The most formidable problem against Christianity isn’t whether or not God exists, but rather, if he does exist, why he allows evil and suffering to continue to cast its overwhelming shadow over our world. Most people don’t strictly object to God on an intellectual level, but instead on an emotional one, and the problem with evil and suffering is most deeply the issue that stirs our hearts.
This is the issue that provokes our judgment against God:
The verdict rendering that God has allowed something awful to happen to us, and that he is wrong in doing so.
This problem of evil is very real, especially for those going through immense pain, and it is a very legitimate issue to raise. The reality of evil has provoked an interpretation of God’s character to many people, and, admittedly, it sounds accurate and good at first glance. It goes like this:
If God is all good then he can’t be all-powerful; otherwise he would stop the evil in this world. Furthermore, if God were all-powerful then he can’t be all good because he allows too much evil in our world.
This is all well and good, but it’s an oversimplification.
What if we assert that God is all-wise and all-loving, as well as good and powerful?
What if we assert that God is infinite, and evil only exists within a certain amount of time?
How quickly we raise our fists for God to be accountable to us, and how strongly we dismiss accountability to anyone at all. Yet, the very reason evil is so prevalent in our world is precisely because we’ve put it here. It has nothing to do with God.
Does God not have more of a right to ask uswhy evil exists in our world?
Are we not the ones who choose evil?
Do we not choose to gossip, to slander, to betray, and to back-stab one another?
Don’t murderers and rapists choose to do so?
Everything evil in this world has everything to do with us and nothing to do with God.
We’re sinful in our thoughts,
and in our motives.
We’re unleashing evil every day in countless ways. If God were to rid this world of evil, at which point would he stop?
If God officially ended evil in this world, then none of us would exist. An annihilation of evil would call for an annihilation of humanity, because we’re all evil.
Although we choose evil, God chooses life.My wife and I had a daughter knowing that she’ll go through pain and suffering at some point in her lifetime, but the value of her life is far greater to us than not having her at all, just to spare her of pain.
So God allows evil in the world because God allows life.
Moreover, God is not detached or personally uninvolved from our pain and suffering, because in Christ he meets us in our suffering by suffering on our behalf, in our place. God suffers so that one day we no longer will.
Have we suffered intense physical pain? Yes, as did God’s Son who willingly put himself on a cross on our behalf.
Have we suffered relational pain? Yes, as did God’s Son who was abandoned by his closest friends and separated from his father at the moment of his death.
Have we suffered anxiety and fear? Yes, as did God’s Son in the garden the night of his arrest.
We may not totally understand the presence of evil and suffering in the world, but at least we for sure know what it can’t be. It can’t be that God doesn’t love us, and we understand this when we take ourselves to the foot of the cross, where He willingly put himself to suffer pain and defeat on our behalf. This is love, and it shows us that God is involvedin our pain.
Yes, God allows evil.
He allows evil because he allows humanity to live, period. And yes, God allows evil, even to the point of letting it kill his own Son. Yet this is the wisdom and power of God: He defeats the enemy of evil precisely by dying for his enemies.
Jesus taught us to love our enemies, and he lived this out by dying for them. His work on the cross was both the ultimate act of evil prevailing yet being thwarted in one blow. Being recognized as the man who was resurrected from the dead, he now holds the keys to life so that evil and death no longer have the last word for us.
So, we can have confidence that the evil in this world is being dealt with by a God that has taken it upon himself to suffer with us and for us, to become a curse so that we might have life.
So, what does Christianity offer?
Where do we turn in our pain and suffering? I submit that casting God out of the equation would be of no help at all. When life falls apart, we need someonepresent with us to be with us.
So, this is where Christianity doesn’t just offer philosophical answers…it offers a person! Thoughts and ideas can’t bring meaning, peace, hope, and comfort. Only a person can do this.
Here Jesus meets us in our pain with promises for something better.
He meets us with a plea to come and see that he, the Lord, is good.
He knows of our suffering because he welcomed it to buy our souls.
He is with us in the truest sense of meaning, to give us a life-giving relationship with a God that secures us in the infinite worth of eternity and that will fulfill his promises to free us from evil, pain, and suffering in the life to come.
We look backto God’s promises and see how at the cross he is with us in our pain.
We look forwardto the day all will be made right.
We look into the gospel to see that evil will not have the last word, but that God has a better plan to give us joy, love, peace, goodness, and life eternal.
This is the goodnessand powerof God: That he does, in fact, permit evil as the very means of our redemption and restoration of our souls.