The number one question youth ask me: Is why do bad things happen to God’s people? And the bigger question is: Can we as their youth pastor give not only a theological, but practical response?
Where is the goodness of God in the world, when there are third world countries who are starving to death? Where is the goodness of God when Hilter murder millions? Where is the goodness of God when your child died of a severe microcephalic condition? The logical response would be: If God is in all of these evil doings, then I do not want anything to do with God.
One may be curious to know how an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-sovereign God can be behind the suffering of the world? This is a very tough question dealing with the problem of Evil. The problem of Evil argument strongly can argue against the claim of Christianity. Atheists, especially Richard Dawkins, use the ideology of: How can a great God, create evil?
I want to submit to you a theological perspective, in four outlined points, that can explain why evil things happen to God’s people.
Firstly, our nature is cursed (Genesis 3 and Romans 8). In the beginning, God created the world and it was good (Genesis 1). However, humanity disobeyed and rebelled against God, bringing about a curse on the world and on humankind. Now due to the curse, all people are going to die. This is simply the natural process according to natural laws. Unfortunately, Satan is the Lord of this Land (Hebrews 2). According to the NT, Satan is the demonic host here on earth (Lk 13:10.16, Acts 10.38, 2 Tim 2.26, Heb 2.14-15). The world we live in is not under the reign of God, but under the reign of Satan. Our creation is in pain. Our creation is groaning and crying out like a woman who is in intense labor pains (Romans 8.22). C.S. Lewis said, “Every square inch of this cosmos is at every moment claimed by Satan and counter-claimed by God.” God’s original intention was not for His creatures and creation to have to experience death and tragedies. God did not want evil in His world, however when humans entered the world they brought on the curse and calamities.
Secondly, humans have free will. Humans have the freedom, ability, and the power to chose and determine what they want. Unfortunately, allowing this freedom creates evil amongst themselves and in the world. We must see the world and human beings as free agents. If one does see the world as free agents, then it is very difficult to explain a rational and theological response to evil in the world that is apparently in the “name of God”. This is Satan’s world and not God’s world. If one accepts that we, humans, have free will, then we can say humans have the freedom. This leaves humanity to be responsible and accountable for their actions, if humans decide to go against or outside of God’s will. Therefore we, as followers, do not have to adequately explain a purpose to why God orchestrated evil. Yes, God intentions are always good. However humans’ intentions are not always good because of their freedom. I would rather say the one that may have arranged the disaster or death was the enemy of lies who is trying to seek, steal, and destroy this earth and its people.
Thirdly, the Bible teaches that the whole creation needs saving. The whole creation is corrupt and has been hijacked by Satan (Colossian 1). We find throughout the Gospels how Jesus identifies infirmities (sickness, disease, deformities, and disabilities) as being directly or indirectly the result not of God’s punishing activity, but of Satan’s oppressive activity. Humanity and the creation needs to be reconciled. Essentially Jesus had to enter Satan’s turf, which made Jesus fair game and vulnerable to the evil ways of this world. Jesus had to play by the world’s rules. Jesus had to defeat the devil through death. At Calvary, Jesus destroyed the evils ways of this world (Heb 2.14, 1 Jn 3.8), reconciled all things, including humans, to Himself (2 Cor 5.18-19; Col 1.20-22); forgave us of our sins (Acts 13.38; Eph 1.7); healed us from our sin-diseased nature (1 Peter 2.24); poured his Spirit on us and empowered us to live in relation to Himself (Roman 8.2-16); and gave us an example to follow (Eph 5.1-2; 1 Pet 2.21). This is why Calvary is so central to Christianity. Calvary communicated redemption, salvation, comfort, hope, and victory through Christ and the cross. The cross is the reconstruction of the world’s corruption.
Lastly, God is not a God who ordains suffering. Suffering is the byproduct of human willed freedom. The question is not how does suffering fit into God’s perfect and specific plan? Suffering simply does not fit into His plan. The real question is: how are we going to run towards God, the ultimate comforter, in the midst of our un-comfort and suffering? We cannot assume that there is a clear given God intention for every evil situation that transpires not only in our life, but in the world. God is just as angry as we are when humans experience evil. God is relational. God wants to suffer with us. If you want to know what God looks like, we do not look at the evil doings, but we look at Jesus. God wants to bring on restoration and reconciliation. This weird principle of: Harder the life circumstance or suffering situation, the harder we need to lean into Jesus. Jesus is not in evil, but we need to be in Jesus when evil comes.
I am suggesting that unexpected death, tragedies, illness, diseases are not from God. It is far more biblical, and far more rational, to simply say that in a fallen, and oppressed world evil happens and leave it at that. Rather than trying to see the hand of the all powerful, all loving, and all good God behind death and disease. It’s wiser to simply acknowledge that the world is an oppressed place where things sometimes go tragically wrong and focus all of our mental and physical energy turning from our self-centered ways to carry out God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven”.
Comforting Challenge::Responding to Evil