Disappointment with God Part 5
If God's So Good, Why Does Evil Exist?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
February 16, 2003




If God’s so good, why does evil exist? Good question, and a question that theologians, philosophers, and even sceptics have dealt with for centuries. Several possible answers have been proposed, but each one seems to spark more questions. And we’re not going to be able to exhaustively answer that question here this morning in just 20 minutes.

What we will do is give you a bit of a framework to help you understand how a good and loving God could allow evil and suffering to be so prevalent in our world.

The problem that we face really boils down to three statements which at first glance seem to contradict each other. You could take any two of them and have no problem, but when you take all three together, that’s when you need to think a little harder.

 

Three Statements that Appear Contradictory:

 

A. God is all good.

B. God is all powerful.

C. Evil exists.

 

These three statements don’t seem to go together. If God is so good and evil exists, why doesn’t he do something about it? He must not be able to, in which case he is powerless. But if God is able to eradicate evil, why doesn’t He? He must not be so good after all. And that’s the dilemma. Kind of a Catch-22.

So let’s look at these statements again, one at a time. We’ll go through the first two fairly quickly and then spend a bit of time on the third.

 

A. Is God all good?

Men and women throughout history would answer this by saying yes, without a doubt. God is entirely good. He provides for our most basic needs, and chips in for a lot of our wants, too. He blesses us with life itself. He gives our lives meaning and purpose. He embraces us with His love and tender mercy.

And many people, including me, would say from personal experience that God is good. No question. He loves me and has never given me any reason to doubt that.

And the Bible itself would say that God is good, without any hint of evil.

James 1:17-18 (NLT)
Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows. In his goodness he chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his choice possession.

1 John 1:5 (NLT)
This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.

Psalm 34:8 (NLT)
Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!

Is God all good? YES

 

B. Is God all powerful?

Well, let’s see. Just by speaking, God created the world and everything in it. He created the stars and arranged them in galaxies throughout the universe. He gave life to every plant, every animal, every person. He set the moon in orbit around the earth, and organized all of creation at the sub-atomic level. He built Mount Everest, and wrote the blueprint for your DNA. From the vastness of space to the minute details of life itself, God is in control. Seems to me that the creator of the cosmos is pretty powerful.

Let’s see what the Bible has to say…

Isaiah 40:25-31 (NLT)
"To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?" asks the Holy One.
Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.
O Israel, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case? Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.


Is God all powerful? YES


Of course, answering “YES” to both of those questions leaves us in a bit of a bind. If God is all-good, it seems logical to believe that He would want to destroy evil. If God is all-powerful, it seems logical to believe that He would be able to destroy all evil. So why does evil still exist?

 

C. So why does Evil exist?

Let me give you some statements to help you understand a little more how a good, loving all-powerful God could allow evil to exist:

1. God did not create evil, but He created the potential for evil.

God created us with the ability to choose. We often call this free will. It means that we have the capability to make decisions in everyday life, and we have the capability to decide whether we will love and honour God or if we will reject Him. When we reject him, evil becomes a reality.

Now, God could have made us without the ability to choose. But without the ability to choose, we would end up being his puppets. He wanted us to be able to freely choose to love Him and express that love to Him. He didn’t want to force us to love Him, because any love that is forced is not genuine. It needs to be offered willingly.

Of course, along with the ability to choose to love God comes the ability to choose not to love Him. And when we reject Him and reject Biblical morals and values, we’re left with what we call evil.

Listen to what Peter Kreeft, a philosopher at Boston College had to say about this…

“…it is not logically possible to have free will and have no possibility of moral evil. In other words, once God chose to create human beings with free will, it was up to them, rather than God, as to whether there was sin or not.
That’s what free will means. Built into the situation of God deciding to create human beings is the chance of evil, and , consequently, the suffering that results.”
~ Peter Kreeft

 

2. Evil is a corruption of what is good.

Think about rust. My car is starting to show some rust. Rust isn’t something that my car was built with, and it’s not a feature I had added later on. It’s simply something that is developing on the metal that is already there. It does not exits on its own, it’s part of the metal it contaminates. And now that it’s appearing on my car, it’s spreading to parts of the car that previously showed no sign of rusting.

That’s what evil is like. God created us with the ability to choose. But when the choices we make lead us away from God, that’s when evil comes into the picture. Free will is a good thing that God created us with, but evil is a corruption of that free will.

You can trace it all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When Eve and then Adam first choose to disobey God, evil entered into our world. And like rust it spread through every generation and even into nature. In fact, in Genesis 3 we learn that thorns and thistles appeared in the ground for the first time as a consequence of Adam and Eve disobeying God. That helps us understand why natural evil exists… things like earthquakes and floods and volcanoes and famines.

 

3. God could eliminate some evil, but the problem would still remain.

Could God have stopped the terrorists of 9-11? Yes. Could He track down Osama and take care of him? Yes. Could He remove any threat from Saddam? Yes. God could take care of all of these situations. And to be honest, I think God does more in these situations than we know. And I think there are plenty of things that we never find out about because God has already taken care of them.

But here’s the thing. God could take care of all of the biggies, but if there are still people who suffer from illnesses and diseases, if there are still people who are the victims of fraud or robberies, if there are still people who suffer the loss of a friend or loved one, then evil still exists and the question remains: Why does a good God allow evil to exist?

The only solution would be for Him to destroy all the evil, not just some of it. The problem is, that would mean He’s have to destroy you and me.

 

4. God could destroy all evil, but that would include you and me.

We may not all be murderers or rapists or international terrorists, but we are all experienced in evil in our thoughts, our actions, and our attitudes. In Matthew 5 it goes beyond murder to tell us that if we’re even angry with someone and treat them with contempt or call them names, we are acting in an evil manner. It goes beyond adultery to say that if we even look at a person lustfully it is evil. It says if you’ve every sought to get even with someone for something they’ve done to you, it is evil.

Romans 3:23 (NLT)
For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.

So instead of whining and complaining that God allows evil to exist, thank Him for not destroying you. Because when it comes to sin and evil, it’s only a matter of degrees, and God can’t stand any of it.

 

5. God has provided a future without evil for those who choose Him now.

This is the whole message of the Church: that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to face the death sentence that we deserved for our own evil so that we could experience a full and abundant life with Him now and forever in heaven.

2 Timothy 4:18 (NLT)
Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly Kingdom. To God be the glory forever and ever.

 

6. God has provided peace and hope in the face of evil.

I remember when my Great-grandmother died. She had spent a lifetime loving God and serving Him. Of course, she was getting older and was having an increasingly hard time getting around. She had survived a stroke and a broken hip, but was pretty much house-bound. During the last few years she even had a live-in caretaker.

So when she was 94 here health took a turn for the worse and deteriorated quickly. And we knew it wasn’t going to be long. She was in the hospital in Fredericton and all of the family was informed that it wouldn’t be long.

I wasn’t in the room at the time, but from what I understand the last thing she said was “Heaven at last!” After that she was in and out for a while until she eventually died. But what a powerful statement: “Heaven at last!” It was all she had hoped for. It was what she had looked forward to all of her life. And it was soon going to be a reality. This woman, despite her poor health and imminent death, found a source of peace and hope that can not be found anywhere else but in the person of Jesus Christ. And despite any evil that we encounter in life, He can be that source of peace and hope for us.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (NLT)
When this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true:
"Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

 

How Do I Cope With Evil and Suffering?

 

1. It’s okay to question God.

It’s okay to ask God, “Why?” It’s okay to express your grief and your disappointment and your frustration and your pain. God understands all of that and welcomes your honest questions. He’s faced worse.

We’ve mentioned King David over the past couple of weeks. You may or may not be aware that David wrote many of the Psalms we find in our Bible. Psalm 13 is one of them. Listen to this:

Psalm 13: 1-4 (NLT)
O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O LORD my God! Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die.
Don't let my enemies gloat, saying, "We have defeated him!" Don't let them rejoice at my downfall.


David obviously had some serious issues. He had faced evil and actually felt abandoned by God. So he expressed that openly to God. And I don’t think God minded that at all. Because God cares deeply about what we’re going through. And He wants us to be honest with Him.

 

2. God is still trustworthy.

You may be able to identify with David in feeling like you’ve been abandoned. You may want to know what the deal is with God. You may not understand why He doesn’t fight against the evil on your behalf the way you want Him to. But remember that God is still trustworthy even when your emotions may be trying to convince you otherwise.

We looked at the first four verses of Psalm 13. Let’s look at the rest:

Psalm 13:5-6 (NLT)
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the LORD because he has been so good to me.

 

3. God is working through the evil.

God doesn’t cause the evil, but He can use it for good.

Here’s the verse we’ve referred to many times during this series on Disappointment With God:

Romans 8:28 (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 

4. Do what you can to ease suffering.

The name “Christian” literally means “little Christ”. So as Christians, we are to be doing the things that He would do. You know that WWJD stuff that everyone’s wearing? That’s what it’s about: asking, “What Would Jesus Do?”

James 1:27 (NLT)
Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.

We help people who are suffering. We represent Jesus to them. That’s what it’s all about.

One of our Core Values here at Sunrise is Real Life Christianity. And this is real life Christianity… helping people who are suffering. Helping people who have been the victim of some kind of evil.

 

5. Wait and Trust.

This is not always easy, but sometimes it’s all we have left. We’ve done everything we can do, and it’s now up to God to do the rest. And when you wait for Him and trust Him, he’ll always come through for you.

Psalm 34:6 (NLT)
I cried out to the LORD in my suffering, and he heard me. He set me free from all my fears.

Trust in God because He is trustworthy.

Let’s pray.
 


 

 

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