what about evil and suffering? [the God i don’t understand]

natural disaster, earthquake, haiti

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

June 23, 2011

natural disaster, earthquake, haiti

[serialposts]Who of us hasn’t asked why bad things happen to good people? We’re confronted with the marks of living in a fallen world every day, yet we struggle to understand why we have to deal with such pain and suffering.

In the first part of The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith, Chris Wright deals with these issues. While he admits there are several aspects of this issue that we simply cannot understand, there’s some good news about the issue of evil.

The Mystery of Evil

Where does evil come from? What is it’s origin? In a universe created by a good God, there exists this thing that causes a great deal of pain and suffering. The Bible tells us about how evil entered into the human condition (Genesis 3), but is thereafter silent on explaining why it entered our existence or where it came from.

One could easily argue that the large majority of pain and suffering we experience is the result of moral evil committed by human beings. Our capacity for doing extreme evil seems to be one of the things that separates us from the animals.

However, during the Fall, it was the serpent that convinced Eve to take the fruit. We typically associate that serpent with the devil, and we also associate the devil with being a fallen angel. But following that through, we also know that angels are beings created by God to serve Him and do His bidding. So if that’s the case, then where did this idea come from that the angel Lucifer thought he could overthrow his Creator? As it relates to it’s origin, evil just doesn’t make sense.

The Offence of Evil

Even if we can come to some sort of resolution on moral evil, it’s even harder for us to really understand the natural evil that causes so much pain and suffering. I was in Haiti just months after the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated a large chunk of this poverty-stricken nation. And disasters like this happen regularly in our world leaving a trail of death and destruction that we cannot understand.

Many would ask if these disasters are God’s curse or judgement for human sinfulness. Honestly, the Scripture isn’t exactly clear on this point either. People often make claims to this point, but it’s difficult to make sense of it when good people also suffer in these events.

Whether it’s natural or moral evil, the pain that we experience as a result drives us to lament. Some that I know who have close ties in Haiti struggled a great deal after the earthquake. Their response is usually like the laments of David in the Psalms… “Why O God?” and “How much longer must we suffer like this Lord?”

The Defeat of Evil

Even with all of the uncertainty surrounding the reason for and origin of evil, there are some things that we can be certain of. We know that evil exists, and that it exists in direct opposition to the utter goodness of God. This is the tension that we live in every day as we deal with the impact of evil on our lives.

We also know that God is absolutely sovereign. And in God’s sovereignty, good can come out of the pain, suffering, and destruction we experience. When these events happen, there are almost always stories of great faith and hope that come out of them. That’s not to say that God caused it in order to create these testimonies, but that He can certainly use them for His benefit. This is the hope that we can experience now.

And finally, we know that there will be a day, when Christ returns, that evil, pain, and suffering will be eradicated forever. This is the hope that we look forward to.


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what about evil and suffering? [the God i don’t understand]

by Dan King time to read: 3 min