God Running is a place for anyone who wants to love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
God, Evil, and Suffering
It’s Father’s Day weekend and I have our Father on my mind right now. Because a young family member–a family member who happens to be one of my favorite family members–was visiting with us a few days ago, and he asked the question:
If God is all good and all powerful, then why is there evil and suffering in the world?
I really appreciated his question.
This question or idea originally came from the Greek philosopher Epicurus. Epicurus is the father of the epicurean philosophy which emphasizes knowing the world through our senses.
So the idea is that either God is not all powerful and cannot stop the evil and suffering, or God is not all good and chooses not to stop evil and suffering.
Therefore, this favorite family member of mine said, it makes no sense that an all good and all powerful God would allow evil and suffering in our lives.
And, I agreed with him.
His statement makes perfect sense, with one condition. That statement makes perfect sense as long as there’s no eternity awaiting us on the other side of death.
Which of course led to a discussion about rabies and bats.
The Rabid Bat that Bit the Baby
In the United States the animal most likely to infect you with rabies is a bat. The first signs and symptoms can be similar to the flu and this phase may last several days. But later symptoms might include a fear of water, agitation, anxiety, hyperactivity, hallucinations, and excessive salivation.
If the infection takes hold, death is all but certain.
The reason we wound up talking about rabies is because, if life after death in eternity is a reality, then relative to our endless existence in the afterlife, this life here on earth is like the few minutes of pain we experience when we’re vaccinated against some disease. Some disease like rabies.
So say, a three year old was bitten by a rabid bat. And this three year old had to receive a series of rabies shots to prevent the infection from taking hold.
The three year old can’t understand why her parents would allow the man with the needle to inflict such pain and suffering upon her. But the doctor knows, and the mother knows, and the father knows that without those painful injections, she’s going to go mad, and then die.
Four or five injections over a two week period is a lot of misery for a three year old. That’s two whole weeks of pain, and at three years old she hasn’t even been alive for very many weeks yet. Our toddler might feel confused and even betrayed by it all.
Two weeks out of the three year old’s life is about 1.3 % of her lifetime. By comparison, this life here on earth is proportionally infinitesimally smaller, relative to an immeasurable eternity.
Another part of the answer to this question has to do with free will. I’ve written before about how until I intentionally studied Jesus, I never realized how serious God is about preserving our free will. And I feel like that’s a wonderful thing, when it comes to my own free will. But what about the free will of others? If we all have free will, inevitably, it won’t be long before someone else’s free will is going to impact my life, for good — or for evil.
But I can’t imagine a universe without it. Without free will the world would be like living inside a Chuck E Cheese’s populated with automatons. I would rather live in a world with my own free will intact, even if there’s a risk of suffering at the hands of the free will of others.
Other Forms of Suffering
Of course the free will of others doesn’t account for all suffering. What about disease and natural disasters? For me what it comes down to is God’s greatest miracle. Some might say His greatest miracle was the resurrection of Christ. And maybe that’s true. But in the context of this discussion, I think God’s greatest miracle is the creation of the universe and all that’s in it. The most distant observable objects in the universe are 47 light years away. That means the diameter of the observable universe is 94 light years. And how many miles is a light year? When I looked that up I found this equation: 1 light year = 5.879e+12 miles.
I don’t even know what that means.
I think it’s more than 5 trillion miles.
God’s Capability and Goodness
So if that’s who God is, how does that compare to me? The biggest, most sophisticated complex thing I ever built was a house.
So, yeah — God edged me out on that one.
And here’s the thing about that house. God created the man, me, and Kathy and all the other talented people who helped us with that building project. So God created a group of unbelievably complex sophisticated organisms in such a way that we were able to build the house.
And what we would expect from a God with that kind of capability is that we wouldn’t understand everything He does.
The good news though, is He gave us Jesus to provide us with insight into the personality of God the Father.
And one look at Jesus tells me:
God is good.
And God our Father in heaven knows best.
Even when I don’t understand.
Speaking of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews wrote:
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.Hebrews 1:3
Information about Epicurus via Wikipedia
Information about rabies: Mayoclinic.org
Image of bat via rawpixel.com — Public Domain
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Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.