Why all the death? Gaza and Israel ... Malaysia Air and Algeria Air ... Russia and Ukraine ... what's going on? Where's the loving God we're always talking and singing about?
The pace of tragedy in our world seems to be growing. The headlines remind us daily we live in an unpredictable world. Worse than that, we live in a dangerous world where hatred is redefined as zeal, treachery as strategy, and evil apparently triumphs over good on a regular basis.
There are only two choices when it comes to assigning a reason behind these events. Either we are living in a world that has no guiding principles, no rhyme or reason, and is completely the result of random chemical processes. Or we are living in God's world, under his sovereign control. Either way, we've got some hard thinking to do.
If this is a random world then we shouldn't be too concerned about evil. It's to be expected. If "nature" selects who wins and who loses, then losing will be commonplace as the strong supplant the weak, even stooping to evil mechanisms to do so. In fact, if all is random, even evil isn't really evil since there can be no such thing in a random universe. Things just happen, and without some absolute law there can be no absolute good and evil.
Some will opt for this explanation of our world. But those who do must realize they forever deprive themselves of being angry when tragedy strikes simply because to do so presupposes that good is possible, nature has made a mistake, and their definitions are the right ones. Remember, the guys who drove their airplanes into the World Trade Center believed they were acting righteously. If there exists no absolute standard then their standard of right and wrong would have to be as valid as ours.
But I can't live that way. To relegate all to random processes without purpose is to lose all hope that "good" exists, and life has real meaning. I carry within me the sense my life is going somewhere, my actions matter, and I am, after all, responsible to live up to a certain standard. In other words, I believe in God who creates and superintends and ultimately will hold us all accountable for the way we have lived in his world, treated his creation, and obeyed his directives.
Of course, that means I have some deep explaining to do as well. If God's in charge, why does he let bad things happen? Isn't that the foundational question when it comes to thinking about God? And further, why did he allow evil in the first place? If he could have created without it, then why did he include it in his plan for human history?
We've all asked these questions whether we're willing to admit it or not. I suspect many keep these questions in their back pockets and bring them out whenever challenged to consider the place God has in their lives. They become a refuge from all the "silly faith talk" around them. The presence of evil is their excuse for never seriously considering the existence of God, and what it would mean for their behavior and eternal destiny.
Here's my answer: God could have created any of myriad kinds of universes. He could have created 7 genders, only 3 colors, and only 2 tastes, or any combination of millions of variables. This means our universe, complete with evil and violence constitutes the best of all possible universes, since God would not be God if he created anything but the best.
But now I have to define "best." This universe is "best" in that it is the best universe for God to accomplish whatever his purpose was in creating in the first place. So, the question is this: What is God up to? What is God's purpose in creating anything anyway?
The answer is simple: God is always about his glory, and apparently, God is at his best in the rescue of broken, sinful people who are not even looking for rescue, and could not rescue themselves if they wanted to. God is at his best forgiving our sins, and covering our shame with his gracious honor. God is at his best overwhelming our evil with his goodness. God is at his best stooping to our weakness, transforming our lives through Jesus Christ, and forming a people that will champion his grace and bring glory to his name.
Thus, evil is a necessary component. For God to be recognized as a loving, gracious, and powerful rescuer, there had to be the slough of human brokenness, complete with evil, wicked, and self-centered strategies filing the hearts and minds of mankind.
I am sure there are more questions, and I'll take them up in the coming days:
1) Where did evil come from in the first place, and if God brought it about , doesn't that make him a sinner?
2) Why can't God just keep the evil things from happening now?
3) Is there coming a time when evil will cease or are we locked in this never-ending, tragedy filled live forever?