If a person typically thinks only casually about what the Bible has to say on the subject, it surely is a difficult topic to comprehend. The keys to understanding come in a few ways. 1), 'God is not willing that any will perish'... so 2) Jesus went to the Cross to make our Salvation possible. 3) We do indeed have Free Choice so... 4) as doublee has noted, God did not make us robots. 5) Also 'key' is that God is entirely in control of The Way He has planned toward The End so He ensures that all human maneuvers are in one way or other structured toward it's accomplishment. That means He will employ both you and I in one way or other to give people we come in contact with a chance to think about life in perhaps a different way than we might now be. He'll employ us to be of benefit toward others - even though most of the time we have no clue.
When any question similar to the one you posed comes to mind, I first think of Pharaoh and Judas. I do that to help me bring things back into focus.
Yes, God did 'raise them up' and employed them on His behalf for the purpose they fulfilled in His overall plan. But, He did not turn them into robots for that purpose. He simply chose the people He did because their personally chosen propensities of life had already prompted their life's path (thoughts, emotions, goals, actions,et al) in the direction they chose... and He at that moment in time required. God simply employed their own chosen propensities to further the fruition of The Plan He had instituted. If you or I were Pharaoh or Judas - given our propensities - the example of our life - would of course have also differed from Gods - we'd likely blame God stressing the concept He 'raised us up' so it's not our fault. But in fact, at any point in our lifetime we could have changed our propensities. God, then, would have simply employed someone else who had also chosen to differ with His Standard to bring about that part same of His Plan. After all, there are evil and less than Godly people everywhere.
Remember - God is not willing that any should perish. But inasmuch as we are not robots and there is a world full of people that can use a change of thought toward the better... whether we perish or not is entirely up to our own Free Choices in life. We choose God or we have a propensity to choose ourselves... and decide it's not our fault because 'He made us that way'.