An Illustration to Help Reconcile God’s Sovereignty with Evil

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 04/02/2015

Two regular commenters on my “Christians, You Will Suffer” post had an exchange worth sharing with everyone. “Goat Head 5” was objecting to the idea that anyone would say God is sovereign over the evil that happens in this world. Below are some of his and “WisdomLover’s” thoughts on this (with some reformatting and combination of separate comments by me for the sake of brevity):

WISDOMLOVER: You want a case of God willing evil on an innocent victim, and I give you the example of Christ…. God apparently allows the suffering of innocent people. What is more, He has all the power in the world to prevent those sufferings….

Let’s suppose my daughter is learning to ride a bicycle. Also suppose that I am perfectly capable, and do, run alongside the bicycle…. At the slightest sign of her falling over I can steady her, or, if need be, snatch her from the bicycle. I can, of course, also allow her to fall over.

None of this takes a thing away from the fact that my daughter freely rides the bicycle, that she freely kept herself from falling.

But I am also in control of whether she falls over.

GOAT HEAD 5: How could God be in control when I do what He does not want done? … How do you reconcile the Bible saying God is good with your theological idea that God wants every evil action to happen so much that He controls every event to make sure that it does? How can these coexist?

WISDOMLOVER: In my example of the father and the bicycling child. The father is in control of whether the child falls or not. He does not want the child ever to fall, he actually hates it. For all that, he may choose to let the child fall, he may even push the child over, for all sorts of reasons that are more important than preventing what he hates….

To return to the example, the father might cause the very fall that he hates to prevent the child from getting run over. (Because he hates that even more, you see).

Couldn’t it be that the evil we see in this world (that God hates) is necessary to prevent other evils that God would hate even more than the evils he allows or even causes?

Just as the child might never see the car that would have run her over...the car that required that her father push the bike over, perhaps we will never see the reason God had for causing or allowing the evil in our lives that He does.

It comes down to this. Are we going to trust in God’s love for us? Or trust in our own wisdom about how things should be?

GOAT HEAD 5: If God is in control, and control is that what God wants to happen, happens, and evil happens, then God wants evil to happen. Is this OK with all of you?

WISDOMLOVER: In the bicycle example, the father’s will wins whenever the will of the father and the will of the child come into conflict. God, like the father in the bicycle example, wills that necessary evils happen. Whether that’s OK with me or not, the evils are necessary. I suppose I could rail against necessity as the child does. Or I could trust in God to only allow necessary evils.

You can read the unedited exchange between all the commenters here.

As this is Holy Week—a time when we commemorate the week Christ suffered great evil at the hands of men as part of the plan of God—this subject is particularly relevant.