Why? Why is free will a good thing? What does it let me do?
Well, free will allows me to choose without being forced. In essence, free will allows me to do exactly as I want to do. I like that.
Here's what free will sounds like:
"I want vanilla, not chocolate."
"I want to marry Bob, not Tom."
"I want to go to Tahiti, not Atlanta."
"I want to sleep late, not go to church."
The goal of free will, from my point of view, is to figure out, then act on, what I really want. From God's point of view, however, free will is a bit different. God wants me to want what He wants.
I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is who bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.--John 15:5
Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.--Ephesians 5:17
I am in my Father and you are in Me and I am in you.--John 14:20
Until I do, however--until I want what God wants, He will not stop me from making my own choices and, in the meantime, I make some pretty crummy ones. And, while I'm making these crummy choices, God is what? He's patient. He's long-suffering. Remember what its' like when our own kids insist on doing what we know will lead to a crash-and-burn? Like that. It happens to everybody.
In the process, though, I've spent a lot of time saying No to God.
While I'm saying No, however, I forget that He can say No to me, too. I don't like that very much.
When I say No to God, I expect Him to be OK with that. He gave me free will, right? Well, God has free will, too. That's why it's a relationship. God will love me, but He will do it the way He wants, not the way I want.*
He did it to Paul, right?
Three times I pleaded to take [the thorn in my flesh] away from me. But He replied, "My grace is sufficient for you."-2Corinthians 12:8-9
Translation: I am not going to love you that way. I am going to love you with myself instead, with my very own presence. You will keep your thorn, but you will come to know me intimately.*
Not a bad deal when you think of it. God told Paul No to something small, but Yes to something much bigger. It's like asking for a scooter and getting a Lamborghini instead.
God said No to Jesus in the garden, too. Jesus wished for the cup to pass from Him, that horrible cup of pain, but God said No. Instead, He perfected all mankind through that suffering and made it the source of salvation for everyone.
He does the same thing for us. If Mother does not get well, if we don't get the job, if the godly husband I want is still not showing up, God is saying No, but it's OK. God always has a Yes to go with it. Don't see God's Yes in your life? Look around for Him. His hand is out, full of blessing. If not satisfaction, then comfort. If not health, then holiness. We so rarely ask for the eternal gifts, and these are His best ones.
*Henry Cloud and Jim Townsend, Boundaries, 1992, Zondervan