he ended up in prison for a while. But then he became a ruler. Eventually, because of a terrible famine, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to purchase grain. They did not recognize Joseph. Eventually, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and he says “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” [Geneses 5:20 NKJV]
The evil that had befallen Joseph was worked together for good, by God, for not only Joseph’s benefit but many others as well.
God works it out for good to those who love Him and are called by Him.
God works all these things out for good according to His purpose.
His purpose? Think about this for a moment. Think back to some horrible event in your life. Did you not ask yourself God’s purpose for allowing your horrible even to happen? I would remind you again that He is not the God of this world.
As a believer, please remember this important point: God did not cause the bad thing to happen to you. But He does have a purpose. But what is His purpose? Thankfully He does not leave this question unanswered.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. [Romans 8:29-30 NKJV]
God knows you and He loves you. He knew you before you were conceived. He knew you in your mother’s womb. He knew your trauma, tragedies and heartbreaks long before they ever happened.
He uses this foreknowledge to predestine us for His purpose: to become conformed to the image of His son.
When bad things happen to us (believers) we will be affected by them. They will hurt, malign and confuse us. But we can rejoice because God takes all the bad and instead of simply calling it bad, He uses it to make us more like Jesus.
When my son died, the Lord was already at work to use my son’s death to conform me to Christ. I finally understood the loss of a son, as did God the Father. I learned empathy and sympathy the writer of Hebrews, speaking about Jesus, says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
When the Twin Towers fell, I learned to fall on my knees and pray.
Jesus was despised and rejected. That’s a bad thing. He was ridiculed. Another bad thing. He was taunted by His enemies and abandoned by His friends. Another bad thing. The very people He came to save would not recognize Him. Another bad thing. He was an innocent man put on trial. Another bad thing. He was stripped and horribly beaten. Another bad thing. He was ultimately murdered on the cross. Another bad thing. Despite all these “bad things,” even as he was dying, He prayed for us.
And then, despite all these evil things, God caused good things to come from the evil. Jesus rose again and offered us eternal life through Him.
I have learned an important lesson about “bad things.” I try not to let them get me down. Instead I ask myself, “I wonder how God is going to use this to conform me further to the image of His Son.”
The question and future answer to this question always gets me excited and amazed. God will always make good come out of the bad in a believer’s life.