Why Does God ‘Allow’ Bad Things To Happen?


Sometimes I think: “If God loved us, He wouldn’t let such bad things happen!” When I find myself thinking such thoughts, I remember a story I once heard.

“A research scientist once conducted a study on the common house fly. He miraculously taught a fly to jump over a pencil upon his command. After the fly had demonstrated his mastery of this task, the scientist decided to see if it would continue to jump over the pencil if he pulled two of the fly’s six legs off. The removal of the two legs didn’t seem to alter the results. The fly continued to jump the pencil. The scientist removed two more legs to endeavor to see if the fly would continue to comply. The fly didn’t disappoint him and continued to jump on command over the pencil. The scientist then removed the last two legs of the fly and commanded the fly to jump. The fly lay still. Again the scientist shouted, “Jump!” But the fly wouldn’t comply. The scientist attempted again and again to teach the legless fly to jump over the pencil, but to no avail. Discouraged, the scientist wrote as his conclusion that, when you pull all the legs off of a fly, it becomes deaf.”

A knowledge of the plan of salvation, and the role that agency plays in our lives, is important to understand in order to draw the correct conclusion about the identity of God, ourselves, and of His love for us. Thomas Monson reminded us of the importance of the gift of agency.  He said:

“We have…been given the gift of agency. In a thousand ways we are privileged to choose for ourselves. Here we learn from the hard taskmaster of experience. We discern between good and evil. We differentiate as to the bitter and the sweet. We discover that there are consequences attached to our actions.”(“The Race of Life”, GC, April, 2012)

Jacob summarized the importance of why God allows opposition in all things, and then stated the impact on us if it wasn’t allowed:

“…(we) must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of (our) creation. Wherefore, this thing (the lack of agency) must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.” (2 Nephi 2:12)

Agency is essential to our progression! The ensuing consequences, be they good or bad, are an important part of a grander plan that doesn’t end with our mortal deaths.  If Heavenly Father stepped in to stop all the evil acts of man, it would frustrate the entire plan of happiness that He has in store for all of His children. As we come to better understand God’s plan, our willingness to submit to Him not only grows, but our love for Him intensifies!

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