Daily Meditations

The Fourth Thursday of Great Lent: But Why does God Put up with Evil in the World? & Why does God allow Temptation?

April 7th, 2016

But Why does God Put up with Evil in the World?

Why does error have a free rein and why does God allow the wicked to disturb the existence of so many people?

First of all, before trying to understand, we need to put ourselves in front of the incomprehensible wisdom of God. One who is firmly anchored in God does not suffer any loss, even if attacked by a thousand waves and a thousand storms. On the contrary, he emerges stronger.

There is a reason, however, which I can venture to suggest.

In the first place, scandals are permitted so that the rewards of the righteous may not be diminished. That is why God said to Job: ‘Do you not understand that I have treated you in this fashion so that your righteousness may be made manifest?’ [Job 40:8]

But there is another reason why the wicked are left at large: so that they may not be deprived of the advantages of conversion from their evil ways, which certainly could not happen if they had been rendered incapable of doing evil. In this way, St Paul, the penitent thief, the prostitute, the tax collector and many others were saved.

You may speak to me about those who have been scandalized. Well and good. But I then speak to you about those who have benefited from the scandal by winning glory, and I repeat my point: the existence of careless and lazy people would not justify leaving in a state of inferiority keen and wide-awake people who are capable of richly deserving their eternal recompense. A great wrong would be done to them if they were not given the chance to strive.

John Chrysostom                                                                                                           On Providence, 12, I (SC79, pp.183ff.)


Why does God allow Temptation?

One can distinguish five reasons why God allows the devils to attack us:

first, so that from attack and counter-attack we may become practised in discerning good from evil;

second, so that our virtue may be maintained in the heat of the struggle and so be confirmed in an impregnable position;

third, so that as we advance in virtue we may avoid presumption and learn humility;

fourth, to inspire in us an unreserved hatred for evil through the experience we thus have of it;

fifth, and above all, that we may attain inner freedom and remain convinced both of our own weakness and of the strength of him who has come to our aid. 

Maximus the Confessor                                                                                       Centuries on Charity, 2, 67 (SC9, p.114)

~ Thomas Spidlik, Drinking from the Hidden Fountain, A Patristic Breviary: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World