More than any other question, this one seems to be the one that gets more people riled up than any other, whether they’re believers or not. I can safely say it’s the single most often asked question when I’m trying to justify my faith to people. There are lots of answers, some of them deep and requiring you to cite Thomas Aquinas and Socrates, but there is also a really simple answer:
“Because people are screw ups.”
God created us and gave us ONE rule. Just one. And we broke it before sundown. Don’t eat this. It wasn’t a tough rule, it was actually for our own good. But just like with your four-year-old sneaking mouthfuls of Play Doh when your back is turned, we ate it. We sinned. And it caused us to all be sinners.
“But I wasn’t there, I didn’t eat it.”
Well, you would have. We’re all sinners. We all do bad things.
One of the hardest things for me to let go of from my childhood in church was the concept of different “kinds” of sin. Much love to the Catholic church and all, but there’s nothing in the Bible that says God thinks some sins are bigger than others. Funny, there are A LOT of Protestants (the denominations who don’t believe in “levels” of sin) who will blatantly gossip about someone, then condemn a gay man. As though somehow those two sins aren’t equally horrible in the eyes of the Lord?
But back to us being wretched, bad people who caused all the bad things of the world to happen…
We brought sin into the world, and we’re suffering for it. In the Garden, God used to come down and walk with Adam and Eve after dinner, hanging out, chatting, playing Jenga (I made that up), but they caused the separation when they brought sin into God’s perfect world.
The other side of the coin in this question is that some of the things are NOT God’s will. I’ve stood right next to someone as the man told a grieving mother that “God killed her son in order to teach us all something. We don’t know what of course, but it was part of God’s plan.”
Bullshit. A man with a gun doing Satan’s work killed her son. Could God have stopped it? Maybe. I don’t really know how all that works. But I do know that God didn’t kill this woman’s child just to teach her a lesson. He taught her plenty of lessons with the Bible, and didn’t need to reinforce the concepts with murder. He’s bigger than that.
Bad happens. That’s a fact. It won’t stop happening until the end of days. I don’t know all the ins and outs of why it happens, but I do know that I have a Father and a Savior watching over me at all times. I am prepared to fight evil around me, and to try to lead others to the comfort that only my Father’s arms can provide.