Why does God allow bad things to happen?

Why do bad things happen? Does God allow or let things happen in life? More here.

minute read

Your question of “why God allows bad things to happen” makes a few suppositions.

First, you are supposing that God just “allows” the bad things to happen, as if He’s lazy or indifferent or something. Would you ever ask “why does God allow good things to happen?” or if things are good do you say that He “made” them happen? But let’s put that on hold for a minute.

Secondly, you suppose that events “happen.” Happen implies an accident. Like a mishap or happenstance. Do you believe that the events of this world are designed or that they are accidental? Or is it just the “bad” stuff that just “happens”? But that brings us back to the same question we just put on hold.

Third and finally, you assume that there are events that are “bad.” What does bad mean? Does it mean evil as in “morally wrong”? How can an event be morally wrong? A person’s behavior can be morally wrong, but you didn’t ask “How can people do things that are morally wrong?” You asked why God allows bad things to happen.

So, allow me to not answer your question but change your question around into three questions.

1. Does God orchestrate all the events of our lives?
2. Does anything just happen?
3. Can an event be bad?

To answer these three questions:

1. Yes, God supervises and controls everything that takes place in my life. If He doesn’t make it, it doesn’t exist.

2. Nothing creates itself and nothing makes itself happen. All events are the effects of the Cause of All Causes bringing them about.

3. An event can be painful. I can even hate an event or get angry about an event (even though it doesn’t do a bit of good to do so.) But an event has no free choice and thus cannot be “bad” in the moral sense.

So, let’s go back to your question and how about we rephrase it like this? “Does God orchestrate events in my life that are painful?”

You bet He does.

But you know what? I can live with that truth a whole lot better than I can live with the lie that He just “allows bad things to happen.”

About the author
Rabbi Shais Taub is one of today's most respected young scholars of Jewish spirituality and practice. National Public Radio called him "an expert in Jewish mysticism and the Twelve Steps." He is the author of God of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction.
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