Twice in the same day I found myself in conversations with other believers that were experiencing heart-breaking tragedy. And both times my hurting friends said, “I just can’t understand why God would allow this to happen. Even if He didn’t cause it to happen, He could have stopped it. Why didn’t He?” This isn’t a new question. People have been wondering why God allows evil for thousands of years (longer, if you believe in an old Earth, but that’s another subject entirely).
In the past, I’d always imagined that “God allowing evil” really meant an aloof Creator sitting in Heaven with His arms crossed, letting us experience the painful consequences of sin because we freely chose to sin, and He wasn’t going to interfere with free will.
But my discussions with friends helped me realize something I’ve never thought about before.
When we experience the negative effects of sin, whether it is our own or someone else’s, God grieves with us. Sin breaks His heart and was never part of His plan to begin with. I imagine my friends taking their broken hearts to God with tears in their eyes and the Father embracing them with tears in His eyes. I picture them weeping together and God saying, “I am SO sorry you’re experiencing this. I never wanted things to turn out this way. I did not create you for this, and I am utterly heart broken with you. I love you, and I will hold you until the hurt stops.”
I have to admit, this image of God is both comforting and convenient. But is it accurate?
After Adam and Eve had filled the Earth with all kinds of people (and all kinds of people’s sin), this is what happened:
The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth–men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air–for I am grieved that I have made them.”
Sin grieves God. That’s why He is so adamant that we obey Him and not our own selfish desires. He knows it will be better for us if we walk in the way He shows us. When we don’t, it hurts. It hurts us and Him.