I got the phone call: “Andrew, sit down. I have some news to share with you.” I knew it was going to be devastating. What I heard next filled my heart with great sorrow – my best friend had been killed in a tragic car accident. The questions flooded my mind: how could this have happened? Where was God?
I was faced with a tough issue: I believed that God was completely good and was completely in control. But how could a good and sovereign God let bad things happen like letting my best friend die in a car accident? For many people, the problem of evil confronts them with the greatest obstacle to belief. Evil is real. So either God is not good or God is not in control, or he just doesn’t exist.
At the heart of the problem is the belief that evil is pointless. If I cannot see the purpose why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good reason. Too often people are confident in their own reasoning rather than being humble to admit that we don’t really know what is going on in the unseen realm.
For many people, the problem of evil is not that there is evil but that it seems pointless and they cannot see how a good and all-knowing God can allow this harm to come to them or someone they love. Just consider the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. The young dreamer boy is mistreated and suffers terrible hardships at the hands of his brothers, by a jealous woman, and is forgotten in prison. Yet all of these events came about to bring Joseph to a place where he was second in command of all of Egypt and able to bring about great social relief. What was meant for evil by his brothers ended up being used for good by a gracious God (Gen. 50:20).
Most people can attest to this truth – that time provides a vantage-point by which they see how good has come out of hardship and evil. This does not minimize the pain or harm that comes with evil. However, God is so great that he can make evil serve his good purposes, even when we don’t immediately see it.
The Lord Jesus was not a man unfamiliar with suffering and unacquainted with grief. If there was ever a person who suffered and experienced what could appear to be pointless evil, it was the Lord Jesus. Tried and convicted yet having done no wrong, his death looked like it was for no good reason. Yet in the purposes of God, his death would bring many sons and daughters to glory.
We can affirm people’s suffering and the experience of pain by encouraging people not to look at the short term, but pray with and for them so that they might have hope that there is a God who is working even when we cannot see.
Trusting in the eternal work of our God,
Missional Action Plan: Who is someone who struggles with pain and evil? Pray that the Lord will give you opportunity to share in their sufferings and be intentional in praying for them.
Missional Action Prayer: Father, would you help me to share the burdens of people around me so that I might remind them that there is nothing pointless in your work. Amen.
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.
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