Evil abounds in the world today. Natural evil, suffering that is caused by the ground shaking or storms ravaging, is constant. And moral evil, the things we do to each other, seems to be a way of life. But how come evil exists in the world today? Could not God put an end to it? This is commonly known as the problem of evil.
This problem of evil is one that has troubled and challenged believers for a long time. If God is truly omnipotent, omniscient, and loving, surely he could produce a world where evil does not exist. And yet he did not. Could it be that he is not all-powerful? Or not all-knowing? Or maybe he is not as loving as we have been led to believe. Unless . . . maybe . . . God is indeed all of that, but he has a purpose in allowing evil to exist in our world.
There have been many attempts over the ages to answer the problem of evil. Some use it as an argument against the existence of God; at least God as described in the Bible. On the other hand, some use it as proof of the existence of God. That we accept that there is such a thing as absolute evil, would seem to point to an absolute moral standard, which in turn points to a moral lawgiver, God.
A Possible Answer
I do indeed believe that God has a purpose for allowing evil in the world. And it is not just because of humanities fall. That is not to minimize the fall and its introduction of sin into the world. But I believe there is another answer to the problem as well. An answer that would be true even without the fall.
What does suffering in this world to do us? While you might derive many different answers, there is one in particular that helps me in understanding the reason suffering is allowed in this world. Suffering makes me yearn for something better.
If there was no suffering in this life, I would be perfectly content with where I am and what I have. I would have no reason to want something better. But there is suffering. And as a result, I yearn for a better life. For the natural man, what that life might be is unknown, but that does not stop the yearning.
A Yearning for Heaven
In Ecclesiastes 3:11, the preacher says that “He [God] has also set eternity in the human heart.” What does that mean? I believe that the yearning we have for a better life has been put there by God. A yearning that is triggered by the suffering we experience.
And God uses that yearning to draw us to himself. To the better life that he has prepared for all who love him. The suffering and evil in this life make me more receptive to his call. If I was living in paradise on earth, I would not want anything else. But, because I do not, I look for more. I look for what only God can offer.
Not A Complete Answer
Now you may read this and think, what about innocents who suffer and die every day? This yearning that I am talking about would not seem applicable to them. And I would have to agree.
I don’t believe the answer to the problem of evil is simple. God alone knows why evil exists and what purpose it might serve. What I have given is, at best, only a part of the explanation. But it does help me to understand it at least a little bit better.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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