Why Doesn’t God Get Rid of Evil Now?
By Ben Sharp
If God is truly powerful and loves us, why doesn’t he just get rid of evil now?
You don’t have to live for long to know that evil is a part of this world. From North Korea’s nuclear threats to the F5 tornado that decimated Oklahoma to the rising incidents of cancer globally, there seems to be a tidal wave of bad circumstances out there just waiting to crash down upon us. It’s like playing a cosmic lottery—only in this game, no one wants a winning ticket.
Many seek God in such times, believing he has the power—and the compassion—to combat these forces of evil. But this raises a pressing question: If God is loving and all-powerful, then why doesn’t he just get rid of evil right now?
Walking in God’s Shoes
Trying to answer that question may be akin to walking in shoes that are simply too big for us. We have no guarantee that God understands things as we do. In fact, if we’re speaking of a creator God—a God massive enough to create the entire universe—why would we expect his thoughts to be on our level?
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The Bible, which many believe to be a partial revelation of God’s character and a recording of his relationship with humanity, says outright that God’s ways are not like ours: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”1
God’s plans transcend time and space. They are so far above our limited understanding that even if there was more information out there explaining his character and person, we would likely still never fully comprehend his actions, still never understand the grandness of or purpose behind his plans.
The Bible speaks of this in many passages, perhaps the most well-known of which is found in the book of Job. When Job questions why God has allowed him to experience devastating pain and suffering, God reminds Job of his divine knowledge and power—which far exceeds Job’s own understanding of his temporary suffering: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? . . . Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” God asks Job. “Tell me, if you understand.”2
In the New Testament, Jesus speaks to this issue on the eve of his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. As soldiers draw near to take him into custody, one of Jesus’ disciples strikes a soldier with a sword. Jesus’ response? He heals the wounded man and says, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”3 You can almost feel Jesus’ desperate wish that his disciples could understand what was happening, almost hear him saying, “If only you could understand! In the long run, this is for your own good!”
Moments earlier, while contemplating his impending, horridly painful death by crucifixion, Jesus revealed through prayer his utmost devotion to his heavenly father—even when his father’s will included inevitable and extreme suffering for Jesus. Jesus’ fear and natural human desire to avoid pain did not override his faith: “My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will,”4 he prayed.
Yet just knowing that God’s ways are not our own seems to oversimplify why evil is allowed to exist…