WHY? (THE PROBLEM OF EVIL)
“Why . . . Why . . . Why . . . why . . . why . . . Why . . . Why . . . ” (Job 3:11-23)
Why. Mentioned twenty-four times in the book of Job. It stems from the age-old question: “Why do good people suffer, and evil people prosper?” It’s been the top subject of philosophers and sages throughout the ages. It’s an issue that is on the back burner when things are going well. It’s the hot topic that one wrestles with when triumph gives place to tragedy. Even believers are challenged in their beliefs when calamity and heartbreak hit home. Job, a blameless and God-fearing man, sat on an ash heap and pondered without much success the question of “Why?”
Why doesn’t God do something about the evil in the world? We know He can do anything so why doesn’t He prevent suffering? Or why doesn’t He stop it when it occurs? You look at the world and see oppression, injustice, and people starving. You look at decent human beings who suffer a loss or a setback. You see a person in their prime contract a disease and then die leaving loved ones. The list goes on and we cry out . . . “Why?
I’m going to give you the classic (and Biblical) answer to suffering and then I’m going to give you the personal answer that will bring a closer assurance to your heart. The first answer is for the mind and the second is directed toward the heart. Both are needed as one grapples for understanding.
The classic (and Biblical answer): Don’t blame God for suffering. Man chose evil in the garden and must take the blame. God doesn’t stop evil because it would violate man’s freewill to choose, whether good or evil. That is an act of love. God could violate man’s freewill choice but chooses for man to respond to His love through Christ. Therefore, good and evil have to coexist until the kingdom of God is established and evil will be no more. (2 Pet 3:9) The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
The personal answer: Like Job, God has a plan for your life. Times of suffering and sorrow must be absorbed in the sovereign will of God. You can’t see it but God is working all things together for good (Rom 8:28). Job was a good man, but his trials made him a better man (Rom 5:3-5). He eventually was blessed twice as much as before (Read Job 42). Deep suffering makes you a deep person. It also breeds compassion for those hurting around you (2 Cor 1:3-4).
Even the above classic and personal answers to the problem of evil may be of no comfort to one who is in mental anguish and is suffering acute emotional pain over a loss. That is understandable. Hindsight is always 20/20. In the crisis is the why and the cry. But later comes the sigh because you begin to see what God has worked for the good. And all along you tell yourself that though I don’t understand, “You are good, and do good . . . ” (Psa 119:68) My faith and my reason are battling it out. It’s a tough time but I’ll get through it. God loves me and only has my best interest in mind.
So, I guess a better question to ask is not “Why?” but “Who?” I can’t handle the Why, but I know the Who who can handle me. And that gives me a handle to hold onto when nothing else makes sense.