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The Problem Of Evil

What should we think when evil seems to be so prevalent? This week, the news carried a series of stories that are becoming far too familiar. There was another mass shooting leaving many dead and more wounded. Police in France were called in to break up fights between different national supporters during a Euro Cup game. The news from college campuses was about rape and degradation, not about higher learning. The Olympic Games, just a little over a month away, are threatened with the outbreak of new disease.  It seems that the four horsemen of the apocalypse are running wild.

Looking through the news stories of the last week, we can’t help but see and sense the pain and sadness that affect so many people. Our hearts tire of reading the same repeating cycle of events. We cry out with the saints of old, “How long, O Lord?”  Deep down we wonder, “Does God care about all of this? Will he do anything about all of this?”

Yes, he does care. In fact, he has already done something.

God’s answer is not what we expect. Certainly, it is not something that the world around us expects or understands. His answer to the problem of evil was to send Jesus. Through his suffering and death on the cross, Jesus has confronted evil in all its forms.

Nowhere in the Bible does it answer the question of why God allows evil. We wish it did. It would be so helpful to have that answer ready for every occasion. But the Bible is realistic. It calls evil evil. It names the horrible things that happen in our world. It doesn’t overlook the real damage and tragedy that it brings. What we do learn, however, is that evil is contained. Its power is limited.  It will be allowed to run its course and then it will be put away. Christ has already triumphed over it. Evil is finite and not eternal.

The Bible assures us that we are moving towards that day – that day when Christ will put an end to evil and all those who practice it. It has not yet arrived and so we live in this “in-between” time. C. S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, “They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”

This has long been the Christian hope: that God’s promises are what give all suffering purpose. We are told to be strong and courageous because “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

In the meantime, we are called to pray. A good prayer to start with is this: “Thy Kingdom come.”

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