We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded solely by your direct support. Please consider supporting this project.

Enduring-evil-1

Enduring an Evil-Infested World (6 Principles) —part one

We live in the midst of a spiritual battlefield where we face evil daily. Yet we are also in the midst of an ambiguity that hinders us from knowing why any given evil occurs as it does. Can we find solace, hope, and courage in the midst of this war, especially when we face meaningless evil? I want to offer six principles, the first three in this post followed by three more in the next.

Principle #1: Fix Your Eyes of Jesus

The book of Hebrews addresses Christians who were facing persecution for their faith. They knew that they would have to suffer for their allegiance to Christ. The author of Hebrews encourages them to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:1-2).

We won’t have the fortitude to complete this often grueling journey without a focus on Christ. The love Jesus expressed on the cross motivates us and inspires us. The truth of what God is like, as revealed on the cross, reassures us that no matter what we face, God’s love for us is unwavering and unsurpassable.

When people are facing evil they often draw conclusions about the nature of God. This is a mistake. Allowing events to shape our picture of God causes us to mistrust and even resent God. When our eyes are fixed on Jesus, however, we can see that the arbitrary vicissitudes of life reflect the war-torn nature of the cosmos, and we can trust in God’s love for us in the midst of the struggle.

Principle #2: Remember that God is with You

When people go through radical suffering, they often feel alone. The situation that they face drives them into isolation. When we are in the midst of suffering remember that God is with us and is on our side. The NT teaches that our suffering is a participation in Christ’s suffering. We suffer with him (Rom 8:17; Col 1:24). God is with us sharing in our experience, suffering as we are suffering.

This can bring a peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). This peace is not based on circumstances of life—which is why it “surpasses all understanding.” It is the perfect peace of the eternal Trinity, who is never caught off guard, never anxious, and never overwhelmed.

Principles #3: Yield to His Redemptive Power

Paul teaches: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). In all things, whatever or whoever caused them, “God works for the good.” Wherever we find ourselves, and however we got there, we can know that God is already at work to bring good out of it. Those who place their trust in God are called to work with him to bring redemptive meaning out of every event, however tragic or evil it may be. Though our suffering may be the result of a multitude of free decisions of human or demonic agents, the suffering need not be meaningless. In his infinite wisdom God has been anticipating and preparing for this very possibility from the foundation of the world.

With tender creativity we can begin to imagine God bringing redemptive value out of the most tragic and meaningless events. In the midst of all things, God is working with us for our good.

Stay tuned for part two.

Adaptive from Is God to Blame? Pages 152-157

Related Reading

Why Can’t God Stop Evil? The Thomas J. Oord Interview (podcast)

Greg and Thomas talk about Open Theism and how Greg’s views differ from Thomas’s. Theology nerds, get your compass and your flashlight and prepare to go DEEEEEP in the weeds!  Thomas’s book: God Can’t Episode 487 http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0487.mp3

Podcast: Does God Actively Discipline Those He Loves?

Greg on God’s role in suffering.  http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0272.mp3

What’s Wrong With The World?

 Hartwig HKD via Compfight The reports coming out of Fort Hood this morning once again highlight that our world is messed up. And it often feels like we are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as we try to find answers to address the problems we face. Here are some reflections by Greg on…

4 Reasons to Wake Up to the Warfare Worldview

Image by postbear via Flickr A view of the world that grounds the problem of evil in spiritual warfare is not one that many modern people find easy to accept. To many contemporaries, the notion is preposterous that real, semi-autonomous, self-determining, and invisible spirits exist that can and do influence our lives. The whole thing sounds…

Podcast: Is It God Withdrawing OR Is It a Scheme of Satan?

Sometimes evil is attributed to God withdrawing. Sometimes it is attributed to a scheme of Satan. We are called to respond to each differently. So, must we be able to discern which is the case in any given situation? http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0189.mp3

Free Will: What about “natural” evil? Was Hurricane Sandy a Free Agent?

What about natural evil? How does free will help to make sense of this? Greg reflects on the origins of sickness, natural disaster, animal suffering and so on. Hope you’re enjoying the series so far. There’s more to come!