Sunday, June 10, 2012

God and the Existence of Evil

As soon as I started pondering the idea that God has complete control over absolutely everything, then immediately the first question to pop into my mind was how the existence of evil fits into His control.
The corollary of God having complete control over everything is that He is in control of evil as well as good. In fact, I have been coming to the conclusion that He may actually will evil just as much as He wills good. This idea seems to be an anathema to some modern Christians, but also seems to be an idea directly born out of the Scriptures itself (Isa 45:7, Amos 3:6, Job 2:3).

In fact the seminal event in God’s plan for us was predicated on evil; Christ’s death. There was no other way for our salvation to be fulfilled than for the Son to be crucified. Thinking hypothetically, salvation wouldn’t have been achieved if Jesus was recognised by Israel as the Messiah and crowned as King, or even if Christ started reigning the whole earth from Rome itself. No, God willed His Son to be crucified, and evil was necessary for salvation.

I remember in the past when I would experience my own personal evils of trials and suffering, and how I used to constantly question God as to why it is all happening; I just didn’t believe that it could be God’s will. That doubt produced all sorts of angst, sorrow, frustration and negativity. It just wasn’t a very pleasant way of dealing with things.

But I have been reading through the New Testament and seeing a totally different way of dealing with the trials of life. Scripture teaches that we are taught to rejoice in, and praise God, when going through suffering and even torture (Mat 5:11-12 Acts 5:40-41 2 Cor 8:2 Phil 4:4 Col 1:11 Jam 1:2 1 Pet 4:12-13). We aren’t instructed in Scripture to ‘beat your chest and mournfully implore God for answers’, nor ‘join together and wail for the sorrows of your trials’. What we do see in Scripture takes a far more positive and joyful tone:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 2 Cor 8:2

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Phil 4:4

They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing” Acts 5:40-41

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

The only way I can see that it is possible for the apostles to praise God in their torture and for us to rejoice in our trials as the Scriptures teach, is if the suffering/evil itself is God’s will, and God’s will is always worthy of praise, even if we don’t understand it. Of course God doesn’t will evil flippantly, nor for His own amusement, but rather for a good purpose and our benefit.

Perhaps the most poignant example of praise for God over the trials in ones life would be found in the words of Job:

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.  Job1:20-22

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