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“If God exists and he is supposed to be all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good, why does he allow evil to exist in the world?” This is perhaps one of the popular questions most people are startled with when they think about God. For the sake of discussion, the god I am talking about is the Christian God. This is a very sensitive topic and I will try my best to attempt to answer that based on my readings, my discussions with religious people and my Philosophy of Religion course.
Much of the reason evil exists in the world has to do with God having taken the risks of giving freewill to mankind from the very start. I believe God gave Adam and Eve this freewill, otherwise, they wouldn’t have chosen to eat the forbidden fruit. That God allows His people to make moral choices – good or evil, is important in the authentic relationship He wanted and wants to establish with them. Would you call it a real relationship if God causally determined everything that you think, do or say? “Why does God want a relationship in the first place,” you might ask. A relationship springs from love. Love – the good and pure kind of love proactively seeks and maintains relationship. God is love (1 John 4:8). That is not romantic. That is the truth. So, even when the first parents (Adam and Eve) brought evil and suffering into the world, God still could not take away the freewill that he designed men and women with – even if that means freewill is being used by many to perform evil deeds. Think genocide, slavery, wars, diseases, abuse of all kinds, murder, rape – name it or just look at your own life. People steal from you; say nasty words against you and the saddest part is that the people who are closest to you are the most prone to hurting you the most. Does God know what you are going through? Yes He does (Matthew 10:29-31). God understood and He still understands the heavy burdens of being human so He provided a way for them to deal with evil the best way that they can by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for their sins (1 Peter 2:24). If you accept this truth in your life, you will be totally set free from the powers of evil after you die; instead, you will enjoy eternity with God in heaven. Accepting this truth also means that God’s grace has sealed up the gaps between the existence of Jesus in your heart and your constant struggle against sin and evil. This means that once Jesus is in your life, you will have the power to overcome both (Romans 6:18). You will not be sinless – you will just want to sin less and you are always assured of heaven (1 John 5:11-13).
There are times too that good things happen as a result of some evil inflicted to us in the past or as a result of our own evil choices (Romans 8:28). Sometime along my Christian journey, I once blew it big time (not that I didn’t sin every day) but my own mistake compelled me to seek help and go through a painful yet redemptive process of spiritual and emotional healing. That experience showed me the depth of God’s grace and strengthened my relationships with people. But just because we can’t seem to see a good reason behind the evil does not mean that there is none (Proverbs 3:5). In heaven, it will all make sense or if God does not explain it to you once you are there, you probably won’t mind because you are awestruck by its grandeur, overwhelmed by the glory of God, amazed that the time has come when God has finally wiped the tears from your eyes (Revelation 21:14). Evil and suffering, no matter how deep and long it is in your life is not the be all and end all of your story. There is hope. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)