Searching for a good God in the midst of evil
I quickly skimmed the first chapters of “The Shack” and my worst fears came to life within its pages. How could God allow a little girl be kidnapped and killed in the hands of grown man?
It was so scary and close to home as a mom of four girls, that every part of my being cried out to God, “Why? Why do such things happen on your watch?” In that moment, I had to admit part of me had doubts about God’s goodness. It’s the part of me that talks back when I pray for the safety of my loved ones.
Why should you be saved from pain?
Much better people experience great struggle and tragedy.
Why are you praying for prevention when you know God doesn’t really do that?
How can we follow an all-powerful God who doesn't seem to intervene when evil men prey on the vulnerable? Although “The Shack” did a decent job of displaying some of God’s character in human terms, the truth can get lost if we use allegory as a source of theology rather than entertainment. When we use anything but God’s Word to explain the world, we will always fall short.
So why is evil allowed to exist when an all-powerful God is capable of stopping it?
To understand anything about how God works, we have to look to the Bible to understand who God is. Only when we know who God is and who we are in relationship to Him can we gain insight into how He deals with the sin of this world.
Who We Are
1. We are sinners.
Psalm 51:5 says we are sinful from birth. We don’t have to teach toddlers to think about themselves first. We all have the capacity to be selfish, but those who have been sinned against and suffered maltreatment are even more likely to act on their anger in extreme ways (Ecclesiastes 7:7).
2. We are evil.
We have often heard it said that people are generally good, but according to Jeremiah 17:9, we are actually evil at heart. We don’t like to think of ourselves that way, but the Bible repeatedly says we're all inclined to sin.
3. We have a free will.
God gave us the ability to choose Him (Isaiah 55:6-7). Since God is all powerful and all knowing, it is hard to reconcile that He does not intervene to prevent bad. But if God stopped all the bad things that happen, we wouldn’t really have free will at all. We’d be like robots. True love can only exist within the context of a choice. God gives us that choice while drawing us to Himself.
True love can only exist within the context of a choice.
Because sin is a reality in the world and we have evil bound up in our hearts, we have to fight against the evil one who seeks to destroy us (Luke 6:45 and 1 Peter 5:8). If we don’t, we’ll be more inclined to perpetuate satan’s lies instead of Jesus’ love.
Who God Is
1. God is a loving Father who made a way for sinners to be saved.
God refused to leave us alone in our sinful state. He provided a way for all who believe in Him to not suffer the consequences of sin (Romans 5:8). In His mercy, He wishes for all to come to repentance, which is why he does not intervene and “zap” us when we sin.
God is patient (Numbers 14:18). We should not mistake His lenience for weakness or be frustrated with His temporary lack of action. In God’s mercy, He postpones judgment to give us time for repentance.
2. God is a promise keeper who will judge sin.
Jesus is the final judge, jury, and executioner. In Romans 12:19, the Lord says He will avenge evil. This isn’t some pansy, slap-on-the-wrist sort of punishment but eternal torment (Revelation 21:8). Our infinitely powerful God will exact judgment on evil and punish the unrepentant more severely than we could ever imagine.
3. God is our redeemer.
God can take the most broken stories and bring life and hope from them in incredible ways. The people we admire most in this life are the ones who have scars from the battles they’ve fought and won by trusting in God. When we allow God to heal our hurts, we gain a depth of strength and beauty only He can provide (Isaiah 61:3).
While some people struggle with the existence of an all-powerful God when evil appears to flourish, others just want to stump Christians with “gotcha” questions. Don’t be dismayed when this happens. There will always be questions we can’t fully answer, and that is a good thing.
Take comfort in knowing mankind will never outsmart God. We have an infinite God whose ways are much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). We won’t understand everything this side of heaven. We are not meant to know everything, but to embrace the questions that motivate us to dig a little deeper into who God is and who He created us to be (1 Corinthians 13:12).
God is big enough to handle our questions, and we’ll find peace when we seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13).