One of the major objections to believing that God really exists is the presence of evil in our world. We see it everyday, all around us. Why? Why is there so much pain and suffering on this globe called earth?
Every person asks this question. Whether it’s a five year-old getting ridiculed in Kindergarten, a teenager being beaten and stabbed after school, a college girl enduring post-abortion trauma, a father losing his wife and children in a plane crash, or lonely widow suffering through the pain of cancer – the presence of evil and suffering are everywhere, affecting everyone no matter what stage of life they’re in.
How do we make sense of it? Over the years, many people have thought and wondered how the existence of evil and pain could make sense if God exists at the same time. Isn’t this contradictory? Not necessarily.
Two types of evil
First, what is evil? In one scenario, a horrible hurricane sweeps in from the ocean onto the coastland killing hundreds of civilians and leaving thousands stranded. Such natural disasters are considered natural evil – evil not resulting from human decision or action. On the other hand, when Jack steals Moe’s wallet, this is considered moral evil – evil resulting from a human decision or action.
Of course, there is some overlap. We always hear of a few people who refuse to leave their homes when the hurricane warnings come, and they stubbornly stay behind to weather the storm. We tend to read about these cases in the obituaries. Nevertheless, evil is generally divided up into two kinds: natural and moral.
Seeing the big picture
Just like eavesdropping for a few seconds on a conversation will not give you an accurate understanding of what people talking about, Christianity doesn’t make sense if understood in little bits and pieces. One has to hear the whole story first before the little details are properly placed and begin to make sense.
So it is with Christianity. The Christian explanation of the problem of evil will not make sense unless it is first put in the context of the whole Christian worldview. Who wants to walk in late to a theatre and see only five minutes of a movie before being asked to leave? You want your money’s worth! You want to see the entire film! Well briefly, here’s the whole Christian picture.
There is one God who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. In His love, He created all things from nothing and made humans as the best of His creation, being made in the likeness or image of God. Humans were made to glorify God by having a relationship with God and enjoying Him forever. To glorify God simply means to honour, cherish, and praise God.
However, it didn’t take long for people to rebel against God. This rebellious attitude and action known as sin broke our relationship with God and we brought eternal judgment upon ourselves. We are all guilty, no exceptions; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But God, in His deep mercy, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die on behalf of sinners. As a result, whoever believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and that He died for the forgiveness of all their sins will be saved. Saved from what? From the just punishment of our sins and eternal separation from God, namely Hell.
Christians, now forgiven of their sins and brought back into a right relationship with God, can return to fulfilling the very purpose they were created – to glorify, honour, praise, and enjoy God. Most importantly, Christians experience the hope of eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, He will judge with perfect fairness every human being that has ever lived according to what they have done.
Only those who trust and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be saved. All others will be cast into Hell because of their sin. Then Jesus Christ will make all things new by re-creating the world and destroying forever all evil, sin, and suffering.
This is the wonderfully true and good news of Christianity. And it is in light of this story, as told from the Bible, that we now proceed with the question, “Why does God allow evil and suffering?”
Three Christian responses to evil and suffering . . . 1.2.3
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