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WHY IS THERE EVIL?

There are basically two kinds of evil in the world: Natural evil, such as tornadoes, floods,
earthquakes, etc., and moral evil, caused by the actions and behavior of people,
individual or En masse, or because of a passive response to the actions of people in the
world.
We assume that there is an explanation for the existence of evil in the world, that there is
a purpose and reason for evil and suffering in the world. There are several reasons why
this thinking is faulty.
1. We assume that it’s all about us. The world is subject
to my whims and desires, and I deserve to have things the
way I want. If I am going through a difficult situation, God
should remove it from me.
The truth is, of course, that this is our Father’s world. Note
God’s explanation to Job:
Job 38:4–7 (NIV)
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell

me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions?
Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels

shouted for joy?
Couple this with Paul’s comments in Romans:
Romans 8:18–21 (NIV)
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that

will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children
of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own
choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself
will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of
the children of God.
It is creation that is God’s focus, and all of creation is waiting for God’s children to rejoin
God’s plan for his kingdom; for now, it groans in its bondage.
The philosopher Leibniz says that when God chose to create the world, He chose the
world which is the simplest in its laws and the richest in its phenomena.
The world is good because it is God’ creation, not good ‘in itself’.
Why does evil exist, and why doesn’t God do something about it? The explanation is that
God is a whole lot smarter and wiser than us. He works in ways that go beyond any
explanation that assumes that God acts like other rational beings.
Compare this to what Isaiah says:
Isaiah 55:8–9 (NIV)
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares

the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than
your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
In the end, this is our father’s world. It is under his rule and control, and he is intimately
involved in our lives. However, But it is not a perfect world, and evil is real.
2. The Nature of Evil. It is this truth --that there is evil and suffering the world, and we
cannot fathom this truth or want a better explanation --that led Qohelet, the writer of
Ecclesiastes, to make this observation:
Ecclesiastes 9:11 (NIV)
11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle

to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the
learned; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man also does not know his
time:
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
When it falls suddenly upon them.
Qohelet acknowledges the randomness of human existence. Therefore, one does not get
what one deserves and outcomes happen unexpectedly and suddenly.
This set of superior virtues is not always enough to cope with the world. Timing may
upset the best of plans and the keenest of abilities. Chance is the unavoidable and
unforeseen circumstance.
This doesn’t mean that the world is outside God’s control, it means that we are finite
beings trying to understand the infinite wisdom and counsel of God.
But, I think Qohelet is focusing on the external nature of events, what is going on around
people. The truth is that we don’t have a clue what is going to happen next, and our
attention focuses on the immediate impact of events.
We want God to order our universe and make things work for our good, for our purposes.
Basically, we think that God should change the circumstances we are in because our
focus is on us and our lives.
But if we begin to see that the focus is on the Kingdom of God, and God’s plans for it, we
can see that we are often minor players in it all.
Why should God change a situation that favors us, when it might be to the detriment of
many others?
But does God simply leave us alone, on our own, hoping that we can cope with problems
and evil?
No, of course not. God has given us all the ability to weather the internal storms of life:
Hear what James says:
James 1:2–4 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many

kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let
perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking
anything.
God’s goal in testing and trials is to prepare us for those times when we face tests, which
are as sure to enter our lives as sparks fly up from a fire (Job 5:7).
So, whether or not we live in the best of all possible worlds, we do live in a world where
evil is real and invasive.
My wife, Dona, has often shared this quote:
“Sometimes God calms the storms around us, and sometimes he calms the storms
inside us.”
When we look at the Calming of the Storm story, what is Jesus’ answer to the storm
raging around the disciples?
Matthew 8:23-27
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked
the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
He wasn’t as concerned about the external events of the storm, rather the internal ability
to face the storm.
So, we don’t understand why there is evil. However, the way the world works, between
sin and time and circumstance, evil is real. Even if we knew the answer to the question of
why evil exists, would we still will not find comfort or peace when we experience evil?
Probably not.
3. The focus of God is on preparing us for those times when we face these situations,
when we experience evil, trials and testings.
Jill Briscoe shares a story of a conversation with a believer in SE Asia, who told Jill about
the hardships that they as Christians endure for their faith.
Jill commented on the woman’s faith, saying that she did not know if she would hold up
under such persecution and trouble. Jill asked the woman how she faced such trouble?
The woman said to Jill that there is a big difference between the West and the East
concerning trials and troubles:
In the west, you pray: “Lord, remove this burden.”
In the east, we pray: “Lord, strengthen our backs that we may carry this burden.”
I think this should be our focus.
Evil doesn’t occur just to test us with a trial or temptation, that is not God’s goal. His
goal and ours goal should be to prepare us for whatever life throws at us, and to depend
on the power and love of God to not only prepare us, but to see us through the storms.
How do we cope with evil in the world? Not by trying to understand why it exists, but by
preparing for the reality of evil when it appears in our lives, and in the world.