“Why does God let evil things happen?” This is a question I’ve been asked, and have asked myself, so often. I have come to find that it is because God is good. That probably sounds ironic and strange, but let me explain.
Think about your genealogy, and all the thousands and millions of people that lead up to you. You and I are the progeny of wicked people; murderers, rapists, warlords, thieves, slavers, and betrayers. Had God immediately struck those people dead for their sins, you and I would not exist.
Before my dad ever fathered me, he was already a rapist and an abuser. Had my mother’s mother not been a violent abuser and her father deadbeat, she would never have been able to love my dad, being what he was. I would never have existed. You wouldn’t be reading this right now.
Nevertheless, before the foundations of the earth were laid, God loved us. He knew that great evil would have to be temporarily tolerated so that we could come into being. He is not unlike a woman who knows she must endure the agony of pregnancy and labor before holding her baby.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
— Ephesians 1:4–5
None of this is to say that God gives evil a free pass. My dad, a rapist and an abuser, is around 60 years old now. Within about 40 years he will meet God face to face. Every evil on this earth is punished within about 100 years, whether or not our earthly courts ever know it has even occurred.
Those ancestors of ours who were evil didn’t escape justice. Name any unsolved case or uncaught killer — Jack the Ripper, to name a famous one — is in Hell right now. God sees everything. There is no sin, no matter how small or how secret, that escapes his notice.
Yet, thanks to his mercy, he has postponed his justice until the afterlife, so that many people — including you and I — could be born, could live, and could seek his face. And when we die, from God’s perspective, we do not cease to exist. We come home.
“In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye … the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
— 1 Corinthians 15:52–55
Now, like Joseph who was sold to human traffickers by his own brothers, we can boldly tell evil and abusive people:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people would be kept alive, as they are today.”
— Genesis 50:20