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Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?

April 19, AD2013

\"Gary

Why would a loving God allow bad things to happen?

The recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon certainly brings this question to the minds of many people. If God really loves us, why does He allow us to suffer? Why does He permit terrorism, child abuse and natural disasters to occur? While the brutally honest and truthful answer is that “He’s God and He knows what He’s doing”, there are a few specific points that can help us to better understand these tragedies. And, quite frankly, understanding them can often make the difference between moving closer to the Lord or turning our backs on Him.

Free Will – God loves us so much that He gives us the gift of free will. This means that while we are free to do good, we also have the ability to do evil. The person or persons who caused the explosions in Boston chose to commit an evil act. In no way did God cause this to happen. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):

Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it. (CCC 311)

Greater Good – In his Letter To The Romans, St. Paul states that “We know that IN EVERYTHING God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine) Not just the good things, but the bad things too. How is it possible that good can result from the mutilation and murder of innocent people? While I don’t claim to understand all of God’s reasons, there are a few obvious ones that stand out. When tragedy occurs, we get to see people helping one another. Every time a tragedy takes place, there are numerous stories of heroism and genuine love of neighbor that emerge. We also see an increase in prayer. Many people who aren’t used to praying suddenly “hit their knees”. We’re also reminded of our mortality and how we’re not really in control of our own destiny.

In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: “It was not you”, said Joseph to his brothers, “who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” From the greatest moral evil ever committed – the rejection and murder of God’s only Son, caused by the sins of all men – God, by his grace that “abounded all the more”,brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good. (CCC 312)

Trust – When tragic events occur, we are given an opportunity to trust God. It is during the dark times that we must truly “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). When skies are blue, it’s a lot easier for us to trust than during storms. However, storms often give us the best chance to grow closer to the Lord.

We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”, will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth. (CCC 314)

An Invitation – When bad things happen, either in our own life or in the lives of others, we are invited to assist God in bringing good out of evil. We can do this by praying. Although the Lord doesn’t need our help, He allows us to help Him through the act of prayer.

Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm. (CCC 2635)

Heaven – As much as we’d like it to be, this world is not perfect. Pain and suffering do exist. Accepting this will cause us to remain calm when these events occur. In addition, it will increase our desire for heaven, where there is NO PAIN AND SUFFERING!

We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ.

Although it’s not easy, it’s crucial for us to keep our eye on the Lord when “bad things” happen. Blaming Him for the suffering, although understandable, is neither accurate or wise. If we truly believe that He loves us, we should strive to see His goodness in everything. Doing so will bring us great peace, even in times of turmoil.

© 2013. Gary Zimak. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

Filed in: Faith & Spirituality • Tags:

About the Author:

Gary Zimak is a full time Catholic speaker, author and radio host. In addition to hosting Following The Truth on Blogtalkradio (M-F at 8 PM Eastern), Gary is a frequent guest on EWTN, Relevant and Sirius/XM Radio. He is the author of A Worrier's Guide To The Bible , Listen To Your Blessed Mother and From Fear To Faith. A frequent speaker at parishes and conferences, Gary is the leading Catholic speaker on the topic of overcoming anxiety. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Eileen and daughters Mary and Elizabeth.

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  • Ian

    Once mankind had free will and he she had greater powers and not the limited 5 senses we have now. Humanity has been shut down from their true potential, this was done by evil beings who hijacked this planet long ago, this is also where the link with the devil comes from. Humanity has been held as a prisoner on planet prison Earth everything including belief systems were set up. I say why has God allowed this to continue for about 5,000 years? when it is humanities desire to progress on the spiritual level, yet with more than half your mind shut down how are we to find our way out of this mess. They say we are in the times of waking up and those who have committed this crime on humanity will be removed by God. Humanity is really super human but in the shut down state we are no more than programmed robots, serving a system. I do not believe that we will be lifted up by so called watchers from the stars who claim to be concerned, when things on this planet could be stopped, after all if you can have a beam ship, and move between different worlds, then you would have the technology to not only shut down nuclear military sites, you could destroy every man made weapon of war off this planet. So it seems this planet is in the grip of those who want it, and they want to keep humanity from finding out the real truth. I am sure if humanity ever gets back their true existence in the universes and happened to pass a planet, of a lower dimensional order like Earth they would lend a hand, but is seems all these so called watchers are afraid to get their hands dirty, in case they may cause harm and this will throw their development backwards. I can understand this I you have risen to a spiritual level, you would not want to throw your self backwards. But as I said they would have the technology to freeze weapons, make them useless, they could help people suffering through no fault of their own. So we have a powerful elite on this planet who are trying to cause a third world war and the mindless stupid people are being sucked in. I think it is time these beings opened up, showed themselves and put an end to the wicked evil on this planet Or will we have to free ourselves and the only way we can do this is to understand what really has happened to this world and humanity. If Jesus is true, then he is the only one humanity can have faith in, to day we see the mass of humanity acting like sheep or programmed robots, the last couple of generations who have no idea how this world was a few decades ago. We did have a lot more freedom, which is now being taken away from us, by lies. I do believe humanity will destroy them selves rather than live in the light of God and that will be an end.

  • Truth

    Especially for the people like us that are still Single and Don’t want to be.

  • Roy

    Especially with many of us that have been Punished with No love life.

  • David Johnson

    It is my will to not be blown up by some terrorist’s bomb. It is the will of the terrorist to blow me up. It appears that the only will God cares about, is the will of the violent and never the will of the passive. This argument must include the fact that God is more concerned about the free-will of the rapist over the free-will of the raped.

    • The rock

      Well Every one on this is a fool on this blog. no need to keep posting things since everyone has their mind made up and no one is going to change. I only am posting to let all know that the day you die, than you will know if their is a god or not and if their is not than it will not matter 100% since you will never have any recall of anything…………

    • David Johnson

      I respectfully disagree. I have my current point of view from people providing me things to think on. I thought foolish things, but people were willing to take the time for a fool and I’m glad they did. This is me paying it forward, even if 99.99% dismiss it out-of-hand.

      As far as God goes, I know, at this very moment, that there is no God or, to put it another way, nothing in Heaven has any noticeable impact on life here. When I die, my involvement with this world ends. Knowing this, I can live life as if there is no God. This is why most people cry at funerals, because that person will make no new impact on this planet.

      I really don’t think most people believe in God anyways. Look at all these old religious people trying to live to 100. They rarely look like they are in a rush to the Pearly Gates.

  • Yeshua Christo

    God doesn’t prevent terrible things from happening because:

    A) He can’t
    B) He doesn’t want to
    C) He causes them
    D) He doesn’t exist

    Please vote now.

  • JM

    Well he is certainly punishing me with singleness.

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  • Seriously Very True

    Well he certainly just created too many very nasty women out there nowadays that are very disrespectful to us men when we will try to start a conversation with the one that attracts us, and the women of today are certainly nothing like the real good ladies like we had years ago that were much easier to meet when money wasn’t an issue like many of them are looking for today. Now we have just too many very stuck up high maintenance women out there, and they are so sad and very pathetic.

  • Inquirer

    Personally I find none of the reasons stated above as convincing following are my reasons

    1.If child murderer is stopped how many people’s free will , will be affected ?.. just the murderer’s by interfering God can save the child and the family of the child the anguish as well. So even if God is making this choice it is a stupid one.

    2.Greater Good- let good come but why should good come by bad things, why does the omnipotent god not make good things happen through Good things ?

    3.Trust & Prayer- Sorry not convincing since if this is the way God has to convince people then he is nothing but a Sadist.

    4.Heaven- Why even have a heaven, let him make this earth itself a heaven free from all suffering , misery and let it be full or joy.

    In short if an omnipotent God does not stop all misery, then it simply means he is not willing to and is a Sadist.

    • tony

      To answer your question the devil is here with us on earth god is not if you want proof read genesis and it will tell you genesis 3:1-5 yall are very lost I hope one day each and every one of you will find the truth one day…the devil told god that he mankind doesnt need him and that god is liar and that we dont need a god that we will eventually stop needing and beliving him…also the devil wants us to prove to god that we dont but we do hes our creqtor who gave us life hes testing us guys that is all dont worry about the innocent kids but just know that they will be saved
      P.s. if god would have destroyed mankind and the devil wouldnt god just be contradicting himself

  • Skyler Fenn

    I believe the unfairness on Earth is a related repercussion stemming from the Fall of Adam and Eve. After they partook of the forbidden fruit, the Lord God told Adam and Eve that “cursed is the ground for [their] sake; in sorrow shalt [they] eat of it all the days of [their] life” (Genesis 3:7). Similarly, we go through suffering by our choices. God continues to allow our choices and the appropriate consequences to occur because he loves us just like Adam and Eve. And like a loving father, God wants us to learn for ourselves. This imperfect world is actually the perfect school to learn the opposition that exists in all things. He never abandons us either; Our God is here to support us every step of the way.

    If you want to know about why God allows suffering, read from Cherie’s experience:
    http://www.reallifeanswers.org/2013/03/04/why-does-god-allow-suffering/

    • Phil Dzialo

      So God is punishing innocent children for the acts of two people about 60,000 years ago (when homo sapiens achieved behavioral normalcy)” Logic is absent…so is an anthropomorphic diety..

  • angela

    When pondering this topic, I am struggling with the idea of miracles. If God is able to perform miracles that defy the laws of physics, why doesn’t he intervene, or if he does intervene, why not more often? Are His miracles mostly worked out with the cooperation of people, like calling someone to help the poor? And by refusing to do it someone goes without food? I realize that I can’t comprehend all of it, but it really feels like God doesn’t love us when he doesn’t seem to intervene. I find this especially true when people brag about all the blessings they received from the Lord. Like God only intervenes if he likes us. I’m not saying that’s true, but it definitely can feel that way. How can we stop feeling that way? And if we prone to question so much, why didn’t God make us a little less intelligent?

    • Angela,
      I hear very clearly your angst in pondering tough questions. My son drowned after 25 minutes under water at a camp…was revived at a trauma center and is alive and totally disabled. God did not hev nor save him. Why? No cures? Why”
      After 15 years of caring for him, and reflecting deeply, I have come to believe that our man-made version of God is not real. God is not a person, we are not tainted by some early primates sin, pleasure is good and pain is to be alleviated. There is an energetic source of which we are all part…always were and always be. We just made the mistake in believing men who falsely believed they were talking for a god…made them like gods. There is a source and fountain of energy that we each discover for ourselves…not an anthropomorphic man-made deity.

    • Angel

      Phil,

      I am so sorry about the tragic drowning of your son. I can tell you are hurt and looking for answers that no man has ever been able to give you. One of the reasons is in 1John 5:19 where it tells us who the real ruler of this world is. But there is hope and there are answers to why bad things happen to good people. I’m going to attach a link here, it’s a book called, “What Does the Bible Really Teach?”. You, along with thousands of other people are looking for answers that God’s Word, the Bible has for you. Read Chapter 3 and 11, for they pertain directly to this articles questions.

      http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/bible-teach/why-does-god-allow-suffering/

      Be well,

      Angel

    • You can’t be serious sending me to a link on a Jehovah Witness site….If I looked for answers that cult would be the last place I would look.

  • Longshanks

    God lets bad things happen because too busy trying to figure out how not to be nonextant to stop them.

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  • Well, I do not think that God (the Source) allows good things to happen no bad things to happen. No good being would stand by and watch evil proliferate; no good being would allow children to be killed without intervene is he has the ability to intervene….I believe that God set in motion a series of creative events carried forward by the evolutionary and process which presently culminated in we, primates. In all species and sun-species, especially primates there exists good and evil…one quality could not exist without the other. God? He set it in motion, allows it to continue along an path of evolution of consciousness and does not intervene, no matter how much we hope he would…he leave the evolution of life and consciousness to man. We create our destiny..that is why good and evil exist. There is no need to rely on the concept of God to explain or understand good nor evil.

    • Mike Loffreda

      Jesus was nailed to the cross for us for our sins whipped beat up and spit on he defeated the devil for our eternity and we ask where he is ?He told us not to be of this world but we keep asking

    • Phil Dzialo

      @Mike…my son has been a spastic quad, non mobile, non verbal and 100% dependent on me for care…just what sin did he commit that Jesus was nailed to a cross and whipped. Some, and it is not a small proportion of people are literally incapable of sin…..logis fails.

    • Mike Loffreda

      I can say allot but your hurting you don’t want to hear anything about Love. Your love that your son needs to keep breathing and the dedication on your part
      you never give up one day your son will be 100% in heaven so until that day let people see that God lives in us while were still here on earth.this life of 70-90 years is short but eternity is Forever!and to those that believe in Jesus will never die but live in peace forever.God is watching our moves and how we react he can bless the worst situation.My son was in a auto accident 3 years ago without details and 1 year of rehab is walking with a paralysed right leg not far and cant work due to his brain injury.We will make it through these times on earth remember God never leaves us he is always with us Satan would like to play with our minds and get us against God and loving one another.
      One day we will be in perfection and to those who refuse him wow I don’t want to be on that side.

    • NurseTammy

      You puzzle me Phil. You say that you don’t believe in the God that we all collect here to discuss yet you return to THIS place over and over and tell us of your pain. I wonder what you are looking for. Do you go to Mormon sites and Evangelical sites and Humanist sites and Hindu sites looking for answers? What is it about Catholicism that intrigues you enough that you return here regularly to tell us that our religion is not big enough to deal with your pain?

      Are you waiting for a person with great faith to tell a story of pain that is worse than yours? There are parts to my story that are sucky enough that I could make you shift in your seat with discomfort were I to tell you the whole truth but really there is nothing to be gained in comparing pain. Pain and loss is pain and loss and its all horrible.

      You are invited to enter into a communion with God to experience it WITH Him if you choose but in the end even He wont violate your free will. It does take a leap of faith to decide that you are ready to see that God is bigger than your pain even when your pain is big.

    • Phil Dzialo

      Let me explain….I never said that I do not believe in the the SOURCE…I do not believe in the anthropomorphic representation of God who is given certain attributes by men. Humans reached behavioral normalcy about 60,000 years ago without a clue about the Bible and the RCC and they were also good people. Christianity is only 2,000 years old. Why would the SOURCE wait 58,000 years to reveal the SPIRIT which energetically binds us all.
      I periodically comment on this site when a post runs against my every belief I have integrated over 66 years. I was born a RC and was a member of a RCC religious order for 8 years…I left and found answers in myself. I visit and comment on sites of many religions not just RCC.

      I do not look for answers from religion but I try to communicate that a worthy life can be lived independent of any sect and I try to live my life that way. I also challenge beliefs which I believe are simplistic and ritualistic and which do not place an absolute priority on our duty to all people.

      I guess this quote summarizes my position best:

      “No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them”

      ― Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and humanitarian

    • Mike Loffreda

      Funny seeing how the world is only 6600 years old.

      Universal Christian that believes Jesus is the son of God born of a virgin named Mary. Simple and he taught us to Love one another.

    • Phil Dzialo

      Where did you get the idea that the world is 6600 years old? The oldest human remains and DNA are 400,000 years old…normalcy is 60,000 years ago.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/science/at-400000-years-oldest-human-dna-yet-found-raises-new-mysteries.html?_r=0

      Horus (considered Egyptian God-Man)was born of the virgin Isis at least 3000 BC, preached a Sermon on the Mount, crucified and resurrected three days later. Title KRST, the anointed one. Nothing is that simple!

    • Mike Loffreda

      The bible time line truth

    • Phil Dzialo

      @Mike , Please provide the direct biblical reference and not make statements which fly in the face of logic and science.

      According to reliable radiometric dating techniques used by geologists, the Earth is at least 4.5 billion years old (that’s 4,500,000,000 years before present). This is based on measurements on outcrops of very ancient rocks(not fossils – a widely believed misconception!). But these rocks themselves were probably been derived from even older rocks which formed the first-formed continental crust.

      Nowhere in the Bible is the age of the Earth mentioned.

    • Mike Loffreda

      http://creation.mobi/how-old-is-the-earth
      [image: Disqus] Settings
      A new comment was posted on Catholic Stand —————————— *Phil Dzialo*
      @Mike , Please provide the direct biblical reference and not make statements which fly in the face of logic and science.

      According to reliable radiometric dating techniques used by geologists, the Earth is at least 4.5 billion years old (that’s 4,500,000,000 years before present). This is based on measurements on outcrops of very ancient rocks(not fossils – a widely believed misconception!). But these rocks themselves were probably been derived from even older rocks which formed the first-formed continental crust.

      Nowhere in the Bible is the age of the Earth mentioned.

      10:11 a.m., Tuesday March 11
      * Reply to Phil Dzialo *
      Phil Dzialo’s comment is in reply to *Mike Loffreda*:
      The bible time line truth

      Read more ——————————

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    • Mike Loffreda

      There is facts and faith I’m sorry but I’m a believer in Gods word not something man made up.

    • Phil Dzialo

      @Michael… And where are God’s words specifically that the earth is 6,000 years old…stop evading the question. Faith is based on something…where are his words? in the Bible?

    • Mike Loffreda

      I sent a link to you with biblical facts

    • Phil Dzialo
    • Phil Dzialo

      So let’s look at what Pope Benedict and the Vatican say:

      “According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the ‘Big Bang’ and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5 – 4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo sapiens. With the development of the human brain, the nature and rate of evolution were permanently altered: with the introduction of the uniquely human factors of consciousness, intentionality, freedom and creativity, biological evolution was recast as social and cultural evolution.” (From the International Theological Commission, headed by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger now Pope Benedict XVI, statement “Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God,” plenary sessions held in Rome 2000-2002, published July 2004)

    • Mike Loffreda

      So phil I asked you in the private email who do you choose in the end would you like to be with God for eternity?or the devil for eternity .I’m just trying to figure out what the point is to all this did God speak the world into existence with his word?or do we continue to read other writers perspective and opinions on earth .are you a Christian or a agnostic…

    • Mike Loffreda

      This is good watch this all for the glory of God while on earth.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKTg_INHgpc

  • Cathy Harrell

    Another thing to note is that Jesus did not triumph over evil without suffering. He asked (in Gethsemane), but he knew the answer. Suffering gives us the opportunity to come closer to God through Jesus Christ but its reminder that we are not in control.