“If God is all-powerful, He cannot be all good, and if He is all good, He cannot be all-powerful.” – Lex Luthor, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
It’s a question many people have asked: How can a good God let bad things happen? God’s sovereignty seems to be at odds with his love and goodness, at least from the perspective of our tiny existence. How can we understand? How can we answer this difficult question?
They say God speaks to us in a way we can relate, and for me, that’s often through “nerd speak.”
Recently, as I pondered this question during my devotional time, Star Trek came to mind. I thought about Starfleet’s number one rule: the Prime Directive. In General Order One, it states Starfleet shall not interfere with the development of any species, even at the cost of crew or ship.
An episode from Star Trek: Voyager highlights well why the rule exists. In it, the crew of Voyager comes upon a new planet. The inhabitants had received one of Earth’s early first contact satellites. The planet was unprepared for the advanced information that had been given to them through the satellite, and it destroyed their planet and nearly drove them to extinction.
There are times in Star Trek when the Prime Directive seems cruel (when life-saving technology or knowledge must be withheld). However, Starfleet has learned the hard way that humans are incapable of knowing the future, or of predicting every outcome. Because of this, it is best to stay out of the way.
Thankfully, we know God isn’t incapable! He exists outside of time and space; He can see every consequence and possible outcome. He knows exactly where, how, and what will happen. It’s perhaps one of my favorite things about studying history; you can see God’s hand leading and directing events that have happened to bring about His plan and purpose.
In Jeremiah 29:11, it says, “‘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.’” God’s sovereignty, like many things, comes down to trust. Do we trust, regardless of how things look in the moment or how we feel, that God is working for our good? Do we truly believe God’s plan for us is good?
I often think of my children, and how upset my oldest daughter would become when I wouldn’t let her have her way. When she was three years old, her small, underdeveloped mind couldn’t comprehend why she couldn’t eat cake and donuts all the time! To her limited perspective, it seemed mean and cruel. Of course, as an adult, I realized that in the long term, a steady diet of fat and sugar would be harmful to her. So, I didn’t provide cake all the time. In fact, sometimes I took the cake away! She had to learn, and is still learning, to trust that I can see and understand things she cannot. To know that I love her and will always do what is best for her.
Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes good things are taken away, and we don’t understand why. I lost my younger daughter at two years old to a disease God could have healed. Why? Why didn’t He heal her? Why did He choose to take her away from me? At that time, I had a choice; we all have a choice. We can be like a three-year-old and fall on the ground crying, demanding to know why God has taken away our cake. We can demand to understand something that is beyond our limited capacity. We might choose to take matters into our own hands and try to do better than God’s plan with our lives. We try to do better than the one who can see all and knows all. Most often, we simply get angry at God and grow bitter, only hurting ourselves and poisoning our hearts.
The other choice is to choose to trust God. We can choose to trust the one who stands outside of time and our understanding. The God who is above the Prime Directive and can see every angle and possible outcome. The God who has promised to never leave or forsake us. The God who has promised He will work everything for our ultimate good. The God who has proven over and over again that He loves us and is a good, good father.
I have made my choice; I make it over and over every day. What will you choose?