When looking at the turmoil around the world today – fighting happening everywhere, innocent people dying, children being abused – it would be easy to question the existence of God. The sad irony is that this statement is true today, it was true ten years ago, and it will be accurate no matter how far in the future you stumble across this post. The world is a frightful, violent, and sinful place. There will always be fighting in the Middle East, there will always be countries undergoing revolution, there will always be sinful people doing horrible things to other people.
So with the presence of so much evil in the world there are plenty of people who want to take this as proof that God does not exist. Because if God existed – and He is the loving God that we claim Him to be – then He certainly wouldn’t turn a blind eye to all of the horrible things that go on in our planet.
There are two approaches to this false notion. The first is the truth that God exists but God is not present everywhere. Listen carefully because this is not saying that God is not omnipresent – everywhere. I know it sounds like I just contradicted myself. What I mean is that God does not dwell in the heart of every person. Sinful people do sinful things.
If you sit in a bright and sunny room and then close the curtains to that room, the room gets dark. The existence of dark in that room is not proof that light does not exist. Everyone knows that it is just outside of the curtains and that to make the room light once again all that is needed is to open the curtains. It’s the same way with God. Evil exists because God has been shut out. God does not force Himself upon anyone and turn them into mindless creatures who can do nothing but follow His will.
So, evil exists not because God wants it to but because man wants it to and God has given man freewill to choose rather than forcing us all into loving Him and obeying all that He says.
The other side to the problem of evil is that God has done something about evil; He fixed the problem once and for all by sending His Son into the world to die for humanity’s sin. As horrific as the problem of evil looks when we glance around at the world today, that is minor compared to the real issue. The horrors that exist in this world, while certainly not meaning to trivialize them, are nothing compared to the fact that sin separates us from God. Separation from God is hell, figuratively and ultimately literally as well. The horrors of this world are just a fraction of how horrible eternal separation from God truly is.
Of course everyone wants a quick solution to the problem of sin. It would be nice if Jesus’ work on the cross had not only defeated sin but had also eradicated it. It has been 2000 years, so what’s the hold up? Clearly God does not work on our timetable and the short lifespan that we enjoy is nothing in the eyes of God. He is not slow to enact His plan. The coming of Jesus was first prophesied about way back in Genesis 3:15 in the Garden of Eden. It took thousands of years until Jesus came. The Israelites left Egypt in 1446 BC to go to a land that had been promised to their forefathers 400 years beforehand. While they temporarily possessed much of it, they never took hold of the entire inheritance and still wait 3800 years later. The Israelites were promised a descendant of King David to reign on his throne forever. It took 1000 years for Jesus to come and 2000 years after that the people of Israel are still waiting for that literal reign to occur.
The point of the brief history lesson is just a reminder that evil is already defeated; it is taken care of, eliminated, wiped away. What we see and will continue to see are the death throes of sin and evil. It’s not that God doesn’t exist or that He can’t handle the problem of evil. He already has. The problem is that we cannot see the big picture and we are here for what is ultimately a short time in what appears to be a long process to our eyes.
The unfortunate reality is that while we wait for the culmination of sin’s defeat we will continue to experience sin and evil in this world. It is not pleasant nor pretty. It is likely to get even uglier before the end. Every generation since Christ left has looked around at the evil in the world and been convinced that it was so horrid that it was evidence that Jesus was returning in their lifetime.
Whether Jesus returns tomorrow or in another thousand years is frankly anyone’s guess. Sin and evil will continue until that day when they are completely eradicated and all of humanity stands to be judged whether at the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Great White Throne of Judgment. As we wait we have two responsibilities. The first is to do our best to spread the love of God to fight back against evil. And the second is to simply pray “Come quickly Lord Jesus.”