“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. –C.S. Lewis
One of the most difficult things to see on the news, or in person, is the presence of suffering in a fellow human being. Have you ever thought why God?
Last week we looked at this problem as the result of the ‘Fall’ influenced by a being called Satan. This choice by humans to follow Satan instead of God caused physical and spiritual separation from God that has been passed down to all of us (Genesis 3). This was not God’s original design for us but what we see today is humans, in our fallen nature, continuing to make bad choices that result in evil and suffering.
All humans have the innate feeling that things are not the way they ought to be. What we experience is what is because of the ‘Fall.’ This idea can be broken up into three primary factors:
- There is a “principle of evil” in the world where Satan and his forces cause significant suffering by deception, as he did to Adam and Eve, yet people still choose to follow him:
John 8:42-44: Jesus said to them “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
- We bring much of the hardship we experience on ourselves through bad choices:
James 1:13-15: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Notice that temptation and testing are two different things…
- The ‘Job’ factor: God allowed Satan to test Job and sometimes we too are tested:
Job 2:3: Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” (Job 2:3)
How do you respond to testing?
In this story we find the ultimate message of hope—Job’s response is faithfulness to God as he experienced the effect of evil and suffering: But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! (Job 19:25-26)
This isn’t just a problem for me, a Christian, it is the problem of everyone walking the face of this earth. Everyone has to offer a solution for it, in the context of their worldview, the question is, who has the best answer? This is where Christianity excels! -Greg Koukle
We have the knowledge of God’s grace through Jesus Christ and His Word found in the Bible. We all have the ability to choose what side we want to be on and how we will handle the problem of evil and suffering:
Titus 3:3-7: At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
If you are suffering or wrestling with the problem of evil just think about this: 100 years of suffering in this lifetime is mathematically erased when we reach our eternal home with God, through Jesus. Eternity will last forever (and that it is a very long time)!
Check out the claims of Christianity, you will find the truth and the truth will set you free!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
For further reading I highly recommend following Biola Professor Clay Jones and his work on the problem of evil and suffering.
Let me know what you think:
- Are these factors reasonable or are there other things to consider?
- How does atheism or naturalism address the problem of evil and suffering?
Join us next week as we will start a new series in the Case for Christianity.
Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord.
1 Peter 3:15
In these posts I am going to continue to present logical reasoning and sound scientific evidence not found in the public school textbooks.
This blog is part of a series. You can start the series by going back to the September 1, 2014 Introduction called A Case for Christianity: Why do we need one?