One of the biggest complaints that I hear against God is this: “How could a good God be ok with the evil that happens in the world? Or more frequently it’s, “How could God let this happen to me?” Although there are many questions about God that do, this question has never given me heartache. Here’s why (I’ll give you a hint, it turns out He’s actually NOT ok with it):
God created a flawless world for us and gave us free reign of it. More than that, He gave us himself and perfect relationship with Him. We rejected the latter and as a result, we completely and entirely corrupted the former. At the moment of this first betrayal God already saw all of the evil that would happen for all of time unfolding—shootings and bombings to “smaller,” individual, daily acts of racism and hate. His grief was immense. He was, in fact, NOT “ok” with it. And from that moment, at the beginning of creation, He put a plan in place to repair, heal, and restore – both the creation and the relationship.
Before we even knew evil, God was grieving it and He was writing the redemption story.
So when people say “How could God not…” my immediate thought is “He does and that’s why He…”
I listened to a Tim Keller podcast the other day and one line struck me like an arrow to my heart: “Jesus didn’t come to bring judgment to the world, He came to bear it.” Exactly.
Some people hear the claim that “Jesus suffered and died to save us” and it doesn’t really mean much of anything to them. What I think often goes unrecognized is that the magnitude of Jesus’s suffering wasn’t in the physical suffering. It was in the “bearing of judgment.” Jesus bore the wrath and grief of God toward all evil (including the events of this week). That, my friends, is how NOT ok God is with evil. That was His own son, if you remember. The magnitude of his death wasn’t actually in the death itself either – but rather the fact that he LITERALLY raised himself from the dead in an act of utter defeat of death and evil.
My church often reminds us that Jesus’ kingdom looks eerily like the world He created (go figure): People of ALL color, ALL nations, ALL races, ALL genders, ALL ages. The idea of any one group holding more value in His kingdom than another is preposterous, and so should the idea be to us, even here. Jesus is the great equalizer. We are all equal before Him; equally sinful, equally loved, equally covered by the blood.
Whenever one of these evil tragedies that we’ve become so accustomed to takes place, I find myself reading and reading and reading people’s responses to it. I want so badly to know how people are hurting so I can try to hurt with them. I think I am also searching desperately for hope in their conclusions. But at the end of the day the only place I find even the faintest comfort is at the feet of Jesus where I can confidently say:
“THIS SUCKS. This hurts. This is the deepest kind of wrong. My friends are hurting. My country is hurting. Our world is SERIOUSLY HURTING. Don’t even get me started thinking about my kids growing up in this place…And yet, I never doubt whether you are OK with this or not. I know this hurts you even more than it hurts us. And I know that’s exactly why you came and bore the weight of all evil and death in order to redeem the world. You purchased us back from the grips of all the evil we are facing today with your precious blood.
If you were just “OK” with evil, you’d have turned your back the moment we chose to rebel against you and washed your hands of us all. You'd have left us to our own demise. Thank you for not doing that. Thank you that even now, as we continue to rebel against you every day, you still love us. Thank you that even now, as we experience great evil right under our noses, you have already defeated it. Thank you for your perfect peace in a world torn apart by terror. Thank you for the light of eternity.”