Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Do Bad Guys Sometimes Win?

A child is abducted and killed and the murderer is never found. A retired couple lose their life's savings through an investment scam and the con artist escapes to live a life of luxury overseas. A gang member murders a woman and goes free on a legal technicality. Where is God in these situations?  Why do the bad guys sometimes win?

I was talking with a friend whose husband had an affair, left her, and moved in with another woman.  His actions not only devastated his wife but also his teen-aged sons. My friend was confused--why would God do this to her?

In Psalm 73, Aspah, a faithful servant of God, had similar questions. He looked at all the wicked, arrogant people around him who were living healthy, carefree lives.  And he wondered if he had followed God in vain because his own life was not so carefree.

Sometimes things don’t make sense to us, and we begin to see God as the source of our sorrow. The abandoned wife confuses God with her husband…God has abandoned her. The bankrupt couple confuses God with the scam artist…God has cheated them out of their life savings. It is part of our fallen human nature to blame God during difficulties. We let situations change our view of God instead of letting God change our view of situations.

When I am tempted to do this, I try to remember these facts about human suffering and evil:

1. Man, not God, brought suffering into the world. God created a world without sorrow or pain, but mankind messed it up by ignoring God's clear warnings (Genesis 1-3). Our present world is the best possible world for restoring mankind to God, but it is not the best possible world.

2. God gave us the freedom to make choices, and that freedom allows for bad choices as well as good. According to C.S. Lewis God "thought freedom worth creating even at that price."

3. Perfect justice will prevail, but not necessarily on earth (Revelation 22:12). 

4. I only see the little picture; my perspective is limited.  God sees the big picture; his perspective is infinite  (1 Corinthians 13:12).

5. How I respond to evil and suffering matters, even when I can't make sense of it (Proverbs 3:5).

6. God doesn’t promise to make every husband faithful, every businessman honest, and every court decision fair. But He promises He will never leave me (Hebrews 13:5,6), He promises to comfort me (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), and He promises to make bad things work for my good if I trust Him (Romans 8:28).

In Psalm 73, Asaph began with confusion and questions but ended with reminders of  God’s faithfulness.  My friend and I did the same.  We still have questions, but we've decided to concentrate on God's character--His purity, love, justice and wisdom, knowing that one day He will answer all of our questions and wipe away all of our tears (Revelation 21:4). WOW!

What about you?  How has God taught you in this area? Please leave your comments and questions below.

Gail writes one-minute devotions each weekday on her site Bible Love Notes. To subscribe to her one-minute devotions and have them sent directly to your email box, click HERE.


  1. I'm just reading a book right now about Ireland and the people who died in the famine. They asked the same questions. It is hard not to look at the situation and not blame God or wonder where He is. But as you've said when we do this God brings peace of heart and mind. Thanks for another good commentary.

  2. A couple of points: 1. To trace the source of evil back beyond Adam to satan for it was he who came and vandalized God’s perfect creation. He is the source of evil and our living in a less than perfect world. Why is this important? To help me remember I am involved in something that is characterized as a spiritual battle…far beyond my physical circumstances. 2. If the world we lived in was without any problems we could handle it ourselves without God. So when things are difficult I always ask myself…wonder what God is up to in this? 3. One of the reasons God gave us Ps 73 is to show us a man who wrestled with the same things you present in your blog, i.e. how he dealt with them.
    Glenn Livingston

  3. In my earlier years, I was a complete type A trying to control all exterior and interior forces. Now I get it! I was supposed to "let go and let God". May I say what a complete and utter relief that is! It's like a heavy burden was lifted when I let God do his job!
    Grace and peace,Lois

  4. Gail,you keep on blessing people with you devotionals! I agree with your devotional on suffering.PS 73 is so full of insight on that topic. I recently read a chapter in the book on God's Justice and Mercy from the book "The Holiness of God" by R.C. Sproul. It has several examples in it from Scripture that seemed unjust of God to allow but R.C. explains the balance between God's Justice and His Mercy is such a phenominal way that you end up worshipping the Lord instead of shaking your fist at Him. Man is unjust to one another but God is NEVER unjust He is always just and fair. You will have to read it to get the full impact of this message of truth.

  5. Gail: I think you've made some really good points. I'm thinking of Job and all that he went through to learn that it isn't about him, but about the sovereignity of God. You talked about the fact that man makes choices. And that people's choices can effect each of us. We can be deceived from Satan also. Also we can walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit. God permits trials for us to learn that we are not in control, but He is and to learn to do His will. I'm just joting some things off the top of my head. But your topic is excellent for the times we are living in. Jeanne

  6. "We let situations change our view of God instead of letting God change our view of situations."

    I think this is the key point. God is unchanging and trustworthy. It can be hard to remember when you are caught in a whirlwind of tragic circumstances, but if we can anchor ourselves to that truth, we will find that it will hold us steady until the storm passes over.

    Kristi Bothur

  7. Gail,
    When I get asked "If there is a God, why would he let this happen?"...I hope I remember what you said. You make it very clear. Thank you for you sharing this with me. : )

  8. My family was killed when I was about five. Then, I lived in a brutal, abusive household where I was raped, molested, beaten & severely neglected for 11 years. My only constant was God. I knew people were hurting me but God was caring for me.

    As an adult, I wrestled w/ Him over why He had allowed such horrors to happen to me. He taught me I am not exempt from suffering & that for choice to be real, there must be consequences. The bullets in the guns that killed my family must have been capable of killing or else those who killed them would not have made an actual, free choice. He showed me them choosing & piqued my curiosity; I found myself praying for their repentance. And, then, God pulled me out of the hell all there evil had cast me into.

    Your post is spot on. Thank you.

    PS: I'm writing a book about my experience because God's goodness must be known & because so many suffer without knowing God loves them and longs to help them.

    1. I am so sorry for the things you've suffered.

      Thanks for sharing the truths God taught you. They are helpful to me even though I haven't suffered as you've suffered.

      I'm so glad you are writing a book. I know God will comfort many who read it just as He's comforted you in your sorrows and suffering.

      I have a friend who had a similar past. I wrote a very short devotion about her experience on my site Bible Love Notes:

      Gail Purath


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