This world is a mess. We see evil all around us. Innocent lives are lost every day from famines, disease, natural disasters, accidents, and the evil of man. Let’s look at just a few tragedies of recent history:
This just scratches the surface. Just this past year we saw thousands dying in a tsunami in Japan, tornadoes in southern Missouri, fires in West Texas. Today over 26,000 children die each day from a preventable cause. AIDS has ravaged the continent of Africa and the Horn of Africa suffers from one of the most devastating famines in history. There are hundreds of thousands of child soldiers forced to kill and die around the world as human-trafficking is at a record high.
One of the atheists’ greatest calling-card is to point out this death and destruction as a question about God’s existence. If God does exist, is He powerless to prevent these things or does He just not care? On the surface, this may appear to be valid logic, but I want to examine why these things happen and how these issues are a natural response to God’s design for us.
To understand the design, we must go back to the beginning:
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
– Genesis 1:31
The important thing to note here is what God says about everything He made. It was very good. Although the goodness of creation still abounds, we now also see many hurtful things in it as well. It has apparently deteriorated to some degree and in a minute we’ll see why. Let’s continue in Genesis:
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
What did God do here? He had the perfect world created and man was good as well. But then God goes and gives this man a choice. Obey me or don’t. This introduced a whole new aspect of life. The man was free to make a choice and to experience the consequences of that choice. God told him right here what the consequence of this action would be… death. Why? Wouldn’t it have been simpler to not put that tree there to begin with?
Freedom to Choose
God’s motive was simple. He could’ve kept Adam free from evil in a perfect Eden, but would Adam truly love Him? God wanted Adam’s heart (and ours as well). He isn’t after blind obedience. He wants our love and obedience to be given freely. To accomplish this, man had to be given the freedom to choose between good and evil. This is why God placed that particular tree in the garden. This was not just any tree, but one that would provide a sense of moral understanding.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
This sense of moral understanding came with a heavy price. Think about it. How do you know if something is good? By contrasting it with something evil. How can we contrast something against evil if we never experience it? For example, have you ever toured a large cave? Most of the time when you tour a cave, the guide leads a group down into the cave along a lit pathway. Usually at some point in the belly of the cave the guide will then prepare everyone, then turn the lights off. Poof. Pitch darkness. Most of the time you literally cannot see your hand in front of your face. Why do they do this? Because you as a visitor to the cave have no real understanding of just how dark it gets in there because you have only experienced it in a lit condition. This makes us appreciate the light as we travel back out of the cave. Likewise, for us to understand goodness, we have to experience evil or at least see the effects of it.
After Adam and Eve partake of the tree, God tells them the price of that knowledge:
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
– Genesis 3:17-19
Notice a few things here. “cursed is the ground for thy sake” and “thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee”. The Earth was going to change because of this decision. The goodness of it would diminish. Also He tells the man, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.” In other words, the easy life was over. Life was going to be hard. Life is still hard today. Everyone has problems and trials until the day they die.
The Result of the Fall
Because of this one decision made by Adam, sin and death entered into this world. Darkness and evil became part of this world. A need for someone to redeem us from this darkness and death came into existence.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
– Romans 8:22-23
Everybody and everything in creation is groaning for redemption! So, in keeping with God’s desire to have man love Him what does this do? It provides the opportunity for Him to step in and save man from himself. Man was free to choose, chose poorly, now he needs a redeemer, and God stepped in to save us.
For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
– Romans 5:17
The Free Flow of Evil
But man is still free to choose. Even today. The result of that freedom is more evil. The evilness of man has continued to flow and multiply since Adam. Likewise, the Earth has continued to flourish with evil as well. The price of losing that perfect garden introduced the need for tectonic shifts and destructive weather patterns. Thus earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and famines exist in abundance.
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
At one point in history, God even needed to wipe the slate clean with a global flood because of the flow of evil in man. Jesus predicts this will continue but we need not be troubled.
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Notice Jesus states, “all these things must come to pass”. It is not pleasant and God doesn’t take pleasure in it. It is necessary for Christ to work his redemption in us.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
– John 16:33
The Price of Overcoming the Evil We Chose
Jesus overcame death and the evil of this world for you. But why do so many innocents have to die? How can God stand by and watch it all without interfering somehow? He didn’t just stand by. He endured more pain than this world could ever create. God knows the price of evil more than we ever will, no matter how much tragedy we encounter. Because God watched as His own son was bearing the weight of all of the evil that man ever created. All of it. All the murders, rapes, incests, genocides, and holocausts were placed on him and in him as he became sin upon that cross. Jesus didn’t just endure physical torture, but a spiritual one as well. God listened as His own son cried to Him:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
– Psalms 22:1-2
So where was God on September 11, 2011 while terrorists killed over 3,000 Americans? He was there.
Where was God on December 7, 1941 while Japan was bombing Hawaii? He was there.
Where was God on April 15, 1912 as the Titanic sank? He was there.
Where was God when the Indian Tsunami killed 250,000 people? He was there.
Where was God when the earthquake in Haiti claimed 300,000 lives? He was there.
Where was God during the Jewish Holocaust as 6,000,000 were killed? He was there.
Where is God today in the Horn of Africa where famine is tearing apart lives by the thousands? He is there.
He is there.
He is there watching, hurting, and longing for those who are experiencing such loss and tragedy to come to Him and find His son who overcomes the world.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
– Revelation 22:17
You now have a choice and He was the ability to say, “whosoever WILL, let him take the water of life FREELY” and until we leave this Earth, we’ll have to suffer the consequences of having that choice.