How can we call God all loving and merciful when we see so much hurt and suffering in the world? It is not always easy trying to understand God’s goodness, loving kindness, justice and righteousness in a world that seems to be full of sin, death, pain injustice and evil. How can we have a perfect Creator and terribly fallen world? Does the problem of evil and suffering nullify the claims of Christianity? NO. Suffering and evil in the world does not make God any less loving and gracious. Just because there is evil does not mean that God is the cause of it.
The question becomes that if God is not the Creator of suffering and pain, who is or what is? At times it seems that God isn’t in control. If He is, didn’t He know this was going to happen? And if He is full of love, why did He let it happen? And before we can answer that question we have to understand our present condition; we live in a fallen world. It is not perfect as it once was. It is no longer a sinless world. It is no longer a paradise. One theologian wrote: “The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith.”
Society has labeled evil into two categories, moral evil like war, theft, murder, rape, sin and things we could all name. These are direct manifestations of our sinful condition and choices. And there are also naturals evils; Disasters, famine, accidents, calamities in our physical world. But we forget, ALL of these are results of that first, moral evil, category. Understand, our moral evil, is such an affront and offence to God, such a wicked rebellion against His goodness and righteousness and His perfection, that it affected His creations perfection here.
Our sinfulness and rebellion of disobedience has actually affected the operation of the universe. The earth simply follows the pattern of humanities sin. “Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” (Romans 8:21-22)
Lives were lost in floods recently. But so many lives were saved too. Maybe we should be asking, “How is it that humanity is so protected even though we are the cause of all this chaos”? Don’t forget, it was humanity, NOT God, that brought sin into the world. (Genesis 3:17) God gave us perfection; but in humanities sinfulness we chose to rebel against God and that brought with it the curse of sin and death and in the process also caused chaos throughout the earth. But God is still Sovereign. And He has promised that things will one day get better. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4.
Right now we shed tears. Death takes it toll on our families and our friends. We know tears and sorrow and pain. The ripple effects of our sin have touched every life, every family and every culture. Suffering and evil are devastating to every individual, every culture and to the universe and we do want answers. But just as we cannot understand the depth of God’s love, I do not believe we can fully understand the depths of how evil sin really is and the effects it has had on each of us and our world.
The Bible and Christianity actually address evil. It looks at it and explains it and also offers hope from it. Eastern religions try to deny evil, God offers understanding of it. Since we can see how evil came to be, by our rejecting God’s Word and falling into the devils temptation, we can accept the fact of our guilt and come to repentance and then rest on the promise of God’s solution, which involves His faithfulness to save us from eternal suffering. Now, if we think about that, think about what it took for God to actually SAVE us from ultimate destruction, it is overwhelming! God, the Creator of life allowed Himself to be murdered by His creation.
Just as it doesn’t make sense that God would allow pain and suffering, it doesn’t make sense that God would make pain and suffering to be the way that salvation’s victory is won! Christ Jesus, brought victory over sin and death and evil and the grave and assured the worlds healing by suffering the shame and humiliation of the cross and grave. He rose from it, He shows that death is not final and that God can conquer what tragedy and suffering bring. Death itself. Don’t let a time of suffering be an excuse to run from God. Run to Him. Open His Word and find comfort and hope and forgiveness and read the promises of a better future through Christ our Lord.
The writer is the pastor of the Cornerstone Assembly of God in Sidney.