Free will… It’s what allows a follower of Christ to proclaim his love of the Savior and an atheist to deny He exists. It’s what allows one man to live a wonderful life of innocent bliss while another lives in poverty praying for his next meal. Free will… God’s greatest gift to His creation and also His greatest enemy. It’s also the answer to many of life’s most puzzling questions:
Why do bad things happen to good people?
One family lives a life devoted to serving the Lord, never misses a day of church, serves in ministry and is a model of what a follower of Christ should be. In an instant they are taken from this world in a tragic car crash because a drunk driver chose to exercise his Free Will. Could God have saved the family? Certainly, He is all powerful, but then He would be going against His own nature and eliminating Free Will. If the family does not perish then the consequences the drunk driver would face are negated and his choice to drink and drive do not carry the same weight as if God had allowed Free Will to complete it’s course.
Why does God permit suffering?
Suffering is a result of the choices we make, both individually and collectively. I personally suffer from back pain that resulted from an injury that I suffered while unloading Christmas Trees from a semi-trailer on the job in 2006. I made the decision to push myself beyond my body’s limits one too many times to impress the wrong boss, ruler, leader in my life and as a result I carry the scars of my individual choice. However there are millions who suffer from hunger, disease, and poverty because of the choices of others, groups or nations. These people have no control over their own suffering and are at the hands of people who if they only exercised their Free Will to share some of their wealth or talents could be living a much better life than they currently live. Again, God could end all that suffering, and he one day will, but He gave us, His creation, Free Will and because we choose to ignore some groups, they must suffer as we enjoy the finer things.
Why can’t I find a mate, why can’t I find a job, why am I always short in the bank: I pray every day but God doesn’t answer. Why?
God gives us Free Will to choose whether to follow Him or not and even to what degree we follow Him, but He is faithful and has a plan for those who love Him.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Unfortunately our Free Will often runs counter to what God has planned for us. That perfect mate who sits waiting to meet you after church on Sunday morning is missed because you partied at the bar too late on Saturday. That perfect job for you, was filled by the person who was awake at 6am for his quiet time while you slept in and missed the interview. God answers the prayers of the faithful and he provides for our every needs but we have to ask ourselves if we are committing ourselves to God’s Will or are we expressing our Free Will and simply expecting Him to clean up after us. When God promises in Jeremiah to prosper us, He is not saying he is going to fill our accounts with thousands of dollars for us to spend on our pleasures. He does however promise to provide for the needs of those who trust in Him and obey His commands.
The benefit of living a life surrendered to Christ is that when bad things happen you can be comforted by the fact that God has you covered by His grace. He has a bigger plan for you. The Christian family lost to the drunk driver now celebrates forever in Heaven as the driver faces the penalty of his actions and a chance to change his life. Those who suffer provide an opportunity for us to show our compassion for them and minister to their needs and bring the love of the savior into their lives.
The downside to Free Will is if you are not living in the will of God and are denying Him, then you can not expect Him to bless your life or blame Him when things go wrong. However, He will be there for you if you choose to turn to Him and accept Him because there is none to far from God that He will not welcome you with open arms.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
In Part 2 I plan to talk about why, I think, God gave us Free Will in the first place.
Love In Christ,