Outrageous Joy

If God exists, why do bad things happen to good people? For centuries, people have struggled with this. Philosophers, such as David Hume and Bertrand Russell, argued that the world is full of evil and suffering. Thus, if God is all good and all powerful, He can and should destroy evil. However, they point out, evil is not destroyed, and sufferings still continue. They say it appears that God is not able or willing to rid the world of evil; therefore, God is neither all powerful nor all good. Therefore, God, as He is understood by the Christian faith, must not exist.

In the modern era, Jewish Rabbi Kushner is a God fearing individual who believes in the existence of God. However, the sufferings of his people during the holocaust have led him to re-think his view of the nature of God in the light of the presence of evil.

Kushner concluded that suffering exists because even God has difficulty keeping evil in check. He said, “I believe in God. But I do not believe the same things about Him that I did years ago, when I was growing up or when I was a theological student. I recognize His limitation. He is limited in what He can do by laws of nature and by the evolution of human nature and human moral freedom.”

We all acknowledge the existence of evil and suffering but no weight is given to the existence of good. I believe God created mankind with the freedom to choose, and preventing someone from doing something is not true freedom. Thus, God has to allow the possibility, for mankind to misuse that freedom even at the cost of hurting others. In response, someone could argue then what good is freedom if men like Hitler or Stalin can take away and destroy the freedom of millions? Is all the pain and suffering worth the freedom?

I believe there is a possibility for men to destroy the freedom of millions, because there is also the possibility for men to liberate and love millions. Dr. Gregory A. Boyd in Letters from a Skeptic said, “If I have the freedom to love one person only, I have the freedom to hurt one person only. If I have the freedom to love them a little, I have the freedom to hurt them a little. If I can love them a great deal, I can hurt them a great deal. The fact that we humans have such an incredible amount of potential for evil, then, is to my mind indication of the fact that we can have an incredible amount of potential for good.”

Just as Hitler and Stalin have destroyed millions of innocent people, William Wilberforce and Mother Teresa have liberated millions of innocent people from evil and suffering. Why did God create the world with such incredible amount of potential for evil and good? Is it worth the pain and suffering? My answer is yes, because love is worth dying for.

Eric Chu said, “I was in a cold war with my wife the last few days.” We all know that love can hurt. In loving our parents, our wives, our friends, we often get hurt. We all have stories of getting hurt but we still want love. A father who lost two of his sons to Vietnam War asked a pastor, “Where was God when my sons were killed?” The pastor gently replied, “On His throne, the same place when His son died on the cross.”

God has done something about the evil by letting His Son die on the cross for the sins of the world. The world that has an incredible potential for evil and good, but God chose to demonstrate the highest form of love by dying for the sins of the world to give us eternal life (Romans. 5:8).

David Hume and Bertrand Russell concluded that God did not exist because He was powerless to get rid of evil. Geisler, in When Skeptics Ask, said, “If God is all-good, He will defeat evil. If God is all-powerful, He can defeat evil. Evil is not yet defeated. Therefore, God can and will one day defeat evil.” In the present time, God is being patient with all mankind so they may come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). In the future, Christ will come and strip away all wickedness and hold all people accountable for what they have done on earth (Revelation 20:11-15).

On the other hand, when tragedy strikes we want to know why? Why would a loving God who died for me allow pain? Kushner, struggling with the premature death of his son, concluded that God wants the righteous to be happy, but sometime He cannot bring it about.

When tragedy strikes, God is not concerned about making sense of everything to us, because we don’t have the capacity to see our suffering in the light of eternality. Pastor Eric said, “If you try to teach calculus to your children, they will have no ideas what you are trying to teach.” However, God is very concerned about bringing healing to your soul.

Dr. Boyd said, “Unconditional love is the only life source for the soul and only medicine for its wound.” During his college years, Dr. Boyd struggled with two opposing convictions. When he looked at the grandeur of the stars he would say to himself, “There must be a God.” But, when he thought about the nightmarish suffering of Auschwitz, he found himself saying, “There can’t be a God.” Finally, he cried out in an angry voice, “The only God I can believe in is one who knows firsthand what it’s like to be a Jewish child buried alive, and know what it’s like to be a Jewish mother watching her child be buried.”

Just then, it occurred to him that is the kind of God the Christianity proclaims and said, “Only the gospel dares to proclaim that God was born a baby in a bloody, crap-filled stable, that He lived a life befriending the prostitutes and lepers no one would befriend, and that He suffered, firsthand, the hellish depth of all that is nightmarish in human existence. Only the gospel portrait of God makes sense of the contradictory fact that the world is at once so beautiful and so ugly.”

When tragedy doesn’t make sense remember God suffered in your pain. He participated in our pain so that He can redeem it to bring about healing. If there is no eternal glory (everlasting life), then all the pain and suffering will be a meaningless tragedy. However, Paul tells us that all of our troubles are achieving for us eternal glory that will outweigh all of our pain and suffering (2 Corinthians 4:17).

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let Him win your heart and you will find outrageous joy in the midst of trials.

P. Tae

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