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Evil—Part 1: Why Does Bad Stuff Happen?
Monday, October 23, 2023 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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