Friday, November 8, 2019

The Problem of Evil

Faith is hard at times. There is the disciple who said, “I believe, but help my unbelief.”  The prophet Isaiah spoke for God saying, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts…So is my word goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:8-11).

I have said that this country does not have a very good theology of suffering or hardship. Even Jesus said, “Why have you forsaken me?” Pain is hard and trials will accomplish their purpose, to make us mature and complete lacking nothing. God will answer, He is not slow and His arm is not too short as one Rabbi said in Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People. He initially thought that God did not have the power to intervene and change things. He does and His intent is to bring paradise back to a New Earth.

Ever since the beginning of man, we have been unfaithful and disobedient, bringing sin and sickness into the world. It was not created this way, but sin has brought decay and trouble. The Psalmist praises the God “who forgives all of our sins and heals all of our diseases, lifts our lives from the pit and satisfies the desires of our hearts that we might fly on wings of eagles.”  When I was suffering from tick borne illnesses that a medical school thought would be fatal to me, I prayed the words of the Psalm 103 written above and I was miraculously healed. Not all people are and God is not uncompassionate in not healing some.  David frequently cried out to God without seeing answers. But God hears and answers all prayers of faith unless we have unconfessed sin in our lives, and then He does not hear us.

Scripture is full of valleys and death, a natural part of life. It is God’s power that is working in our weaknesses as we trust and give thanks to Him in, and not for all things, for He is in all things.

He is compassionate and loving, full of mercy. His plans are to prosper and not harm us for a hope and a future, He tells us through Jeremiah. But we need to obey as there are consequences to sin and trials do occur. Our thoughts are not adequate to understand God’s ways. Yet He tells us His plans in Scripture. There have been over 300 Biblical prophecies that have come true as written in the most accurate book ever written. There are nearly 15,000 manuscripts of the Bible that are practically identical, written by 40 men inspired by the Holy Spirit over 1,500 years. They tell us that the creation of the nation of Israel was the last prophesy needed before Christ’s second coming or return to rule and reign and rid the world of evil.

Why does God wait until the end times to rid the world of evil, natural and moral? It’s the moral issues that are hard because man has free will and often choses cruelty, avarice and selfish power to try to control circumstances. God allows this and as a result many a hurt. He also allows us to combat or fight evil and to make morally good choices. Humans are not capable of solving the problem of evil because we will do things contrary to God’s intentions. God points us to good and gives us potential for it through the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit at salvation. This atonement brings us an imputed holiness through Christ that can overcome evil by making right choices in a sanctified or righteous life. Good is what glorifies Him and fulfills His will. That is, God wants us conformed to His nature. This is not a short-term view, but one that evaluates temporary suffering in light of eternal glory. God is looking to the greatest good.

God has announced a curse on mankind awaiting redemption from the bondage of sin. God did not create sin He merely provided the options of freedom that could result in sin.  But God allows sin and pain and suffering to bring us closer to Him. God grieves our sinfulness and is a victim of it. So He has provided the victory over sin through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection.

If this life were all there is then the problem of evil would be unresolvable. But Christianity’s doctrine of life hereafter teaches that there will be a great time of judgment- every sin will be recognized and the godly will be revealed. Punishment for evil will be justly administered, and the final dimension of eternal life will be granted to all who have responded to God’s loving offer.  Thus the complaint of the evil prospering and the righteous suffering will be satisfied.  God is making all things new in creating a new heaven and earth without sin when He returns very soon. Then we will be perfect.

One more problem. How could a loving God send anyone to hell? He does not; it is our choice to be left alone by God, therefore experiencing His absence forever- hell. Death is not final for either the believer or non-believer; it is simply choosing light with God or darkness and the absence of God forever.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.