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Why does God allow bad things to happen?

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By Ted Beam

Why does God let harm come to innocent people? Why does he allow drunk drivers to kill entire families? Why does he sit on his hands while men beat their wives? Why does he look the other way when mothers drown or burn their own children? Or why does he seem preoccupied as pedophiles harm one child after another? Why?

To understand the reason, we must first look at what God intended for humanity, found in the first two chapters of the first book of the Bible. In Genesis 1, we find that God exercised his sovereign will to create humanity in his own image. The Bible records that "God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him. Male and female, he created them."

Now this "thing" of being created in the image of God involves many aspects, including creativity, value, the ability to think ahead and the ability to make moral and ethical decisions. It also involves one non-negotiable, irrevocable element: a sovereign will for each human being.

Do not be confused by the common error regarding the sovereignty of God. Many people believe that God is sovereign. And because he is sovereign he gets what he wants, when he wants it, period. That error is exposed when we look at two verses, which speak specifically about the will (the sovereign will) of God.

Matthew records quotes from Jesus verbatim regarding the will of God being trumped by the will (sovereign will) of human beings. Read them for yourself: "It is not the will of your Father who is heaven that one of these little ones perish" (Matt. 18:14), and "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling" (Matt. 23:37).

In the first example, God's will is salvation for everyone. But Jesus tells us that hell has been prepared for everyone who refuses to walk on the narrow way (Matt. 7:13-14).

The second verse does not speak about the ability of Jerusalem. Jesus puts a bull's eye on the will, "you were unwilling."

I realize it is hard to grasp, but, nevertheless, Jesus states explicitly that the will of the Savior is trumped by the will of human beings. He states that he wanted something but was left empty handed because humans chose not to cooperate.

Just like the United Nations is a collection of sovereign nations, God has created us each with a sovereign will. Humanity is a collection of billions of persons, each with a sovereign will. God holds us in such high esteem that he will not override that will. As an element of being created in his image, we have a sovereign will. No one can override our own power to choose, to make our own decisions.

God created the role of husband to protect and cultivate his wife. Instead, a husband chooses to use his superior strength to control her through fear and intimidation. God created the role of wife to stand side by side with her husband. Instead, a wife chooses to withhold herself as a manipulative tool to control her husband.

God created us to bless one another, to encourage and build up one another. Instead, we misuse that sovereign will to harm one another in some of the most demonic ways.

So why does God let it happen? Why?

Because not even God will override another person's sovereign will to make their every single choice, for good or for evil.

Being created in the image of God carries a lot of privilege and a lot of responsibility. Choose well.