A topic that gives us a fresh perspective on evil and a correction on what many people attribute to God’s will. The Basic mistake in the latter is to think that everything that happens, happens according to God’s will, that God willed it. If this were true, then we would have (and the many think they have) an easy explanation for bad things happening to good people. “It was God’s will.”
This is very damaging to the one who is suffering and to whom we might say this thinking it will comfort them. They are probably already angry with God and now their anger is confirmed, “it is God’s fault.”
Within the overarching mystery of God’s Providence is God’s will and his acquiescence, and between the two is the gift of free will in his creatures.
God’s will – free will – God’s acquiescence
Evil is not a something but a lack of something, a lack of good where good ought to be. It is good that a bird can fly because it is part of bird nature to fly. When a bird cannot fly there is a lack of good, therefore an evil, a natural evil. It is not the lack of a good that a human cannot fly, because it is not of human nature to fly.
Now, there are three kinds of evil in the world, natural evil, man made evil and angelic evil, none of which are from God (God is good and can only emanate good.) These three forms of evil come from one source: free will in the nature of rational creatures (humans and angels.)
You might question this, “what about natural evil, storms, disease, earthquakes, birth defects or mental disorder, etc. Read carefully St Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:18-23. In this passage there are three concepts important to our considerations. (1) creation, subjected to corruption, is awaiting the redemption of the children of God . . . the redemption of our bodies (our soul is redeemed on the Cross.) (2) creation will be set free from the slavery of corruption at that time. (3) Creation was not subjected to corruption “of its own accord, but by the one who subjected it to futility.” It is not the nature of creation to be corrupt.
To understand this third concept we must look at a couple verses from Genesis. In 3:17, 18, after the disobedience, God says to Adam, “curse be the ground because of you . . . Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth.” This is not a pronouncement of a punishment, but the announcement of a result of Adam’s disorder (tendency towards self gratification from the material world rather than God) due to the loss of sanctifying grace. Because God created Adam from “the clay of the earth” (i.e. the stuff of the creation,) he has an intrinsic connection to creation. Adam’s disordered human nature due to original sin reverberates in creation. Adam is the one who subjected creation to futility (thorns and thistles, representing all natural evil, bad things in nature.)
Three evils, man made evil and natural evil; a result of Adam’s misuse of his free will; angelic evil, that which comes from the spiritual realm, the result of the misuse of angelic free will. All angels were created good by God, they made a bad decision resulting in eternal disconnect from God (condemnation) and their revenge is upon mankind.
God’s will – human and angelic free will – God’s acquiescence
Why then does God acquiesce? To not allow evil would require the suppression of free will. Without free will we would not be human and we would not be able to freely turn to God in response to His grace and love Him for who He is.
It’s very simple.