God, and the Problem of Evil
Discussion and Devotional Thought of the Day:
6 When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. 7 Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. Matthew 24:6-7 (MSG)
54 As the members of the Council listened to Stephen, they became furious and ground their teeth at him in anger. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God’s glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God. 56 “Look!” he said. “I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!” 57 With a loud cry the Council members covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, 58 threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul. 59 They kept on stoning Stephen as he called out to the Lord, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!” He said this and died. Acts 7:54-60 (TEV)
Yesterday was a hard day for so many around the world, and many closer to me.
There were the stories that made the news, the Malaysian plane shot down, the conflict in Israel, the conflicts in Sudan and Nigeria.
There are the other stories as well, that will not make the news, My friend whose memory is failing him. The family of a lady I visited in the hospital, whose heart is beating…yet whose body is shutting down, leaving her family without the one they count on for strength. There are parents whose children are facing procedures to could reveal the possibility of a lifetime of pain,
And yes, there are the martyrs like St. Stephen, and St Paul. Men whose faith is testified to, even by their enemies. Men of peace, who would give people the hope found in trusting Christ.
Which brings about a question, how do we survive the evil we encounter in the world? How do we cope with news that shatters hearts, that could shatter our faith? That could make us cuss and scream and yell at God. How can we imitate the faith of those who the Letter to the Hebrews describes,
33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:33-38 (NLT)
As a pastor, as someone who has served as a chaplain in jails, hospitals and with a hospice and homecare medical group, I’ve seen people do survive in such hard times, and not only endure, but be a blessing to those around them. Do they have some secret? No, save that they know Christ They know Him so well, they realize His promises.
They walk with Him,
We can even see them go through the stages of grief
Abraham bargained with God, even as he realized the evil of Sodom and Gommorah
Jeremiah was angry with God, even accused God of deceiving him, because of the ministry to His people.
Jonah deal with depression over God’s work to save people he didn’t like or trust
Job’s friends were awesome at encouraging denial of the truth,
just because we trust in God doesn’t mean we avoid evil – that we avoid the horrible days… but it means we move with Him through them. Guarded by Him, comforted by them, knowing His promises will be fulfilled.
For as they moved through the valleys of the shadows of darkness (evil) they learned not to fear, for God was there… and He will be with us.
That is how we deal with God and the problem of evil.. with the problem that things are wrong, messed up, screwed up, painful.
We look to Jesus, the author and One who perfects our trust in God.