In my last post, I asked the question of how a good God can exist in the midst of Pain:
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Today I want to offer an answer to the Problem of Pain, or at the very least, an explanation. For a question of such magnitude and circumference, there is no easy or perfect answer. Great philosophers and theologians have attempted this question for centuries, mangling through its uncertainty and the depth to which it effects the entirety of humanity. And at the heart of this big question is the desire to show that there may be reasons beyond what we see– that the existence of a good God in the midst of Pain is more than plausible, it is both logical and sensible.
So, here is how I understand the brokenness of a world that is held together by a loving and powerful Father.
I begin with a creator God. He is the one that has always been, existing before all things, enjoying perfect harmony with His two counterparts, son and spirit. In a desire to create, He spoke the very life we know into being and declared all that He had made good. Yet, He wanted His beloved creation to experience love in its fullest, truest form. For love cannot move within restrictions or be held together by form. That is not love.
Thus, He gave His creatures the liberty of having free-will. Giving us the choice to choose to live in fellowship with Him or in denial of Him. Free-will is to possess options, to be unbound by compulsion or force.
Though, we must note: Just because we have been given options does not mean that every option laid before us will lead us to good and beneficial things.
In the garden, a place of unspeakable wonder and unfathomable beauty, there were Adam and Eve and all of creation in their midst. He built the entire garden for them to live and told of them of the one tree they must not eat. Here is the rebellion: One tree amidst thousands of others and they choose to eat its fruit. The fruit is eaten and the consequences of wrong choice enter the world. All creation becomes tainted by this wrong doing, sin has now fractured the once perfect world.
From the beginning, Genesis’ origin, we were designed for our creator God. He built us with purpose, permitting us free-will but knowing that there is always and forever, only one choice that will ever grant us a truly fulfilled and joy-filled life. For we were made to be one with our creator. He carved the flesh and bones that make us who we are; He stamped humanity with qualities of His divinity, sealing us as His workmanship. We have been declared His. So that for as long we do not choose Him, we choose to live as less than who we were created to be and live below our fullest potential.
It is Him who encompasses all goodness, all beauty and all truth. In every instance we do not choose God, we choose the absence of these divine virtues. It is essential to understand that evil is not a “thing” or an entity of its own, rather, it is the direct result of wrong choice. Evil is good gone bad, perfection that is fractured. Without goodness the concept of evil would not be. So we see that even evil relies on the existence of God.
The murderer chooses death over life. The anorexic teenager chooses self exploitation over love of self. The bully choose animosity over kindness. The wife sleeping with another man chooses lust over commitment. The abusive father chooses violence over integrity. The murderer chooses revenge over forgiveness.
Everyday we make our choices. Just as Adam and Eve made their choice back in the Garden.
It seems that we free-willed creatures have the knack of choosing the very thing that causes us the most pain. Time and time again we make up our mind to deny God and choose sin, not only hurting ourselves, but hurting those around us. Just as it was so in the Genesis garden, so it is with us: Our choices have consequences that affect more than just ourselves.
But, when no one sees and no one is effected, what harm is done? you ask. But sin, it blinds, casting darkness on our lives. Through curtains of blindness it can be hard to see, but the thing is, sin always hurts a relationship. Whether it is between you and someone else, you and God, or you and yourself, a relationship is always broken when sin enters.
So in all of this we see that evil is not created by God but it is the result of human wrong choice. Therefore, the Creator is not to be blamed as the origin and perpetrator of evil.
But still you may wonder: If the origin of evil is free will and God is the origin of free will, then isn’t God the origin of evil? To this I say, only as much as parents are the origin of their children’s misdeeds by being their origin. Father of the world gave His children the power to have free choice. Would we prefer that He had made us robots instead of human beings?
The reality is that arguments or objections or not, this is the world we live in. Deceit soaked, pain heavy and suffering immanent, so how do we live in this?
We embrace hope. With everything we are, we cling to the promises of not only a good God, but an intimate and loving God.
And we live in daily remembrance that it is He who suffered first. Drenched in His own blood, scorned violently, bones broken, and left to die with the weight of all sin, what He did on that cross was no joke. Red stained wood and an empty grave changed absolutely everything, shook the foundations of the earth, and brought us a glorious hope we might never have known.
We live in the hope that He is a rebel with a cause. He is the ultimate lover of souls and freer of captives; the One who has come to make all thing new. Though right now the soles of our feet grate against the hard ground of this earth, we may rejoice in the joy to come:
A voice thunders from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making His home with men and women! They’re His people, He’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” He who sits on the Throne declares, “Behold, I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:3-5 Msg.)
So when pain comes to your home and suffering touches the people most dear to you, where shall you turn? The freedom is ours to yell and object and come into His presence kicking and screaming, and if this is where you are, I promise that He will meet you right there. In the midst of the thrashing, the wild resistance of a child in pain, He will hold you tight as sobs rack your body and the pain threatens to overtake.
I must tell you that I believe in an Artist God who is painting a picture too glorious for us to see. Though in our eyes it seems like a sloppy mess of chaotic colours, shapes and texture, He moves each brush stroke with purpose. He is creating something we know not of, because He is the creator and we are the created. Though we are not just the created, but we are His created. So in our pain, let us hold on to the promise that there is more than meets the eye, that just because we do not see, it does not mean the reason is not there. For He paints with intention. And oh, He is painting something incomprehensibly beautiful.
*This is only a brief overview on the philosophical and emotional Problem of Evil. I did not write this with the intent to write a comprehensive explanation, but to share the answer I have come to understand and truth that has brought peace to me.*