MAKING SENSE OUT OF EVIL AND SUFFERING IN THIS WORLD
God gave Adam and Eve choices. He said here in the Garden of Eden, you can eat of any tree in this garden; there is just one tree that you can’t eat of and that’s the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. On the day that you disobey Me and determine that you have the ability to determine right from wrong and good from evil on your own, apart from Me, you are going to die. First, you’re going to die spiritually and be separated from Me and later you’re going to die physically (Genesis 2:16-17).
Yes, the Scriptures make it plain that God did not create the world in the state in which it is now, but evil and suffering came as a result of the selfishness of man. When God created the world, it was absolutely perfect. A perfect God made a perfect man and woman, and set them into a perfect environment, then gave them perfect freedom – the ability to choose. There is a reason why God made man perfectly free; including free to sin. The Bible tells us that God is a God of love. We were created to have fellowship with God and enjoy Him forever. Most of all, He desires to have a loving relationship with us. But love is meaningless if we are not free to choose to love and follow God. Scripture tells us that we are the bride of Christ and He is our bridegroom (Revelation 29:9; Matt. 25:1-13). No bridegroom wants a “forced” relationship. But genuine love cannot exist unless freely given through free choice and will, and thus man was given the choice to accept God’s love or to reject it. God could have made angels and man so that they could not sin, like He made the stars to remain in their orbital positions. But He made us free agents, not robots. Without this freedom, His creatures would not be able to truly love God, for then they would only be programmed to love Him. God wants love that comes from a willing heart. He is not a God of force. He gave us freedom to choose whether to obey or disobey, to believe or not believe, to love or to hate, or to accept or reject Him. This choice made the possibility of evil becoming very real. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they did not choose something God created, but by choice, they brought evil and suffering into the world. God is neither evil nor did He create evil. If God had not allowed for the possibility of evil, mankind would be serving God out of obligation, not choice. As I said before, God did not create us as robots. We are not being guided down here on earth by a little string. He said, “I’m going to create you, I’m going to teach you how to live but it’s going to be your choice as to how you carry that out.” Man brought evil upon himself (deceived by Satan) by foolishly choosing his own way apart from God’s way.
If God destroyed evil, He would destroy our freedom. For you see, we must have the ability to choose evil. If we are not free to choose between good and evil, then we are not free, and our choice is no “choice” at all. God would have destroyed our capability for the highest good – for His creatures to choose to love him, believe in Him, and serve Him freely.
When Satan deceived Adam and Eve and perverted humanity through them, sin entered into the world. And with it came sickness, suffering, starvation, war, genocide, hate, crime, sorrow and confusion, etc. Scripture tells us that even nature groans for its redemption. Everything fell – man, nature, animals, and we became depraved people. So, today we are born into that depraved condition and still have choices but prone to make the wrong ones. That is why God had to come to rescue us. He saw man in his fallen condition, without any hope. Man did not have a chance or ability at all to correct or rectify the situation and obtain salvation. We were lost, spiritually separated from God, and that is why Jesus left His royal robes of heaven to come down to earth to become the atoning sacrifice for our sins and to offer us hope, salvation, reconciliation, and life eternal. God coming down to earth, to enter into His own creation to become Immanuel, which when translated means “God with us” – God dwelling among us (Matt. 1:21-23).
God created you and loves you so much that He wants you to get to know Him and to spend eternity with Him. It’s not about buildings (churches), rules, priests, ceremonies or traditions. It’s all about an intimate relationship with God and not a religion.
Although evil and suffering is here and it is real, it is also temporary. Evil and suffering will eventually be destroyed. This is the hope that the believer has. There is a new world coming in which there will be no more tears and pain because all things will be made new (Rev. 21:5) – a new heaven and a new earth. Paradise lost will be paradise regained. God will right every wrong and put away evil and suffering once and for all – in His time. In the meantime, here is a promise given to us in Romans 8:28 for those who love God. God is working “all things together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Although it may not always seem so! Sometimes when we are suffering heartbreak, tragedy, disappointments, frustration, and bereavement, we wonder what good can come out of it. But this verse gives us the answer: whatever God permits to come into our lives is designed to conform us to the image of His Son. When we see this, it takes the question mark out of our prayers. Our lives are not controlled by impersonal forces such as chance, luck, or fate, but our wonderful, personal, and loving Lord. Isn’t that great news!
People ask, “Where is God when there is all this suffering in the world?” I’d like to say to them that He’s right here, too. Let me assure you that God is present in the midst of our suffering and yes, He does care. God can use suffering for a greater purpose, but He doesn’t create suffering. Sometimes it takes a deep hurt to find a deep need for God, and He’s willing to use hurt and pain to lead us to Him. Look, while we may not have all the answers for why and how sin and evil are present in our world, we know that we have a God who is determined to permit sin so that He may demonstrate His righteousness and love towards us who believe in His Son. We know that Jesus has come to triumph over sin and evil and has promised to return to restore the earth and remove all forms of sin and its effect for all time (Rev. 21:4). So, we must believe what Paul says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to compare with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” This world is broken, and sin and evil are painful, but the Lord will use all of it for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
> Oscar Leske
F/B – Signs Of Our Times