There were numerous times in my youth where I’ve wondered why God would allow bad, awful things to happen. The phrase “if God is all loving, why does He allow evil?” would creep into my head in these weak moments.
Fortunately, I befriended a priest in college, Father John Oliver, who gave me the answer to that very question. He said “By allowing free will to exist, God allows evil to exist. The consequence of free will is sin. The consequence of sin fosters evil.”
Few things hurt me more than to hear people blaming God when bad things happen. Father Oliver was right, free will allows evil. If someone decides, of their own free will, to perpetrate evil against me or my family, that is not of God. It is merely a consequence of God allowing us to have free will.
As a child, if our parents allowed us to play at a playground and we hurt ourselves, would we blame our parents? No. What if some other kid pushed us down and hurt us. Would we blame our parents then? No.
Then why do we blame God if we are hurt by our own free will or the free will of others?
One of God’s great gifts is the gift of choice.
Love, for example, is always a choice. As Bishop Fulton Sheen once said, “God calls us to love one another because we can’t always choose who we like… some people just rub us the wrong way. But, he calls us to love everyone because it is something we must always choose to do.”
The same goes for faith. Faith is a choice. It’s very nature is that we believe in something we cannot not completely understand.
And our will is a choice. We can choose to follow God’s will or our free will. The consequence of that free will will always be sin. And that sin may result in bad things happening to good people.
But, let’s not blame God. He allowed us in the playground. What we do there is up to us.