As We Ponder the Horror of 9/11, Why Does God Let Evil Exist?

9/11. A little child is found beaten to death and left in a dumpster. A 75-year-old woman is brutally murdered.

How can God let evil like this exist?

The coexistence of God, the Supreme Being, and Satan, the root and personification of evil, is one of the universal questions of humankind. How can God sit idly by? How can he watch hatred, lust, and killing? How can a God of love let evil exist?

If you believe that our lives on this earth is all there is, it’s hard to understand, or even believe in God. Fortunately, these lives of ours are only the beginning—an opening act to an eternal life of happiness, peace, and fulfillment. These lives of ours are just a flicker in eternity.

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

I can remember sitting in the doctor’s office watching my daughter get a vaccination shot. She screamed and looked up at me through tears with a face that said, “How could you let her hurt me?” Of course, I knew that the second of pain was for her good. She had a hard time thinking about anything else than the immediate pain. However, I knew that the shot was inoculating her so that her body could fight a serious disease.

To God, this life is our vaccination. Unlike a little child who can’t understand, we need to know that dealing with evil and temptation in our lives is an inoculation. It is making us stronger every time we say “no” to Satan and “yes” to God. It brings us closer to God while we live out our lives.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:7-8

Anything that happens on this earth—no matter how bad it is—pales in comparison to the glory of eternity. That may be tough to understand when evil or even calamity hits us personally. God knows that any suffering is a mere heartbeat that prepares us for eternal bliss—at least those of us who pay attention to God’s call.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

Satan is God’s great foil. How we react to Satan and how we resist his temptation puts us on the path to eternity. Where we end up in eternity—with God or longing for him—is our decision.

There is a great battle going on between good and evil in this world. The problem is that most of us are oblivious to it—or we simply don’t even want to think about it. We can’t see or hear the guns going off so it’s not our problem. The problem is that it is our problem. We’re right in the thick of the shooting. We’re the ones being shot at by Satan.

Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:11-12

It’s easy to blame God for evil. After all, if he is so powerful, why doesn’t he simply wipe all evil off of the face of the earth? Why doesn’t he get rid of Satan once and for all? Why does evil have to exist?

Satan doesn’t make us do anything. He is just the whisper in our ears. He looks for that weakness in our strength—for that simple desire that he can turn into an itch that needs scratched. He looks to start simple and build on his success.

But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved. James 1:14-16

Always remember that the first great gift that God gave us was free will. Temptation is always there but no one forces us to act on it. The decision is all ours. We exercise our free will when we give into temptation and sin.

For it is from within, from the human heart that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. Mark 7:21-23

Temptation is Satan’s call. When we give into temptation we sin and give into Satan. Our backs are to God. Sin is turning our backs on God.

Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Romans 6:12

Sin comes in many flavors. It is as simple as talking about people behind their backs. It is more complicated when a marriage vow is broken. It is more severe when someone is murdered. Regardless of the flavor, sin is sin. Turning our backs on God is turning our backs. There is no half turning. It is either God’s way or the highway—the highway to hell.

Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. 1 John 3:8

In some respects, the most “minor” of sins are the worse. They are the easiest not to commit. However, even that smallest of sins still amounts to turning our backs on God. Even the smallest of sins is giving into Satan—serving him instead of God.

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever.” John 8:34

God calls us and provides us with every chance to accept him. We are the ones who in little ways give in to temptation every day and deny God. It happens to the best of us.

The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” Luke 22:61

We are the masters of our own destiny. God is there for us every step of the way. He loves us so much that he gave us his Son to overcome evil, sin, and death. Jesus provides us with the model of how to live and the roadmap of life. By his death he overcame our sins—every sin committed or that will be committed. Jesus leads us to an eternal life with God.

The outcome of the battle between good and evil is fixed. I’ll tell you the ending: God wins. Regardless of how much he tries, Satan knows that he loses in the end. This is his eternal hell.

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10

In the raging battle between good and evil, we are the winners when we fight temptation every step of the way. We are strengthened for eternity. We just have to understand this and believe in the outcome. We have to resist Satan and his temptation.

When anything bad happens, whether at the hand of man or Mother Nature, we look to God like my daughter getting that shot from the doctor. Why? How could you let this happen? A voice whispers in our ear, “How could a loving God let this happen?” “If there is God, is he really so powerful”? “Does God really exist?” Satan loves to whisper doubt about God, his existence and love for us, in our ear.

In any adversity, we have a choice: we can answer God’s call or we can listen to Satan’s. Satan loves to put doubt in our minds. He loves when we get angry with God. The last thing he wants us to do is to answer God’s call. You can’t answer the call of God while listening to and answering the call of Satan.

In any adversity, God wants us to react with love. Satan wants us to get angry. To hate. In the extreme, to kill.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

We are strengthened when we realize that evil is present in the world and know that we will be tempted. We are strengthened when we just say “no” to Satan.

The Lord loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked Psalm 97:10

In our own way, each one of us has the ability to change this world of ours. We have the ability to wipe Satan off the face of the earth and to regain Paradise. If we use what we have been given—whatever talents those are—for the best, we can start making this world a better place. Change happens in small steps, one person at a time.

We let evil exist in the world. We have the power to eliminate it. Think about that the next time you get angry and let the devil in your heart by not overcoming anger with love.

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Ephesians 4:26