Good and Evil
We have covered a lot of information up to this point, and if you have stuck with me through all of it then I am truly grateful. I pray that this article will give you an even deeper understanding of how and why God will allow bad things to happen to us. As we work our way through this topic we need to make sure that we remember that God is always good and always has our best interests in mind. This is the fifth article of this series, and once again I think you will get the most out of this article if you read the other articles first. The list of articles is as follows:
Good and Evil
We are all very aware of the fact that there is good and evil that exists in this world. Let’s remember that God did not create evil but the world, and the world that God created in Genesis was very good (Genesis 1:31). That very good world included man and woman. We were made good by God, but still given free will. Well, that gift of freedom was misused by man and led to sin, pain, suffering and death. It’s not God’s fault that man took something good and used it for evil. Similarly, a hammer was designed to drive nails, help build houses and do other hammer specific tasks. If somebody takes a hammer and kills another person with it, that fault doesn’t fall on the hammer manufacturer but the person who used the hammer for evil. The hammer was designed to do hammer tasks and murder was not one of those tasks that it was designed for. This is an example of somebody taking something planned for good and using it for evil. That is what mankind did, and still does, with the gifts given to us by God. We used them for evil and corrupted the entire system.
Even with that said, it is important to understand that you can’t have evil separate from good. They need each other to survive. An earthly example of this is to imagine a large branch from a tree, whether it is still in the tree or has fallen to the ground. Picture your branch and answer this question, is it straight or is it warped/crooked? How do you know? You can’t know what straight is unless you know what warped or crooked is. In the same way, you can’t know what warped or crooked is unless you know what straight is. You can’t know one without knowing the other. This is the same concept with good and evil. How can you say something is good unless you know what evil is? Again, the opposite is also true. Good and evil need one another in order for us to know what is good and what is evil.
Who is Good?
There is no such thing as a “good” person because we have all sinned due to the original sin that entered into the world through Adam and Eve. Sin now dwells within the heart of each and every one of us. Because of that, we can’t possibly be good. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” If somebody told you that they have never sinned, is guilty of sin just by telling you that. There has only ever been one truly good person and that was Jesus. 1 Peter 1:19 states that the, “precious blood of Christ, [is] like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” This is referring back to the old law given to the Israelites in Exodus. Their sacrificial animals were to be spotless and perfect in the sight of the Lord, just as Jesus was. And what happened to the only good person who ever walked this world? He was mocked, tortured and died on the cross for all of our sins. Why did God allow this evil against His own son? God knew that through Jesus’ sacrifice something better was going to come. Without the death of Jesus there couldn’t have been a resurrection. Without the resurrection, Jesus couldn’t have redeemed us from the sin that plagued us. Without that redemption, we couldn’t have had freedom from sin. That redemption required a perfect sacrifice of the only good person who ever lived. Often, when we struggle or when we are tested, it is because there is something better on the other side. If God is willing to put His own son through that torture and disgrace then why wouldn’t He allow us to go through trials ourselves? He will and He does. Every day there is pain, struggles and suffering in this world, but we have to remember that Jesus went through it too.
On April 29, 2019 my oldest sister lost her two year battle with cancer. She celebrated her 43rd birthday a couple days before she passed, and in our eyes she was a good person. The truth, however, is that she had sinned in her life, and we know that because everybody has sinned (and I, like everybody in my family, have stories about my sister). The whole situation left us wondering why something like that would happen to her. It was in that time leading up to her passing that I really started diving into this idea of why bad things happen to good people. Now, over three years later, we see the good that came from her passing. It was through her pain and suffering that many of us found Christ. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m sure any member of my family would give anything to have her with us again, but that’s not an option. At the time of her passing we didn’t see anything good about it, but we had to gather ourselves and move on. I’m saying that even through those hard times, we found good on the other side. If you look back at the hard times you went through in your life, you can probably see how God carried you through as well. God never leaves us, forsakes us, abandons us, but instead carries us through so we can grow in faith and love. Faith is not faith unless it is tested, and the Lord will test us.
Is God Bad for Allowing Evil?
There are many people in this world who claim that a good, loving, righteous, all knowing, all powerful God would never allow bad things to happen to good people. And for that reason God must be inherently evil. My response to that is to read the Bible in context. There is plenty of evidence that disproves that above statement. If we look at John 3:16-17 we see it say, “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” This is telling us that even though God will allow bad things to happen, it comes from a place of love. God wants us to fulfill the good and perfect will that He has for us in our lives. Therefore, when bad things happen, it should be viewed as an opportunity for growth. As an attempt by God to put us back on the path that He originally planned for us.
Something else to remember is that God is protecting us from evil every single day of our lives. If we get off track and God has to allow some evil through in order to bump us back on the right path is not a justifiable reason to assume that God is evil. To assume that would be dangerous. Afterall, how do we know that God isn’t protecting us from evil? I live my life with the belief, although it is technically a promise, that God is always with me. Therefore, I believe that God always has my best interest in mind and will therefore guide my day in accordance with His will. Again, I live in this mindset because of what the Bible tells me and because of what I ask for in my daily prayer life. By living in this mindset, when something that some may consider bad happens to me, I can assume it is for a good reason. If I walk out to my car in the morning to leave for work and realize I forgot my keys in the house which makes me leave a few minutes later than originally planned, well that may be a part of God’s plan. I may leave and go to work without incident and not have a second thought about the situation, but if I had left when I had originally planned then I may have met somebody who ran a stop sign. By met I mean the front of their car may have met the side of my car or vice versa. However, since I was delayed, that person may have still run the stop sign but there was nobody on the road around them and therefore nobody got hurt. I was protected by the forgetting of my keys and they, with any hope, learned how close they could have come to killing someone. This scenario may sound far-fetched and extreme, but it actually happened to me. I wasn’t the one who forgot their keys, but the one who ran the stop sign.
The story goes like this, it was very early in the morning and I was on my way to work. I was young, arrogant and, most importantly, extremely tired. I knew I was tired and shouldn’t be driving, but I had to go to work. I remember trying different things to keep myself awake, but they weren’t working. I woke up just in time to realize I was at an intersection of a state route that was normally very busy and didn’t stop for the road I was on. Because I had no other choice I blew the stop sign. Luckily, the road I was on continued on the other side of this intersection and there were no cars going either direction as I went through. Needless to say, that woke me up for the rest of my drive. I realized how lucky I was. I could have easily been killed or killed somebody else. As time goes on and I grow deeper in my faith, I wonder if somebody didn’t forget their keys that morning. Maybe somebody’s car wouldn’t start. Maybe a vehicle pulled out in front of somebody else and drove way too slow and disrupted that somebody’s drive. There are an immeasurable number of scenarios that could have protected me that morning as well as somebody that I will never know, and it was all thanks to the Lord’s invisible protection. Afterall, how are we supposed to know He is working in our lives unless we actually see the results? The answer is we won’t and we can’t. That is why we need the evil of this world so that we can see the good.
In case I haven’t given enough examples of how God views us and uses evil to do good, let’s look at another example. This time let’s look at a medical oncologist. You may wonder what that word means, and I will tell you. A medical oncologist is a doctor that specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer with chemotherapy, radiation, or other drugs. I just told you earlier in this article that I lost a sister to cancer. During her two year battle, she had a team of medical oncologists that were helping her make decisions on her best path for recovery. One of those decisions was to go through chemotherapy. If you know somebody who has gone through this, or if you yourself have gone through it, then you know that it is a brutal and painful process. Well, these medical oncologists are not suggesting that you go through chemotherapy because they receive joy from putting others through pain. They do it because they love you. Anybody in that field has to love people in order to deal with that type of suffering every day. This includes the doctors, nurses, lab techs and so on. They don’t want their patients to suffer, but they also know that through the pain and suffering comes the possibility of healing. God takes this same approach to pain and suffering. He doesn’t want to see us struggle in life. He doesn’t want to see us cry or moan in agony. God wants us to thrive, but at the same time He knows that we have to go through bad to get to good. We have to go through the pain and suffering in order to get to a place where we can thrive. Therefore, evidence points us to the fact that pain and suffering gives us more evidence for God’s love for us than it does for God being evil.
To Be Continued…
As I’ve stated before, there is a lot of information to cover on this topic. Therefore, for the sake of everybody’s sanity, I have chosen to break this idea of God’s role in bad things happening into two articles. In this article we looked into good and evil, why they need each other, that nobody is good except Jesus, and that God isn’t evil for allowing bad things to happen. In the next article we will look at some reasons for pain and suffering, as well as explore biblical evidence to support them. Look for that article to come out soon.