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Evil—Part 3: How Do I Live With Bad Stuff?

12/17/2023 10:00:00 AM BY Dr James H Dotson Jr

On my journey through life, I’ve experienced bad stuff. Why does bad stuff happen? Why doesn’t God stop bad stuff from happening? How do I live with/in the midst of bad stuff? Join me as I explore with you the answers to these questions in a 3-part series. I need to let you know up front that my answers will reflect both my lived experiences and biblical perspectives.

This is Evil–Part 3, where I focus on the third question: How do I live with/in the midst of bad stuff? But before you read this blog, let me suggest that you first review Evil–Part 1: Why does bad stuff happen? and Evil–Part 2: Why doesn’t God stop bad stuff from happening? Then, return and continue reading here.

A Little Bit About My Bad Stuff

Early in 2015, I was living with headaches pretty much all day every day. But initially, I did nothing to attend to those signs/symptoms—I just kept working and living as usual. 

At a routine eye appointment later that year, around springtime, I reported my headaches. My optometrist took a closer look and told me my left eye was extended further out than my right eye (protopsis). 

She had me meet with a neurologist who specialized in ophthalmology who confirmed her findings. He then ordered a couple of rounds of brain imaging and told me there was a mass in my brain—it turned out to be a meningioma (primary brain tumor). 

Then, to be on the safe side, he also ordered imaging of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis to see if there were any issues there. Turns out there was cancer in my left kidney that at that point had taken over almost half the organ.

Long story short, in the Summer of 2015 I had my left kidney removed, followed later in the Fall of that same year with my first brain surgery. Because of the position of my brain tumor, they couldn’t get it all out—too close to other critical stuff. So, every 6- to 9-months since then, I go for brain imaging to check the status of the tumor. 

In the Spring of 2019, the report came back that there was an increase/expansion of the tumor. The following Winter 2020, I had my second brain surgery, followed that summer with radiation therapy. One unfortunate consequence of that radiotherapy was that I lost vision in my left eye.

So, among the bad stuff in my life is living today with a brain tumor, vision in only one eye, and only one kidney with stage 3 chronic kidney disease.  

My Mindset Reset

There’s more that I could share with you about the bad stuff in my life, but that’s not the point of this blog. The point is what do I do with my bad stuff and all the bad stuff around me.

For me, it begins with a mindset reset. 

A person’s usual attitude or mental state is his or her mindset: a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations. 

A typical mindset regarding bad stuff is that only good stuff should happen to me and, if God was truly loving–omniscient–omnipotent–omnipresent, he would stop bad stuff from happening to me. 

Living with that mindset is like trying to catch the wind in your hands—it’s not going to happened in this life. In fact, here’s what God tells me:

  • ““I have told you these things, so that you can have peace because of me. In this world you will have trouble. But cheer up! I have won the battle over the world.”” (John 16:33, NIrV
  • “That’s because everyone who is a child of God has won the battle over the world. Our faith has won the battle for us. Who is it that has won the battle over the world? Only the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4–5, NIrV
  • “‘I’ll give those who overcome the right to sit with me on my throne. In the same way, I overcame. Then I sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21, NIrV

I believe God. And so, I’ve reset my mindset from expecting that only good will happen to me to accepting that bad stuff will also happen to me and will exist all around me UNTIL Jesus Christ, who has already overcome the world, returns at his second coming to usher in a new Earth and a new Heaven and a new Me.

But even with that mindset reset, there still remains for me two critical questions:

  • How do I live in the midst of evil and bad stuff in my life NOW?
  • Am I responsible for doing something about evil on the Earth NOW?

How Do I Live in the Midst of Evil and Bad Stuff in My Life NOW?

Decide to follow Jesus and join my life with his.

I have resolved to follow Jesus Christ—his life and his teachings are my guide for living.

Why?

Because over my life journey, I’ve found his way to be better than my own way or the ways of this world. For me, Jesus is more reliable and trustworthy than any other option (worldview, philosophy, theory, religion, person, gods, etc.) out there.

We all believe in something or someone. Based on my experiences, I choose to believe in Jesus Christ and journey with him through my life—in the midst of both the good and the bad.  

  • ““But suppose you don’t want to serve him. Then choose for yourselves right now whom you will serve. … But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”” (Joshua 24:15, NIrV)
  • “Remain joined to me, and I will remain joined to you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain joined to the vine. In the same way, you can’t bear fruit unless you remain joined to me. “I am the vine. You are the branches. If anyone remains joined to me, and I to him, he will bear a lot of fruit. You can’t do anything without me.” (John 15:4–5, NIrV)
  • Also consider Revelation 3:20-21; John 14:23; & Galatians 2:20.

Give thanks. Set my mind on the positive. Ask for help. Trust God.

While there is bad stuff in my life, there is also good stuff in my life. Instead of allowing myself to be consumed with the bad stuff, I choose instead to deliberately look for and give thanks for the good stuff.

Am I idealizing life?

Not at all. I just recognize that a positive frame of mind is a better way for me to handle the bad stuff of life, than is a negative frame of mind that doesn’t move me one iota closer to resolving anything. 

  • “Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful. Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood. Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things. Do what you have learned or received or heard from me. Follow my example. The God who gives peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4–9, NIrV)
  • “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. He appointed them to be saved in keeping with his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIrV
  • Also consider Matthew 6:9-13; Ecclesiastes 4:9; Isaiah 41:10; & 1 Peter 5:6–7.

Does that mean I ignore the bad stuff in my life, or go through life with smiles on my face all the time, or hop around every day like a blackbird in the sun?

No, certainly not!

Bad stuff is BAD, and often comes with consequences that are really hard to deal with. Sometimes I grow weary, feel down, or just want to give up. But that actually compels me all the more to talk with God about what’s going on in my life and ask him for help. Over the years, God has risen to the top of my list to reach out to for help. 

Does he always give me what I ask for?

No.

But my cumulative life experiences have taught me that he hears me, listens to me, and always answers my requests for help according to what he knows is right and best for me. My personal life history to date leaves no doubt in my mind that God is looking out for me and has my best in mind. Therefore, I’ll keep trusting him with my life.

And I have a social network—family and friends—who know what’s going on in my life, pray for me, encourage me, and help me in tangible ways at just the right time. We support each other. It’s like we’re journeying through life together.

I also reach out to experts to help me with some of the specific challenges I’m facing. Over my lifetime, I’ve received valuable help from healthcare providers, clergy, counselors, coaches, and other professionals. I’m not afraid to reach out for help when I need it.  

Focus on being ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

If I take the Word of God—the Holy Bible—to be true, and I do, then there’s a happening ahead in my future that I want to be ready for: Jesus Christ coming a second time to the Earth.

By being ready, I mean being among those Jesus takes back with him to a new Heaven and a new Earth that will be without bad stuff!!! When Jesus returns, I’ll be receiving an extraordinary inheritance from my adopted Father—God, the Creator and Sovereign Ruler over all.

  • “Brothers and sisters, we have a duty. Our duty is not to live under the control of our sinful nature. If you live under the control of your sinful nature, you will die. But by the power of the Holy Spirit you can put to death the sins your body commits. Then you will live. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. You didn’t receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear once again. Instead you received the Holy Spirit, who makes you God’s child. By the Spirit’s power we call God “Abba.” Abba means Father. The Spirit himself joins with our spirits. Together they give witness that we are God’s children. As his children, we will receive all that he has for us. We will share what Christ receives. But we must share in his sufferings if we want to share in his glory.” (Romans 8:12–17, NIrV
  • ““Keep watch! Stay awake! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:33, NIrV
  • Also consider Mark 13:24-27; 2 Peter 3:10-18; Philippians 1:6; Revelation 21:1-7; & Matthew 6:25-34.

Am I Responsible For Doing Something About Evil on the Earth NOW?

Let love be the modus operandi of my life.

We—human beings—are the purveyors of much of the evil on the Earth. If I want to do something about the bad stuff on the earth, let me begin by loving God and loving my neighbor. 

  • ““Teacher,” he asked, “which is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.’ This is the first and most important commandment. And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ Everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets is based on these two commandments.”” (Matthew 22:36–40, NIrV)
  • ““In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you. This is what is written in the Law and in the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, NIrV)
  • Also consider 1 John 4:11; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; & 1 John 5:3.

Resist the devil.

There is no question but that the devil is here on the Earth with the expressed intent to destroy us and he has a host of angels joining with him to that end (1 Peter 5:8 & Revelation 12:9). So, is there anything I can do about Satan? Yes!!!

For Satan to rule in my life, I must give him control of my life. That I choose not to do. Rather, I give control of my life to the Holy Spirit whose power—working in, with, for and through me—overcomes the devil.

  • “So obey God. Stand up to the devil. He will run away from you.” (James 4:7, NIrV)
  • “Even though you are evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father who is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:13, NIrV)
  • So I say, live by the Holy Spirit’s power. Then you will not do what your sinful nature wants you to do. The sinful nature does not want what the Spirit delights in. And the Spirit does not want what the sinful nature delights in. The two are at war with each other. That’s what makes you do what you don’t want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the authority of the law. What the sinful nature does is clear. It enjoys sexual sins, impure acts and wild living. It worships statues of gods. It also worships evil powers. It is full of hatred and fighting. It is full of jealousy and fits of anger. It is interested only in getting ahead. It stirs up trouble. It separates people into their own little groups. It wants what others have. It gets drunk and takes part in wild parties. It does many things of that kind. I warn you now as I did before. People who live like that will not receive God’s kingdom. But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful and gentle and having control of oneself. There is no law against things of that kind. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their sinful nature to his cross. They don’t want what their sinful nature loves and longs for. Since we live by the Spirit, let us march in step with the Spirit. Let us not become proud. Let us not make each other angry. Let us not want what belongs to others.” (Galatians 5:16–26, NIrV)
  • Also consider 1 Corinthians 10:13; Proverbs 4:23; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:24; & 1 John 4:1-6

Serve—share the love and truth of God with others. 

As God leads, equips, and empowers me, I will work for the good of others. Obviously, I can’t cover the whole world, but I can serve within the sphere of influence God has given me.

I will do what I can to share with others the love and truth God has shared with me. I will not be passive nor silent. 

  • “The LORD has shown you what is good. He has told you what he requires of you. You must treat people fairly. You must love others faithfully. And you must be very careful to live the way your God wants you to.” (Micah 6:8, NIrV)
  • ““You are the salt of the earth. But suppose the salt loses its saltiness. How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything. It will be thrown out. People will walk all over it. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can’t be hidden. Also, people do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house. “In the same way, let your light shine in front of others. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will praise your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13–16, NIrV)
  • “Then Jesus came to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, NIrV)
  • Also consider Matthew 24:14; Luke 10:29-37; & 1 John 4:7-21.

Final Thoughts

Evil will not last forever—absolutely not!!! There will be an end to Satan and an end to evil and those who follow after evil. Jesus is coming again with a new Heaven and a new Earth where there will be no Satan nor evil. But unfortunately, it will get worse before it gets better as history and world events confirm.

Until then, I must stand firm in my faith in Jesus and my hope in my future inheritance—a new residence free of evil—and live on purpose to glorify God and edify others. 

  • “Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil’s evil plans. Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world. So put on all of God’s armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing. So stand firm. … At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all of God’s people. …” (Ephesians 6:10–20, NIrV)
  • See also Revelation 20:7-15; Matthew 24:4-31; & Revelation 22:12-21.

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Evil—Part 2: Why Doesn't God Stop Bad Stuff From Happening?

11/7/2023 10:00:00 AM BY Dr James H Dotson Jr

On my journey through life, I’ve experienced bad stuff. Three questions come to mind for me as I consider my reality and the reality of millions around the world who are living with far worse challenges than I am: 1) Why does bad stuff happen? 2) Why doesn’t God stop bad stuff from happening? 3) How do I live with/in the midst of bad stuff?

Join me as I continue to explore with you the answers to these questions in a 3-part series. I need to let you know up front that my answers will reflect both my lived experiences and biblical perspectives, as I seek to understand and live my life in harmony with the love and truth of God.

This is Evil–Part 2, where I focus on the second question: Why doesn’t God stop bad stuff from happening? But before continuing, let me suggest that you first review Evil–Part 1: Why does bad stuff happen? Then, return and continue reading here.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

There is absolutely no question whatsoever that suffering and pain and injury and disease and death and evil and crimes against humanity are bad.

How I sincerely wish that Adam and Eve, our first human ancestors (Genesis 1:26-31), had rejected the deception of Satan and obeyed God. But they didn’t. They gave ear to Satan and followed his way. And with that decision, bad stuff—sin and evil—became part of our human reality (Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:1-24). 

Another consequence that followed is that we—human beings—began engaging in all manner of evil. We have done and continue doing lots of bad stuff. Here’s how the Bible describes us.

Turning our attention to the daily news and other non-biblical, historical sources, there we’ll find a record of us engaged in WW1, WW2, and ongoing wars around the world; imperialism and colonialism; parents mistreating their children; children dishonoring their parents; murdering; committing adultery; stealing; lying; giving false testimony in court; trafficking other human beings; sexually exploiting other human beings; carjacking; beating up our partners; fraud, identity theft, and cybercrimes; pornography; pimping and prostitution; and I could go on and on with a long list of other crimes and evil that we—human beings—commit.

The premise of the question—Why do bad things happen to good people—is that we are good people and that bad things should not happen to good people. While that’s a heartwarming thought, we are not good people. We are all born sinners, with a sinful nature and tendencies to sin—following our natural, sinful inclinations and yielding to the evil propagated by Satan. 

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

So, in truth, the more appropriate question is to ask is this: Why do good things happen to bad people—people who at their core (thoughts, feelings, speech, and actions) are sinners?

Here’s the deal. While some might consider me a “good” person, the fact is that I am a sinner—I have disobeyed God, I have done bad stuff, and I have contributed to the evil of this world. The wages due for sin is death (Romans 6:23). That being the case, I should be dead. And really, anyone who has sinned—and that would be all of us (Romans 3:23)—should be dead.

While from a human perspective we may consider some to be good, from God’s perspective we are all sinners. 

Yet, God still extends his love to us.

But God goes beyond being kind and compassionate to us. God offers me—and any one else who will accept it—a solution to overcoming the evil in me and the evil in/of this world. Consider this good news:

  • “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4, NLT)
  • “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:1–5, NLT)
  • For more, also consider John 1:12-14, 10:17-18, 14:1–3, 14:6; Acts 10:43; Romans 4:25, 5:8, 5:15-19, 8:110:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:8-9; Colossians 1:13-14, 2:9; 1 Peter 2:22-24; and 1 John 2:2.

While Adam and Eve messed up big time, any person who believes and puts their faith in Jesus Christ may overcome the condemnation of sin, receive the gift of eternal life, and inherit a new me (immortal and incorruptible) together with a new heaven and a new earth (free of bad stuff) at the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

That’s the gospel—the good news—of Jesus Christ available to any person who will believe it and receive it. 

Is God Silent About Evil in/on the Earth?

Okay, so there will be a new heaven and a new earth and a new me at the second coming of Jesus Christ. What about until the second coming of Jesus Christ? Is God silent about evil?

Some say, yes. I say, no, and here are three reasons why.

First, God is ensuring that the good news—the gospel of Jesus Christ—is shared with all so that we have opportunity to choose eternal life. God is not silent. He’s giving us time to get ready for the end. 

  • “Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4–14, NLT)
  • “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, NLT)

Second, God has promised that at the end of the age—God’s timetable, not ours—he will remove evil from the Earth. God will bring an end to Satan and any who choose to follow after Satan. 

  • “When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7–10, NLT)
  • “And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11–15, NLT)

God has a plan that he’s been working—and still is working—since the “fall” of Adam and Eve to redeem us from the sin and evil and death that is part of the human condition as a consequence of the deception and disobedience of Adam and Eve. The Bible lays out that plan: the continuous and continuing story of God working on behalf of us—humanity. God is not silent. He’s moving us closer and closer to the time when evil will be no more.

Finally, while it may appear to some that God lets bad stuff happen unchecked, biblical history and modern history will not support that assumption. In fact, from the first book of the Bible (Genesis) to the last book of the Bible (Revelation), we will find many accounts of where God held people accountable for their sins and evil.

Space does not allow here a comprehensive review of all such accounts. But consider just these three examples. 

  • The Flood: Earlier in human history, sin and wickedness reached the point when God sent a flood and destroyed all but eight persons on the Earth and then started over (Genesis 6:1—Genesis 8:22
  • Ananias and Sapphira: This married couple conspired to lie about a commitment they made. They voluntarily and publicly offered to sell property they had and donate the money to the church to help those in need. Then, privately they decided they would keep back a portion of what they said they would give but declared that what they donated was the full amount of what they said they would give. Peter called them out on their lie, and both dropped dead on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:1-11)
  • Saul: On his way to Damascus to continue his vigorous persecution of the early Christian church, Saul of Tarsus was knocked off the animal he was riding and made temporarily blind as he was asked by Jesus “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:1-19)

“The LORD is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. …” (Nahum 1:3, NLT) … “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NLT)

No human being is God, and so no human being can know all of what God is doing about evil on the Earth. We’ve got to swallow a generous dose of humility to recognize and accept this reality. God is the Sovereign King, not any one of us, and he made that perfectly clear to Job when he was going through horrific times in his life (Job 38:1—Job 42:6). 

God is not silent about evil. History confirms it, and I can testify to it in my own life. 

But the who, what, why, when, where, and how God deals with evil are up to God, not us. Sometimes we will see it, know it, and understand it. And sometimes we will not. 

But, What’s The Answer to the Question???

But, you say, you still haven’t answered the question: Why doesn’t God just stop bad stuff from happening—now?

God could do that by removing our freedom of choice and forcing us to do exactly what he wants us to do—essentially making us robots or subjects of an autocrat or dictator. But that’s not the kind of relationship God wants with us. He wants a loving relationship with us.

Or God could zap us dead whenever any one of us commits a sin. If God did that, there would be no human beings left on planet Earth! Instead, God loves us so much that he has been, is now, and will continue working his plan to save us from our sins. 

There WILL BE!!! a final end of sin and evil and death and Satan and any one who follows after Satan. But before that happens, our longsuffering God wants to give us all the opportunity to make a choice. The choice is straightforward: accept God’s gifts of salvation and the inheritance of a new heaven, new earth, and new me OR reject God’s gifts and face the consequences—condemnation and eternal destruction for our sins. (Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 2:6-8; Revelation 20:1—Revelation 21:8.) God gave us—humanity—freedom of choice. So, each one of us gets to choose. 

For More Information

For notifications of upcoming blogs and other TFT updates, go to our Home page and Join Our Email List.

For more information about sexuality, wellness, and change, visit our TFT Online Resource Center.

Contact Us to schedule TFT life coaching, communications, or consulting services.

Copyright © 2023 Training for Transformation, Inc. All rights reserved.

Evil—Part 1: Why Does Bad Stuff Happen?

10/23/2023 10:00:00 AM BY Dr James H Dotson Jr

On my journey through life, I’ve experienced bad stuff. Three questions come to mind for me as I consider my reality and the reality of millions around the world who are living with far worse challenges than I am: 1) Why does bad stuff happen? 2) Why doesn’t God stop bad stuff from happening? 3) How do I live with/in the midst of bad stuff? 

Join me as I explore with you the answers to these three questions in a 3-part series. I need to let you know up front that my answers will reflect both my lived experiences and biblical perspectives, as I seek to understand and live my life in harmony with the love and truth of God. 

This is Evil–Part 1, where I focus on the first question: Why does bad stuff happen?

First, Three Important Points

Let me begin by sharing three related points that provide the context for my answer to this first question.

First, God began by making the Earth perfect without evil.

  • “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, ESV
  • “… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. … Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 1:2–2:3, ESV

Second, at creation God gave humans freedom of choice.

  • “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”” (Genesis 2:16–17, ESV)

Third, a powerful and high-ranking angel in Heaven led a rebellion against God in Heaven. He lost and was thrown out of Heaven and came down to the Earth with a third of the angelic host who joined him in the rebellion. Then, beginning with our first parents Adam and Eve, he—Satan, the devil, the ancient serpent, the great dragon—leads these fallen angels to propagate evil in the world.

  • “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12:7–9, ESV)
  • “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” (Genesis 3:1–7, ESV)

  • “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3, ESV)
  • “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV)
  • “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)

Now to the Question: Why Does Bad Stuff Happen?

God created the human race with freedom of choice. Our original ancestors—Adam and Eve—yielded to the deception of Satan and chose to disobey God. The consequences of their disobedience were death, the loss of their perfect home (an Earth originally free from evil), and the start of an ongoing conflict with Satan who wants to destroy us all (see Genesis 2:15—3:24).

Bad stuff happens because evil entered our world as a result of this first or original sin (disobeying God) and because Satan and his crew of fallen angels continue to propagate evil in our world. Thus, the reality of our human condition today includes pain, suffering, death, crying, mourning, and all manner of other bad stuff that worsens as time passes.

So, Is That It?

Will bad stuff always be a part of our lives; are we bound to live with evil forever? Is there a solution to the ongoing onslaught of trouble and setbacks and evil in the world? Pain and suffering and grief hurt!!! What am I supposed to do in the midst of it all? Why doesn’t God do something about it? 

Continue with me as we explore these valid questions in Evil–Part 2: Why doesn’t God stop bad stuff from happening? and Evil–Part 3: How do I live with/in the midst of bad stuff?

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