Many people today still struggle with God’s purpose for evil in the world. They act as if they are the first to notice this reality. But they are wrong! It has been around as long as the book of Job, the oldest book of the Bible. It’s a question every generation has to resolve for itself. It’s one thing to rationalize the goodness of God in theory. It’s another thing to trust God in the face of incredible injustice. Why God allows that to go on from generation to generation is a fundamental question that has haunted many and is a stumbling block to many in believing in a good God who has mankind’s best interests foremost in mind. When I watch the black and white footage from World War II and the emaciated bodies of those in concentration camps, I can’t help but look to God and ask why? Why don’t you, God, do something to stop such evil? This was Habakkuk’s question hundreds of years before Christ came. In Habakkuk 1:3, we read, “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.”

Any attempt to answer this question is called a “Theodicy.” If you look this word up on Wikipedia, you will get, “Theodicy is defined as a theological construct that attempts to vindicate God in response to the problem of evil that appears inconsistent with the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. Another definition of theodicy is the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil.”[1] Another web blogger explains the problem, “Notice what this problem suggests. It begins with the assumption that such a being as God will want to eliminate evil. If God is all good but not all-powerful or knowing, then perhaps he doesn’t have the ability to intervene on every occasion. Likewise, if God is all-powerful and knowing but not all good, then perhaps he has a mean streak. If God is somehow all these things, but the universe does not exist in a contingent relationship, then God has little to do with evil (even though God’s design can still be faulted). However, if God is both good and powerful, then why does evil exist?”[2]

There are so many ways theologians have defended God’s goodness in the face of evil that I could not begin to list them all in this short devotion. Some argue that God only wants us to love him freely. If he intervened in all the evil, that couldn’t be possible. Some suggest that God allows suffering to challenge our faith in his goodness. This might be supported by the story of Job and of Abraham, who was called to sacrifice his only son. Some argue from Romans 8:28 that God uses evil in a way that will work out all things together for good. This means evil is only a temporary problem, and we will see its elimination in God’s timing. Suffering in this life enables us to relate to Jesus’ suffering. Christ suffered for us so we’d have the perfect example of how to respond to suffering in this life, looking forward to an ideal world in the next. This helps me grapple with the problem of evil. I like how the “gotquestions” web blogger explains it. He writes, “Finally, one has to take all criticisms of evil in the entire context of Christian teaching. If this life were all there is, then the problem of evil would be a much bigger problem. However, according to the Bible, this is not the only life we are going to live. A person can reject that belief, but he cannot criticize the God of the Bible and His morality as if the afterlife were not an intrinsic part of Christian moral understanding. Christians believe that all wrongs—every single one—will be reckoned with someday. They believe God is acting to restrain evil now, just as He did in the past. The Bible makes it clear that the struggles we experience now are not the purpose for which we exist, nor do they define our value. Instead, there is a point to the suffering and a plan that involves making all wrongs right.”[3]