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.

more than you can handle

You know that well-intentioned phrase that people say all the time, the one that goes God will never give you more than you can handle?

I hate it.  I think it is such a load of utter crap.

I can’t handle my sin nature and depravity.  I can’t handle death and devastation.  I can’t handle pain and letdowns and rejection and broken relationships and the monstrosities of this current age.

Praise God for the cross of Jesus Christ.  He can handle it all for me.

If God never gave us more than we could handle, then why would we ever turn to Him?

His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection proved He can handle anything and everything.  So I don’t dare say any ridiculous, silly phrase like He will never give you more than you can handle because I know that I am weak but He is strong.  Amen and amen.


Last fall, I had the priviledge of hearing John Dickson speak at the Global Leadership Summit.  Dickson is the author of the book Humilitas, a book about humility in leadership.  After hearing him speak, I purchased the book and read the entire thing.  It was brilliant.

Dickson, for his thesis for his Ph.D. in history, set out to find the origin of humility.  The findings were incredible.  Long ago, humility was looked down upon– but now it is a virtue society praises.  What happened to force such a change?  Dickson’s conclusion was the cross of Christ.

Before the cross, the thought was that humility was a showing of weakness.  When Jesus Christ was crucified, the early church had to look on the cross and say, “This is what humility looks like.  I need to either reconcile it with what I currently believe– that humility is weakness– or I need to change my thoughts about humility.”  And now, over 2000 years later, the world looks on humility as a lovely and beautiful thing.

The cross.  Oh how I love it, that history-altering moment in time.