When someone asks me how a good God could let bad things happen, my first thought is to put the “bad things” in perspective. I’m reminded of 2 things: 1. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…,” and 2. chocolate chip cookies.
Why these two things? Well, when I’m explaining it to kids (I’m a former camp counselor and current 4th grade Sunday school teacher), I compare life to chocolate chip cookies. What’s in chocolate chip cookies? There are some really good things like chocolate chips and sugar, and then there are some things that taste nasty if left by themselves, like flour, baking soda, raw eggs, and vanilla extract. Have you ever tasted vanilla extract? If you haven’t, just put a drop on your finger and lick it. It’s one of the most bitter things around. BUT when you mix all the ingredients together (the good and the “bad”) and put them under heat (the pressures of life), what comes out is delicious chocolate chip cookies.
So, though some experiences may look bad in and of themselves, when mixed with the good, and baked in the heat of life, the ultimate end is good. One condition does remain: “to those who love God.” Without the reference point of God, the bad things won’t make sense. We must believe that He is Good AND Sovereign (in control). If He were good but not sovereign, then He would be a powerless philanthropist. If He were sovereign but not good, then He would be an inconsiderate dictator. But He is both good AND in control, so we can trust Him.
We were all born as sinners and must accept the grace of Jesus Christ in order to be freed from that sin. His substitutionary atonement on the cross put my sin (and yours) on His shoulders and His righteousness on mine, if I accept it. The result of faith in Christ: receive eternal life in heaven with Him, instead of eternal life in Hell apart from Him. So, when “bad things” happen, I think of them as God drawing me closer to Himself. Everything that happens is part of His grace. And in the end, we’ll sit down to a heavenly feast with Jesus. Who knows? Maybe there will even be chocolate chip cookies served.