We have recently started a new series of messages in both churches on the problem of evil. This issue is probably one of the greatest problems facing Christianity today. It’s a problem that has caused many to reject the message of Christ and even deny God’s existence. So what exactly is the problem of evil? Many describe this problem by asking several questions. For instance, If God exists, why is there evil in the world? Where is God in the midst of pain? What purpose could there possibly be for all of the pain and suffering in this world?
Without a doubt all of us have asked these sort of questions. We see the world in which we live with so much pain and suffering and we find it hard to understand why God would allow things to continue this way. All you have to do is watch the news or read a newspaper to understand the seriousness of this problem. It has been said that if you live long enough you will suffer and if you live a short life and avoid the full blown effects of pain you will cause the pain of bereavement on the loved ones that you leave behind. We cannot escape this problem. It’s all around us.
I cannot say that I have experienced a great deal of pain but I know that eventually I will experience it in my own life or in the lives of those around me. It’s often difficult for me to find the words to say to those that are in the midst of pain. Sometimes the best we can offer is silence and a shoulder to cry on. I echo the words of C.S. Lewis when he said, “When pain is borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
I believe if we’re honest we would have to admit that all of us have problems understanding why God would allow so much suffering and pain in this world, especially when we consider the abuse and torture of children and those unable to defend themselves. It would appear from our vantage point that a lot of the suffering in the world is pointless. We love God, we trust Him and worship Him but many times we do not understand His ways. After all as God says, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8)
By the way, if you find it hard to understand this problem you’re in good company. The Bible is full of examples of characters that pleaded for God to explain the persistence of evil. Even whole books of the Bible like Job and Lamentations are dedicated in great part to this problem. Reading through Ecclesiastes I found these verses that summarize our frustration with the current state of affairs, “So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)
Thankfully in Christ there is hope. Salomon here raises questions about evil which ultimately find their answer and complete satisfaction in the cross of Christ. During the next few weeks I would like to share with you my personal study on the problem of evil. We will discuss four topics: The reality of evil, the origin of evil, the purpose of evil and the future of evil. I approach this subject not as a philosopher or scientist but as a preacher. I unapologetically profess a Biblical Christian worldview. I believe Christianity explains everything including the problem of evil. I hope these posts will be helpful to you as you deal with this issue on a personal level or as you help others deal with this issue.