Evil bombards our peaceful existence on a daily basis. There are wars and rumors of wars, famines, epidemics of disease, senseless violence, ruthless beheadings, and rampant abuse of the innocent. As a mother, there is nothing I would rather do than hold my baby close to me and not leave the safety of our couch. How will I teach my son about a loving, all-powerful God in the midst of such brutality? I have only three possible explanations to give him: either
1) God is helpless or
2) God is malicious or
3) God is sovereign
If the first explanation is true, then evil takes God by surprise and He is incapable of stopping it. He can only observe and bemoan the tragic state into which His beautiful creation has fallen. There would be no point in beseeching Him for mercy or deliverance because our prayers would be heard by helpless ears. If God is helpless than we have every reason to despair. Yet King David testifies to the greatness of God in his psalms. Here is one example of his confidence in God: “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and he will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, for they are many who strive with me.” (Psalm 55:16-18)
If there is validity to the second point, then evil is designed by God. He finds pleasure in the torture and suffering of His creation. Beauty and happiness are tools through which He can inflict more torture by creating and then destroying or giving and then ripping away. Those who have suffered beyond measure may be tempted to believe that He is a cruel God, and this belief fills their hearts with bitterness towards Him. However, Psalm 56:8 assures us that God collects our tears in a bottle and records them in His book. When Jesus walked this earth, He felt the pain of humanity. If God is malicious then we have every reason to live in fear.
This brings us to the third option and the one that Scripture validates. God is Almighty, the Creator and Keeper of Time. “O Lord God, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness and Thy strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Thine?” declared Moses in Deuteronomy 3: 24. He wrote the story of man and knows it from beginning to end. “…It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end…” (Revelation 21:6) Evil does not take Him by surprise nor does it render Him inept. He does not delight in the groaning of His creation; in fact, it pains Him deeply. This is made evident in the Creation account of Genesis. God’s original design was matchless beauty, perfection, and joy, and it stemmed from Man having a personal relationship with God. However, God granted Man the freedom to make his own decisions, and God, in His sovereignty, knew what decisions Man would make. Man chose to circumvent God’s commands; the consequence of this choice is the wickedness that remains with us to this day. We cannot violate God’s laws and expect reward. “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statues and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them.” (Deuteronomy 7:9-11). Since God is sovereign we can live in joy and hope knowing that evil will be repaid and our suffering is not without purpose.
I will tell my son that there is evil in this world because mankind has chosen to disobey God, and disobedience always results in punishment. Yet we do serve a faithful God, and He will draw near to those who seek Him. I will tell my son that we can be thankful that we love and serve a sovereign God Who keeps His promises to the thousandth generation – because that is us!