If there is a good God, why is there evil?
If there is no God, why is there goodness in the world?
A DEEPER MYSTERY
The mystery of goodness is a deeper mystery than the mystery of evil. People without faith must answer the question: “Where does goodness come from?”
On the whole, there is more goodness in the world than evil. Our perception is that the world is all bad, all the time, all over the place (at least if you watch the news highlights). The fact that there is more goodness than evil in the world leads to two conclusions:
1. If goodness exists in the world then it must be intentional.
2. If goodness is intentional and comes from the mind of intelligence, then goodness, not evil, is normal and natural. Goodness is the natural state, not evil.
A PRACTICAL FRAMEWORK
There are three things you should never do when giving answers to those who have questions about evil and suffering:
1. Never give answers to questioners who are not serious. Some people don’t want to know the truth. They just want to engage in argument or debate (Matthew 7:6). Don’t waste your time. God will deal with them.
2. Never give answers to questions that are beyond your knowledge. It takes humility to say “I don’t know.”
3. Never give answers to questions without love.
Three things you should always do when giving answers to those who have questions about evil and suffering are:
1. Always give answers to questions with a balance of heart and head. With your heart, express love. Using your head, speak the truth in love.
2. Always give answers to questions that are truthful, even if painful.
3. Always give answers to questions that point them to the Gospel. Don’t point them to the book of Job which says more about God than it does about Job or the meaning of suffering. Point them to the Gospel so they understand that Jesus suffered, died, rose again and will make all things new.
In the immediacy of their suffering, all sufferers want a:
• Silent partner. Never underestimate the power of silence (Job 2:13). Os Guinness said, “Silence is eloquent sympathy.”
• Listening ear. Be slow to speak and quick to hear. (James 1:19)
• Reassuring touch. Be careful — it needs to be appropriate and invited. As Tennessee Williams once said, “Devils can be driven out of the heart by a hand on a hand.”
God doesn’t need Satan but Satan needs God. The mystery of evil is unfathomable but the mystery of goodness is deeper still.
(Material is Copyright © 2009 by Derrick G. Jeter. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.)