September 24

September 24
by Pastor Jonna
 
“Why Is There Evil in the World?”
Job 42:1 – 6
 
Job is one of those fascinating stories in the Old Testament, wherein the common
notion of retributive justice is severely challenged (the expectation of good for good
and evil for evil). It is amazing how many times we hear in Scripture that God
doesn’t work this way, yet we still expect Him to. We expect, and perhaps demand,
that God perform the good that we have in mind, and at the time that we think is
best.
 
One of the reasons I have heard for someone not believing in God is because of the
problem of evil. You know the question: If there is a God, why would this God allow
evil? This God must therefore not be good, because of the evil in the world.
To those who may be reading this and are stuck on this very question, I want to
affirm your question. This question is a challenge to all people – even believers. And
Christians frankly don’t have a simple response. One answer is that God created
humans with free will – to live in a way that promotes life or death. From the
beginning, death was chosen, and we live with the consequence of a sinful world.
Because of the sin in the world, all creation suffers. Another answer is that God does
not will the evil that happens in the world, but He does allow it. A third answer is
that God’s purposes are often outside our purview; what we think is best may not be
what God desires.
 
When someone is in the midst of pain, it is wise not to try to reason with them.
Reasoning and a more thorough theological conversation can come later; friendship
is what is longed for now.
 
If you are not in a place of great pain, I encourage you to explore a little more with
me. In a book of sermons, entitled Strength to Love, Martin Luther King Jr. writes, “I
do not pretend to understand all of the ways of God or His particular timetable for
grappling with evil. Perhaps if God dealt with evil in the overbearing way that we
wish, He would defeat His ultimate purpose. We are responsible human beings, not
blind automatons; persons, not puppets. By endowing us with freedom, God
relinquished a measure of His own sovereignty and imposed certain limitations
upon Himself…God cannot at the same time impose His will upon His children and
also maintain His purpose for man. If through sheer omnipotence God were to
defeat His purpose, He would express weakness rather than power. Power is the
ability to fulfill purpose; action that defeats purpose is weakness” (83 – 84).
 
Who am I in the face of an almighty God, to claim to know how He desires to unfold
His plan? Who am I to know what is best more so than Him?
 
This is the place Job comes to at the end of the book – a place of utter humility in the
face of a God whose plans are beyond what Job is able to comprehend. This man,
who challenged God and was confronted by this living God, is brought to humility,
because Job recognizes that he is not God and does not know God’s purposes.

What an incredible example and reminder for us! Job is a reminder that you and I
are not God and likely have shortsighted solutions to God’s ultimate purpose. There
is no simple answer to the question of evil, but the reminder is simple: God is
present and His ways are not often our ways.
 
Heavenly Father, You are good and Your ways are good. We are often quick to
believe that You should act in certain ways and are prone to be angry with You. We
thank You for the reminder that You alone are God. Help us to know You as You
truly are and to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. In his name we pray.
Amen.

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