Part 1 : The problem of free will
Let’s face it, the year 2020 has been hard to handle. We have seen countless deaths related to COVID, devastation from fires, floods, and hurricanes, civil injustice and unrest, and political parties at each other’s throats. When each month seems to bring its share of problems it’s easy to wonder where God is in all of it. The question of why God let’s bad things happen can cause us to doubt who God really is. Is He really loving? Is He really all powerful? If He is so good why doesn’t he stop all of the evil in the world? These are the questions I intend to explore over the next few sections.
The first place to start is understanding the world we live in. Although its is hard to understand why God allows evil to exist, we need to recognize that God did not create evil in the world. Quite the opposite. In each step of creation God declared it to be good. Mankind was first brought into a world where evil didn’t exist. God’s plan was that we would continue to live in this sinless world for all eternity. It is the choices we make that open the door to evil in our world. It is our choice to listen to God’s instruction and obey or to rely on our own understanding and go our own way.
So the next question might become, why did God give us free will? Couldn’t he just make us obey him? Think about the application in your own life. Raising children we can either impose our will upon them or we can teach them principles enabling them to make their own decisions. How does it feel when you are forced to do something rather than being given a choice? Are you happy when decisions are made for you or do you feel stifled and oppressed? If you had to force someone to love you, would that really be love? God wants to give us the freedom to make these choices for ourselves.
As noted in the movie Matrix Unloaded, “The problem is choice”. The freedom of choice comes with the responsibility of consequences. Because we make different choices we are exposed to both the consequences of our own poor decisions as well as those of others. It seems only natural we should suffer for the wrong we have done. If someone commits murder they should be imprisoned, but it doesn’t necessarily take malice to causing suffering to an innocent. Think about a person who was texting while driving and doesn’t see that their light has turned red. That resulting car accident may kill an entire family of innocents whose driver was obeying traffic laws.
Human beings have to accept their role in the suffering of others and realize that none of us are truly innocent. However, just because suffering occurs does not mean that God has left us alone in it. God has the remarkable ability to take all things, good and bad, to accomplish his purpose. When we realize this we are able to find purpose in the suffering allowing us to refine our character.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28