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Beliefs

God Doesn't Make Bad Things Happen

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Do you wonder how God can allow so much evil and destruction in the world? When you face challenges in your own life do you wonder if God is there? Is there a reason things happen the way they do? Are you being cared for?

Why do bad things happen?

It is important to understand that God doesn’t punish people. God doesn’t will evil to anyone. God doesn’t hurt people. A family lost a child in a terrible accident. Two church leaders came to their door to offer their condolences. They said that they felt great pain for the family, but they also added, “This was God’s will,” and that, “we don’t always understand why God does what God does, but we must accept God’s will.” What a terrible thing to say! I’ve heard stories where this has happened to people, unfortunately more times than I can count. I don’t know where this idea came from. I’m sure it didn’t come from God.

God is pure love and never wishes harm to anyone. The idea that it is God’s will that bad things happen to people is not only misguided but potentially devastating. How can people love a God who wishes them ill or has hurt them? The New Church teaches that God wills only good for all his people. There is nothing more important to our Creator than for every one of us to have as much happiness and fulfillment as humanly possible. When bad things happen, God feels our pain, is very present with us, and works to bring out the best in a bad situation.

What we must remember is that God takes the long view. His goal is not to give us temporary and perhaps superficial and fleeting comfort in this world, but rather looks to our eternal welfare.

God Brings Good Out of Everything If We Let Him. Swedenborg says it is impossible to see God’s Providence in the face, as it is happening, but that we can see it when we look back in reflection on the past. In other words, in times of crisis it is very hard to necessarily sense that God is present and working to bring good out of a bad situation. However, when we look back at such times we can often see the gentle hand of God at work.

Look at the horrible act of terrorism of September Eleventh, something so far from God’s will and even more horrible to be committed in God’s name. However, the love and charity that poured out of all people, not only in the United States, but around the world, was astounding!

The cynics say that this was temporary and fleeting, but didn’t a part of us change forever? Or, at the very least, did we not have that opportunity presented before us in this horrific time in our lives? God didn’t make this event happen or will it, but God didn’t abandon us. God was there in a huge way, working through the same human freedom and choice he gave those terrorists, but now the choice of thousands was love and compassion, and a resolve to rid the world of such hideous efforts.

In times of tragedy we may not be able to see immediately that God is there, leading us to peace and comfort, and so much more. However, we can rest assured that this world has been set up in such a way that all can be bent and turned toward good.

God provides constantly that the choice for good is always present, and continually lifts us up from our pain and our doubt to freedom to live and love again. The real question is, can we trust this? Can we find the good, or at least pursue it, and allow the force of love and life to lift us up? When we do this we can heal and even grow. And this growth is eternal.

There is an invisible and gentle current in each one of our lives that can peacefully carry us to happiness and heaven. It is always there for us, whenever we want to let go and trust the way. Even in what might appear as the worst of times, that stream is flowing and can carry us to all things blessed. We can trust that we are being cared for, that our eternal happiness is the most important thing God has in mind for us, and that all of creation flows toward this end. Our choice is to believe this, accept it, and freely choose it. Wade into the stream. Relax, and enjoy the ride.


This website contains a wealth of information about the New Church, and a practical, spiritual path to happiness. Read more about the beliefs of the New Church, as well as more about Emanuel Swedenborg.

The above was edited from Grant Schnarr’s book, You Can Believe. For more on this subject, see the New Church Connection issue of "Why do bad things happen", as well as the book Why Does God Let It Happen? by Bruce Henderson.