How/why does a good and all-powerful God allow bad things to happen?

In light of the recent shooting at the Connecticut elementary school, many people are asking this question.  Years ago at a youth workers’ conference in Atlanta, I heard one of the most stirring messages of my life, delivered by Louie Giglio, and I have never forgotten what he had to say there.  In fact, his message has taken up residence inside my heart so permanently that it made its way into the novel I’m writing.  Here’s an excerpt:

He moved so that he was sitting beside me, both our backs against the tower wall.  “You know, West, I believe that God is in control of everything.”

“Even over the bad things?”


“Death?  Disease?”




“Solipsism syndrome?”

The pause was brief.  “Yes.”

Why?” I asked.

“The cross,” he said simply, and when I didn’t answer, he took my hand in both of his and explained, “When Christ died, his followers looked at his bloody body on the cross and said, ‘That is the worst thing in the universe.’  The ugliest.  The most horrific.”

I nodded, prompting him to go on.

“After the resurrection, Christians say that same image was the most incredible, amazing thing in the universe,” he said.  “How is that possible?  How is it that one weekend separated the worst thing from being the best thing?”  He leaned his head back against the wall, looking up toward the tower roof.  “That is how I believe that God is in control of everything.”

One thought wrestled its way to the front of my mind, and I blurted out, “But why was it necessary?”

Silas frowned.  “Eden.  The fall of man,” he said.

I shook my head.  “Even that,” I said.  “If God is in control of everything—like you say—then why did humanity fall at all?  Why wouldn’t God just have life go on perfectly, like in the garden at the beginning?  He could have stopped Adam and Eve from ever screwing things up.”

“I think,” said Silas with a sincerity that almost frightened me, “that God favors redemption over perfection.”

“You mean … you mean, he prefers a rescue operation over having no need for one?” I asked.

“That,” said Silas, “is exactly what I mean.”

You can watch the sermon that so impacted my life below, and I hope that you will.  Forty-five minutes of your time is a small price to pay for such a life-changing message.  If you choose to watch, will you post your thoughts in the comments section below?  I’d love to start a healthy and friendly discussion.

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