The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.
Anyone who comes face-to-face with the reality of evil and suffering in the world is forced to grapple with disturbing questions that can either strengthen or destroy his most fundamental beliefs about God. It is very difficult for us to reconcile these four truths:
1. God exists.
2. God is all-powerful.
3. God is good.
4. Evil is present in the world.
Let’s look at the most common approaches to reconciling the reality of evil and suffering with God’s existence.
First, some argue that suffering is a perception rather than a reality. For example, Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, believed that sin and sickness are only illusions. Yet the reality of suffering can be neither denied nor minimized. Life is filled with pain. Suffering is only an illusion to those who have never experienced it.
Second, many people believe there is a higher power, but it is not the God of the Bible. How could a God who claims to embody love, hate evil, and be all-powerful allow atrocities like floods, famines, child torture, and genocide? If suffering and evil are real, then the biblical God must be the illusion, they say. But if there is a universal moral standard by which we say certain things are evil, then there must be a divine being who constructed that moral standard. The fact that there is evil in the world—and that we care about it—argues strongly for the existence of a good God.
Third, some people say that God sees our pain, weeps over our distress, and comforts us in our affliction—yet He is powerless to stop our pain. “Open theism,” “process theology,” and “finite godism” are some of the theories used to strip God of His sovereignty, omniscience, and omnipotence.
Most people who challenge God’s existence because of suffering are not so much concerned with suffering in the world at large as they are with suffering in their own lives. Usually some deep hurt has caused them to question God’s existence. When people who are hurting challenge you to defend the existence of a good God, I encourage you to demonstrate genuine concern about their situation. Assure them that God—as distant or nonexistent as He may feel—is distressed over their distress.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How Can I Know God Is Good?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.