This is our final post in our series dealing with the Problem of Evil. In our first post we defined the problem (found here), explored many systems that fall short in answering the problem (found here), unpack the current free-will explanation (found here) which also falls short of the whole counsel of God’s Word, laid the foundation for answer the question (found here), and today we hope to add some clarity to the question.
As we begin to search Scripture, here are some things that are abundantly clear. Both Ephesians 1 and Romans 9 teach us that God works everything for His glory. The Bible also tells us that God is just and that He will always do what is right (Genesis 18:25).
“… we can take comfort in the reality that God has a morally sufficient reason for the existence of evil.”
We may not fully understand suffering and evil, but we can take comfort in the reality that God has a morally sufficient reason for the existence of evil. We are not told that reason explicitly, but that does not mean that a good reason does not exist.
In addition, we (mankind), not God, are the ones who brought evil and suffering into the world. So when it comes to evil and suffering we are to blame, not God. God created mankind as personal beings, relational beings, and moral beings. In this process He created mankind (Adam & Eve) with volition and a will. And in the garden, they had the ability to choose between good and evil.
Adam, and through him all of mankind, has chosen evil and as a consequence we are infected with sin and death. Romans 8:22 tells us that even the creation is paying the price for the fall: “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”
This gives us a picture that the entire universe is the battle ground of a cosmic battle between God and the forces of evil. Therefore, to a Christian, we should not be surprised that our world is a dangerous place. So we should seek God’s perspective as much as possible.
But remember, the unbeliever cannot do this. Whether he is an atheist or holds to a Hindu or Buddhist worldview in which this world endlessly keeps going in cycles, he cannot go beyond this present world for the “big picture perspective.” I once heard it described as a man standing at the shore of an ocean trying to figure out why the tide rises and withdraws. He does not know that this is related to the moon.
With a Christian worldview, we can “think outside the box”, so to speak. Non-Christians are stuck in the box. We have the bigger picture of God and of the spiritual battle and there is One we can trust for all the details.
For the Christian, God uses suffering and evil (and everything) for our good. Rom 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
In the context of Rom 8:28, the emphasis is on our final salvation. Suffering is something that God uses to get our eyes off of ourselves, and to help us focus on the One seated at the right hand of God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We focus on Jesus, on His life, His death, His resurrection, on who He is, what He did, and what He’s doing; and that process draws us closer to Himself and makes us more like Him now. The eternal transforms the temporal.
“Suffering can drive us to dig deeper in Christ…”
We are transformed from one degree of glory to another as we behold Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). So, the clearer that we see Christ in His Word, the more we are able to grow in Christ-likeness. Suffering can drive us to dig deeper in Christ through the means of grace He provides (Scripture, Fellowship, Worship, and Prayer).
With suffering, God gets our attention and makes us think about what is eternal. C.S. Lewis put it like this: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
When we are in the midst of suffering, it is easy to lose sight of Christ and to be consumed by the suffering. In light of that reality, we must fight to not become consumed by the issue. Eccl. 7:13-14: “Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent? 14 In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider– God has made the one as well as the other so that man may not discover anything that will be after him.”
The emphasis here is on the sovereignty of God. That is our perspective on the good and bad. When things are good be happy – but also understand in the day of adversity; God made that day also.
We cannot change God’s sovereign hand. When things are going well enjoy it. And instead of being buried in worry, we should seek after things of God. Matt 6:33-34 “33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
[pullqote1] “Jesus Christ, God’s solution to the evil in the world, will return soon and bring judgment and righteousness to this fallen world.” [/pullquote1]
Even though God does not reveal to us what tomorrow holds, we can have confidence that He has revealed to us what the end of time holds. Jesus Christ, God’s solution to the evil in the world, will return soon and bring judgment and righteousness to this fallen world. This is when eschatology (the study of the end) and our view of the restoration that Christ brings with Him, when He returns, gives us. Take comfort that only the Christian world view has the complete answer.
King Jesus brings with Him a day in which He will right every wrong. Christ will judge every sin and wipe away every tear. Unlike the Eastern world view which never ends – it just keeps recycling, Christianity teaches that there is a conclusion to history.
“King Jesus will judge every sin and wipe away every tear.”
Christians look for the new heaven and new earth – it will not always be like this. We know that all the wicked will be judged. All the wrongs, which from our perspective now appear to go unpunished; will be dealt with, with perfect righteousness.
Because that day is coming… suffering calls us to repentance. In Luke 13:1-5. Evil and suffering are reminders of our need to repent. So when we look at the suffering, the hurricanes, tornados, floods, bridges collapsing; we don’t say one is a worse sinner than another, but as Christians we see the need to repent.
“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Luke 13:1-5 talks about two tragedies, one in which people were slaughtered and the other in which many died from a natural disaster; and the answer is the same. Unless you repent you will also perish. There is a sense in which tragedy is a reminder to repent. The main thing for us personally is to understand we are no better. It’s a wakeup call to repent and turn to Christ.
These kinds of tragedies should serve as wake up calls to those who have not believed. For the most part, no one knows when their life will be taken and they will stand before the Judge.
“The issue of evil and suffering is not an argument against Christianity rather it is a reason for it.”
I pray that the issue is starting to become clearer and clearer. The issue of evil and suffering is not an argument against Christianity rather it is a reason for it. In other words, only Christianity offers a true explanation and solution for the problem of evil. (The Creation – The Fall – The Incarnation – The Restoration)
The awareness of the problem of evil is evidence that the God of the Bible exists. If there is no God, then there is no such thing as “good” and “evil.” Good and evil cannot exist in an atheistic universe or Eastern worldview for that matter.
The Bible alone offers a complete and satisfactory explanation for evil and suffering. We know how it got here (the fall). We know the solution (Jesus Christ). And we know how the story ends (New Heaven and Earth).
“The Bible alone offers a complete and satisfactory explanation for evil and suffering.”
Now I just want to add that I’m not sure that when all is said and done – that we can have all the answers. Our view of God and our eschatology (which is our view of the end times) is helpful here. What we look to is the answer and the answer is Jesus.
The answer is not philosophy. The answer is not human reasoning. The answer is not man’s wisdom. The answer is not a complex theological system. The answer is King Jesus.
“The answer to evil is the love of God – the answer is Jesus Christ.”
After the fall, God didn’t sit in heaven and just feel bad for us. No, He sent His Son and His Son suffered alongside of us. The answer to evil is the love of God – the answer is Jesus Christ. We go from Creation, the fall, the incarnation (which is the solution), and the restoration which is the Christ’s return.