Teen Bible Study At Dishaws’ June 15, 2000
Why Does a Good God Allow Bad Things to Happen?
Isn’t God good? Doesn’t He love humanity? John 3:16. Then why does He allow bad things to happen to people? God allows wars, famines, disease epidemics, divorces, abortions, murders, robberies, all of which hurt people. Is God all-powerful? Is He not able to prevent these bad things from happening to people? Is He too weak? Rev. 19:6. Could it be God doesn’t know what is going on? Job 21:22.
So if God knows all the bad things that are happening, and has the power to stop all bad things that are happening, and He is good, why doesn’t He stop all these bad things?
First point: The limitations in our own knowledge mean we should be very wary in judging God. And is not that what we’re doing then? What’s the problem in judging God? Isa. 45:9 How can we be certain our judgments are right about God? Isa. 55:8-9; Job 38:1-7; 40:1-9.
The band/orchestra analogy: Are those instruments playing harmony or backup making sounds as interesting as those lead instruments playing the melody? What looks bad from one section looks good from an overall viewpoint (the audience’s).
Second point: What is freedom of the will? Why does it matter? (No external causes FORCE us to choose one course of action instead of another). In the Garden of Eden, God presented Adam and Eve with a choice. He didn’t force them to eat from the tree of life. What tree did He allow them to eat from? He allowed them to choose evil.
Basic overall point: God is 100% righteous yet has 100% freedom of the will. God wants to make other beings like himself who also are 100% righteous yet have 100% freedom of the will. I John 3:1-3; Matt. 5:48. These sons and daughters of God will enter God’s Family, and be just like Him, a perfectly holy righteous spirit Being who will live forever. This is a profound point: It’s why God created the universe and us, and is special knowledge that most Christians in the world don’t have, as sincere as they may be.
Suppose God created a bunch of fleshly robots who would always make the right choices. Would they have freedom then? Would they be just like Him? Or would they be just windup toys? They wouldn’t be truly His sons and daughters, no more than a stuffed animal you would make would be a real pet.
Third point: What do you mean by “love”? How you define “love” is key to explaining why God allows bad things to happen to people. What is “tough love”? C.S. Lewis’s distinction between “love” and “kindness” in The Problem of Pain:
“Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere ‘kindness’ which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect, at the opposite pole from Love. When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Doe we not rather then first begin to care? Does any woman regard it as a sign of love in a man that he neither knows nor cares how she is looking?” (p. 41).
How many of you have pets? Do you love them? Do you ever inflict any kind of pain or unpleasantness on them to teach them something? What about house-training it?
The man-dog analogy (p. 39): “Man interferes with the dog . . . but for less.”
Why is punishment by your parents deep down (be honest!) good for you when you really did do something wrong? *Hebrews 12:6-8.
What is Hedonism?: Purpose of life isn’t to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.
Four: What happens when a kid is “spoiled” by his parents? What does it do to him [to have life too easy]? [Takes things for granted, doesn’t realize the cost of things, such as the new car he got as a gift on his 16th birthday]. Spoiling kids causes them, when grown up, to be superficial people, who lack self-control and an ability to think on the more important things in life; tend to focus on just having fun. When a minister talks about having a “trial,” what does he mean? (not a court case or legal proceeding). [II Pet. 1:5-9, optional]. Why trials are necessary: They develop character, and make us stronger, tougher, deeper people. Undeniably an unpleasant process, but it’s “tough love.” Rom. 5:3-4; James 1:2-4;
Five: Did Jesus suffer pain in His life? Heb. 5:8. Why should we expect to have it any easier? I Pet. 2:19-23; 4:12-13+. Suffering for doing what is RIGHT.
Six: Avoidable pain: Self-inflicted trials. Consequences of being lazy in school or on the job, getting fired or not promoted, or drifting from one low-paying job to another in late teens, early twenties. Problems such as a girl having a baby when not married messing up the rest of her life.