Another Look at God In Light of the Evil in the World (Postscript)

The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Self Portrait by Joni Eareckson Tada

This is a postscript in a series of blog posts that, frankly, could go on. It follows what was to be the conclusion of a series on the problem of evil – Another Look at God in Light of the Evil in the World (Part 4). Why does evil occur and God doesn’t prevent it? If God is God, and He is all-powerful and all-loving, why does He allow evil, pain and suffering?

I do need to bring this to a conclusion, but I have some final thoughts. I also have some experiences to relate: not mine, but of someone who knows pain and suffering better than I.

We have to admit that, if God is God, and if He cares, and assuming He could prevent the pain and suffering in the world, why doesn’t He?! What gives?

Continue reading “Another Look at God In Light of the Evil in the World (Postscript)”

Another Look at God In Light of the Evil in the World (Part 4)

God is intimately acquainted with the pain and suffering we experience. The God of the cross who knows and understands our suffering can be trusted.


I have tackled the problem of evil – why is there pain and suffering in the world if God is good and all-powerful? – in a series blog posts, beginning with an introduction, followed by Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. The impetus for the blog posts comes from the explore God discussion that was happening at over 800 churches in the Chicago area over the winter of 2019. The series of blog posts was more specifically inspired by the discussion of The Problem of Evil and Suffering on Veracity Hill between Kurt Jaros, the host, and John Peckham from Andrews University

The problem is easy enough to state, but it’s difficult to resolve, if, indeed, there is a resolution. Although not every religion maintains that God is personal, volitional, all-powerful and all-good, the problem of evil. Not every world religion faces the problem head on. Buddhism, for instance, posits that evil doesn’t really exist; it’s an illusion.

I have been exploring a Christian response to the problem, but it’s all pretty academic unless and until we are overwhelmed by evil, pain and suffering in our own lives. At the point of real evil, pain and suffering, an academic response doesn’t seem to satisfy.

Just last week, in the midst of thinking through the issues and writing the blog series, a tragedy of overwhelming proportions happened right in the city where all my kids went to school. An apparently disgruntled employee on the cusp of being fired from his 15-year position at a local manufacturing plant in Aurora, IL, opened fire on employees in the plant, killing five of them and wounding six other people, including six police officers responding to the alarm that went out. The youngest victim was a 21-year old college intern who started his internship in the HR department that day.

When a person is reeling from pain and suffering that hits close to home, especially from such a senseless, intentional and indiscriminate act of violence, the academic answers ring hollow and fall flat.

Without letting go of any of the attributes of God that are revealed in the Bible, we can work through the problem intellectually and logically to a solution, as I have tried to do in the summary that is contained in the previous blog posts. In some ways this solution is like the theory of gravity for Christianity. We can understand it, but knowing the cold, “scientific” facts are no consolation after falling off a cliff.

What remains, after we have worked through an intellectual solution to the problem, is the emotional, existential weight of the problem of evil. This is where we live. The weight of the problem of evil is hard to shake, quite frankly, when the pain and suffering becomes personal. When we come face to face with evil, pain and suffering in the world in our personal lives, an intellectual response isn’t enough.

This is exactly when people turn to religion and to God for comfort and answers…, or turn away. If all that Christianity has to offer is an academic response, what is the use?

Continue reading “Another Look at God In Light of the Evil in the World (Part 4)”

Sinners and the Struggle against Sin – Taking Insult away from Injury

When we are told that we have not yet resisted in our struggle against sin to the point of shedding blood, the writer of Hebrews may be getting at something much closer to our own experiences than we might think.


In Hebrews 12:3-4, the writer says, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

When I read these words this morning, I saw for the first time the connection between these phrases: “endured from sinners such hostility” and “your struggle against sin”. There seems to be a link between enduring hostility from sinners and struggling against (resisting) sin.

When I think of sin, I think of my own sin that is within me. I don’t think of struggling to endure hostility from sinners as struggling against sin, but that seems to be what this passage is suggesting. The last phrase sheds some light on this connection: “You have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

I have been thinking about the strong encouragement to resist sin in these verses for many days now. I have been thinking of the metaphorical point of resisting sin to the point of shedding blood. But I had not seen the more direct connection between the hostility of sinners and my own struggle to resist sin.

Continue reading “Sinners and the Struggle against Sin – Taking Insult away from Injury”

Suffering, Hope Deferred and Desire Fulfilled

For most of us, we fight disappointment throughout our lives. Our dreams never seem to come to fruition. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick….”

depositphotos Image ID: 27797997 Copyright: xura

“[U]unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies[1], it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses[2] it, and whoever hates[3] his life[4] in this world will keep it for eternal life[5]. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”[6]

Things aren’t necessarily as they seem. Our lives seem vibrant, filled with import and purpose when we are children. Everything is fresh. Summer days, puffy white clouds and blue skies seem to last forever. The older we get, the faster the days seem to go, the less the sun seems to shine. The more fleeting becomes the clouds and the blue skis. The polish of our lives, which seemed so fresh once, begins to dull.

For most of us, we fight disappointment throughout our lives. Our dreams never seem to come to fruition. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick….”[7]

We learn to carry on. We have nowhere to go but forward. Those of us who don’t spend our time thinking of what could have been, might have been, make an awkward peace with the past. We try to make the most of the present and adjust hope for our future.

We learn to dream less. We learn to rein our hopes in, tethering them closer to the ground. Disappointment lowers our expectations. We cling to what we can hold onto, and we risk, thereby, losing it all.

Continue reading “Suffering, Hope Deferred and Desire Fulfilled”

Christmas Thoughts: Reflection on Difficulty

This time of year can should be celebratory, but often a different reality underlies the festivity.

 (c) Can Stock Photo / ankihoglund
(c) Can Stock Photo / ankihoglund

This time of year is a joyful, festive time filled with family, days off from work, presents given and received and celebration. At least, that is how we look forward to this time of year. I believe it is for most of us, for the most part, a joyful time of year. But, life is not always so consistent with our expectations and experiences.

I checked Facebook this morning when I awoke. A high school classmate reports that his wife and mother of his daughters went to “be with the angels” last night. A friend I met in college said goodbye to his mother yesterday. An acquaintance I know through wrestling described a colleague, only a few months over 50, passed away yesterday after a two-week bout of pneumonia. A high school friend asked for prayers for his daughter, going on two weeks in the hospital.

I am reading what I wrote two years ago, as I get ready to reblog this article. I just got done reading a post by a friend and colleague: one of his best friends committed suicide this morning.

This time of year can should be celebratory, but often a different reality underlies the festivity. Continue reading “Christmas Thoughts: Reflection on Difficulty”

Judgment, Fear and Wisdom

Lightning on Land Over Ocean - Copy


“Judgment” is a dirty word by modern standards. Though we make judgments about many things every day, the modern ethic of tolerance demands that we shy away from judgment. For that reason, people have a hard time with the Old Testament. Continue reading “Judgment, Fear and Wisdom”

In Times of Trouble

lightstock_62496_xsmall_user_7997290We have all been there. You have done your best, but your best is not good enough. Maybe you have not done your best, and now your best is not good enough to fix the mess you are in. Maybe your impossible circumstances are totally beyond your control.

The feeling of abject desperation is the same.

In those times, the temptation may be to withdraw, curl up and bury your head. Maybe the temptation is to beat yourself up, hang your head in despair and live in condemnation. Maybe the temptation is to throw up your hands, say it doesn’t matter anyway and drown your woes in alcohol or drugs. The options may seem dismal and dark.

But, this is a critical point! The last place we often want to turn is the first place we should go – down on our knees in prayer to the God who made us and loves us.

There you will find God greeting you, not with judgment, but with open arms. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)

You may not be able to see your way out of the predicament you are in, but God stands high above your predicament. He is also with you in your circumstances, and He is bigger than your circumstances

When you are trapped in a hopeless situation, or what seems hopeless to you at the time, when you cannot see your way out of the darkness and the world is caving in all around you, cry out to God. He hears you! (Psalm 18:6) The righteous are those who cry out to God in their distress (Psalm 34:17), and God will deliver you from your troubles!

We are not righteous because we are good; we are righteous because we cry out to God!

He may (or may not) deliver you from your circumstances, but He will deliver you from your troubles. That is the promise of God, and “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.” (Numbers 23:19)

When we go to God, we go to the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth, of all that is seen and unseen. When He makes a promise, He keeps his promise.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! …. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)

Rejoice always means to rejoice in every circumstance, good and bad. God is above all of our circumstances! When we are anxious, that is exactly the time for us to go to God in prayer. When we are anxious, we should petition God. With Thanksgiving, we should make our requests known to God. We should appeal to God in all of our troubles…. and the promise of God is peace for our troubled hearts!

In this verse, we are not promised deliverance from our circumstances, but we are promised peace – peace from our troubles!

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Sometimes God allows us to come to the end of ourselves, to a place where we are powerless (or feel powerless) to help ourselves, and in that place is where God does His most significant work in us. We simply need to turn to Him.

We can choose not to turn to God. We can go it alone. That is always our choice, but in turning to God we not only have ready help, peace that passes understanding and a deliverer from our troubles, we have a Savior – One who delivers us not only from our troubles but from ourselves and the sin that leads to death. When we turn to God, we have Life and, we have life more abundantly.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10) The thief, the robber of our souls, is a condemner, an oppressor and a liar. When we feel desperate and hopeless, the thief is at your door.

Turn to God in your time of trouble; cry out to God, and then rejoice in God and His promises; pray to God – He will meet you where you are. That is His promise!