How can there be an all-powerful, loving God, when there is evil in the world?
This is a question many of us stumble over. You hear it most often from self-professing intellectuals, then repeated by others, too stunned by the apparently flawless logic on the surface, to ask the deeper questions.
If most Christians are honest, they too, would confess experiencing doubt at one time or another because of that question. Many still are. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that I counted myself in that crowd. I never spoke up for fear of shaming from those other “well-meaning” evangelically minded Christians. You may know the type.
But God revealed the true answer to me in moments of brokenness.
The answer struck a profound chord. Still, I couldn’t articulate it effectively. I’ve known so many people who’ve suffered, some, out of their suffering, posing that very question to me. My answers in those moments were always clumsy. They left me feeling a failure for my lack of clarity.
Recently, I sat down to listen to Ravi Zacharias while folding laundry. Yes folks, when I do laundry, I do it philosophically.
In all seriousness, I love to listen to him. And in a series he did relating to his book: Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message, he answered that question in the most pointed yet profound way.
This, of course, is a paraphrase of his words, because I can’t remember them exactly. You can read them for yourself in his book, if you choose to invest in it (I know it’s on my to read list):
When you assume there’s such a thing as evil, aren’t you assuming there is such a thing as good? Aren’t you assuming there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil?
If so aren’t you assuming there’s a source of moral law…a being or source in which this moral law is contained? That’s whom you’re trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there is no moral law giver then there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, then there is no good or evil. What then, is your question?
When the skeptic invokes the presence of evil as a reality with which to disprove the existence of God, that skeptic is actually living in contradiction. Because unless this is a moral universe, there cannot be a moral reality. And the only way to posit a moral universe is if there is a moral being as its first cause. So when the skeptic talks about the presence of evil, unwittingly he or she actually smuggles in the presence of God.
He goes on to address the logical responses that follow when the skeptic becomes trapped by this revelation. The first response, of course, was to explain morals away as some fluke of evolution. That’s easily written off, even by evolutionists. But the second response struck a chord…
Couldn’t God create us so that we could only choose good and not even have the possibility of choosing evil? Could we not have a goodness that is constant, and sustained, and uninterrupted? The answer is, you’re asking for the ultimate ethic of love while saying the person has no choice in the process. Can you really sustain a choice of love if the person had no other option but to mechanistically yield to the choice that had been made?
In layman’s terms, is it really love if you’re nothing more than a puppet bending to God’s whims?
I think every common-sense person can answer that question.
So we come right down to the heart of the matter. Why is there all this evil in the world? We’re seeing a lot of tragedy right now, aren’t we? It cuts us to the marrow. Hurricanes, floods, fires, cancer, loss of the innocent.
But through the tragedy we’re also seeing glimpses of God.
God is light. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot comprehend it. In Him there is no darkness.
Do you know why that is?
How many of you know that scientifically speaking, there is no darkness? Darkness really is the absence of light.
“But,” you say, “I can see darkness. So it has to exist.”
No, you see the absence of light. Light illumines all things. It reveals the darkness for what it truly is.
God reveals the evils of this world, the tragedies, the hurts, the deaths, for what they truly are, the pains of a world desperately trying to live separated from Him. But it’s a world suffering and despising the pain because it wasn’t designed to live separate from Him.
We weren’t designed to live separate from Him!
That’s why we hate suffering. Because God hates it. That’s why we hate death. Because God hates it. We are created in His image. All things point to Him.
Even in the tragedies, God is working, revealing Himself through each circumstance. If you’re willing to look, you’ll find Him. And like the heroes working every day through floods, fires, and sickness, He’s holding out His hand, offering rescue.