Post 6 – “Everything Has a Reason” – Why Does God ALLOW Evil?

Whenever you talk about determinism and God’s sovereignty, this question is going to come up – Does God allow terrible things to happen? And if so, why? If you have been reading along, you know I keep emphasizing that sadly, we live in a flawed world. One filled with natural disasters, disease, genocide, a world where children are abused, women are raped, men are destroyed, elderly are neglected, people are cheated, and many others marginalized. While we could make the case that God “allows” such terrible things, this is does not mean that God hopes, wants, orchestrates such atrocities. Far from it. Further, I am insisting that God is out to redeem all things.

So does this point to a weak or distant God. I feel that it doesn’t. if anything is weak or distant, I would suggest that it is a projection of our faith but God is anything but. I could list numerous names and adjectives, but my favorite is He is Emmanuel, the God who came near. I hope these posts have been making the case for a sovereign and loving God that would rather allow us as people to seek HIs will (or not to).

I think it brings greater glory to God to allow atheists to post billboards that mock the incarnation because a God who really is sovereign is unafraid of such feeble attacks on His existence. Now should that billboard somehow collapse and crush a vanful of heartless protesters from Westboro Baptist cult, I am sure I would pause and wonder. But should that same billboard crash onto a van-full of Mennonite church planters, (or a car filled with people that you highly respect), I would remember the words, “Billboards fall on the righteous and the unrighteous” and pray the words of the poet in Psalm 40, “How long must we suffer, how long must we sing this song?”

It’s almost as if some have this picture of God sitting in some type of oval office where papers describing human events are brought to His desk in a constant stream and with one hand He has a stamp that “vetoes” a tragedy from happening in the other hand, He has a stamp, entitled, “I’ll allow it”. (I may be guilty of exaggerating this mental image, perhaps someone can comment and offer a more suitable one?). I feel that if our mental picture that resembles anything like this, we have a very poor image of a loving God.

In any case, do people learn lessons from things like unemployment, cancer, and the loss of loves ones? Yes, absolutely, many times very powerful, life-giving moments but that is because God is good and His grace is there and it is sufficient, not because He manipulated the employer to scale back or because He sabotaged internal organs. For me, this is an incredible distinction.

I believe that sometimes God intervenes and heals. And sometimes He does not. I do not believe this is a condition based on our level of obedience, or a direct correlation of our intercession. Sometimes an entire church prays for something good and pure and the result is not desirable. And sometimes the Lord hears the prayers of a humble, uneducated grandmother and a miracle is unleashed. Should we send our grandmothers to seminary and combine their intercessory skills with reformed theology? I suppose it’s something to consider (and then would we let them preach?;-) Both my grandmothers were of the godliest I knew, and if they were here today, I speculate that things like seminary would have been quite boring to them.

In my life, I have seen a handful of what I would call miracles. From what I can tell, they were moments where the Hand of God was at work. I am humbled and overwhelmed at such a thing. But even these grand spectacles have not allowed me to think that there is a demon behind every bush, an angel behind that bush desperately trying to counteract, and a God sitting in a heavenly control room directing the details. Further, I think of the divine encounters throughout Scripture – God is there but He is not in constant micro-communication with the prophet. Consider the stories of patriarchs like Abraham to apostles like Paul and Peter, they have amazing encounters with God but He was never “on-demand” for them as if He were a genie.

I believe that God is there in all circumstances. In the beautiful times of life, He celebrates with us, receives our praise, and showers us with joy and grace. In the tougher times, He mourns with us, receives our cries and protests, and annoints us with peace and hope. Among many aspects, this is a God that is working on the behalf of those that love Him and those that don’t. The story of Jesus articulates this well.

I hope these posts have been helpful in some respect. As always, feel free to comment whether in disagreement or in whatever you are thinking but thanks for reading.


  1. Solid post. These days, my fall-back response to “why does God allow evil?” is to plagiarize David Bentley Hart (

    “…nowhere does the New Testament rationalize evil or accord it necessity or treat it as part of the necessary fabric of God’s world. All that Christian scripture asserts is that evil cannot defeat God’s purposes or thwart the coming of his kingdom. Divine providence, of course, will always bring about God’s good ends despite — and in a sense through — the evils of this world; but that is not the same thing as saying that evil has a necessary part to play in God’s plans, and that God required evil to bring about the kingdom. As the empty tomb of Christ above all reveals, the verdict of God that rescues and redeems creation also overturns the order of the fallen world, and shatters the powers of historical and natural necessity that the fallen world comprises.”

    I really need to read The Brothers K–one of Hart’s main points draws from Ivan Karamazov rejecting the notion that one should assent to a theology that attributes meaning to suffering. In claiming that God uses atrocities for some greater good, we make God atrocious. Maybe not a satisfying theodicy, but it’s the best one I know.

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