While visiting the cemeteries surrounding the old churches in Cades Cove, Tennessee, my brother and I marveled over the numerous headstones showing children’s names—children who had lived only a few days or months. Children who lived in a place where medical care was scarce and fell far short of today’s standards.
As parents watched their children slowly slip from this life, some of them must have wondered why God allowed this if he was so good. I have had this question posed to me by those who’ve lost children to illnesses or tragedies. And by some who haven’t experienced any personal tragedies but who are trying to rectify in their minds how a good God and the presence of evil can co-exist.
Jeremiah was given the unpleasant task of telling his people that their world would soon crumble because of their disobedience to God. While he understood the consequences of bad choices, he must have cringed at what God told him the pagan marauders would do to his people and his beloved city. “LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous” (Jeremiah 12:1 NLT)?
Evil is present because God allows freedom of choice. This freedom originally extended beyond humans, for initially, Satan was an angel. He and many others chose to rebel against God (Isaiah 41:13-14). With their rebellion, sin entered, and with Adam and Eve’s rebellion, sin entered our world.
Freedom is a part of what makes us human, but it’s also what can lead us into sin. Sin contaminates humanity—and even creation itself.
God is sovereign over evil but temporarily allows it. Why, no one knows. Satan spreads mayhem, but he is limited by God’s power and permission. Job’s dilemma reminds me of this. God’s power is exposed by observing how he takes Satan’s evil intentions and manufactures good from them (Romans 8:28).
Satan may be wreaking havoc, but God is still good and still in control…all the time.