As I hobbled around the cancer ward on my walker I saw lovers quietly holding hands. They glanced up and we shared an understanding smile - the fellowship of suffering and pain.
Why is the world so messed up? If there is a loving God why does He allow evil and suffering to exist, why do I have cancer, why do millions suffer famines, wars and diseases? Is the existence of evil proof that a loving all powerful God does not exist?
It doesn’t always follow that a person is evil if they allow suffering to occur. There are times when the best outcome requires temporary suffering. I think of the loving parent who allows their child to go through surgery in order to save their life. So God may have good reasons for temporarily allowing evil and suffering. It may be the only way He can save the maximum number of people out of this messed up world, and bring about the greatest long-term good. If that’s the case, (and who can show it isn’t?) then the existence of evil is no argument against God, or His goodness. Even evil that seems pointless may be working toward the greatest long-term good. Evil impacts us all and some work hard to lessen future suffering. Who can quantify the long-term effects of each event?
But why can’t God make a world where there is no evil?
He did and it has got all messed up.
The origin of evil?
God created His higher creatures with the freedom to choose between right and wrong. God’s choice to make us free made evil a possibility; our bad choices made evil a reality.
Why did God give us free will if it made evil possible?
Because freedom is also the only thing that makes love possible. True love can only be given by those who have the freedom not to. A world of creatures like robots, without free will, would never see evil, but it would hardly be worth creating. What God desires for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in love, and for that they must be free. Of course, God knew what would happen when they used their freedom the wrong way, and the personal suffering it would cost Him to save us. Apparently He thought we were worth it. The fact that God suffered too when Jesus died indicates that even God couldn’t avoid suffering in order the to save the maximum number of people, and bring about the greatest long-term good.
Why doesn’t God stop evil now?
God can do all logically possible things but He cannot do logically impossible things; He cannot give us free will and stop us choosing evil. We must all chose how we want to live and for this reason God gives us time,
“The Lord...is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9. All who will might be saved. Those who lived up to the truth they have will be. The young who die in innocence will be likely be restored.
Good out of bad
C.S. Lewis wrote, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. 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.” 1. Pain turns some to God who might not otherwise cease their selfishness. Those who seek to be free from evils without and evils within find in God forgiveness and hope, freedom from guilt. They find that peace and assurance that, one way or another, their trials will come to an end, either in this life or in the world to come.
God in pain
Suffering is not just our problem, God suffers too. God is not a distant, unfeeling being, but a loving Father, who suffers with us when we suffer. All our pain causes Him pain. Every funeral, every victim of abuse, every fallen soldier, is one of His children.
Our heavenly Father has wept with every broken heart and is grieved at every abuse. His sense of suffering is greater than ours because the love He has for those who suffer far, far exceeds ours.
Christ knows pain firsthand - He willingly suffered the death we deserve so that He can credit it to all who ask Him too. Today He works through those who are willing to lessen the suffering in the world and to share the good news of God’s love and His willingness to forgive.
When we realize that our pain causes God pain, it puts the problem of evil in a different perspective. We see that the true problem of evil is the problem of our evil. The real question is not how God can justify Himself to us, but how we can be justified before Him.
This is not the best possible world but we can trust God that it is the only way to the best possible world. A world of people freely, voluntarily united to God and to each other in love. A people who would rather die than hurt Him whom they have already hurt to death. God wants you to be part of the coming Paradise, choose to be part of it.
1. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain.
Evil as evidence that God exist:
- If God did not exist objective evil would not
- Objective evil does exist.
- Therefore God exists.