The age-old question that has tormented philosophers and theologians for centuries is resurfacing again . . . with new vigor. This time it’s emerging in the wake of the horrors of a mass murder of small children in Newtown, Connecticut. Regrettably, atrocities like this have been going on in our world since the Fall. And they always seem to provoke us to make sense of evil.
Last month, I wrote a post entitled There is No Proof of God’s Existence. That post has suddenly taken on new meaning and fresh application for many Christians after what took place in Newton. No philosopher or theologian has ever adequately answered the “How Can a Good God Allow . . .” question. And I will shamelessly admit that I’m a card-carrying member of that club too. However, there are two things that I’ve learned on this score that have helped me (at least).
1) In Matthew 11:6, we have the forgotten beatitude – “Blessed is the person who is not offended by me.” According to the context of this saying, John the Baptist was utterly loyal to Jesus. He walked a life of total self-denial. He gave everything up for his God. And now he finds himself in a cold prison. We have no record that the Lord ever visited him there. So John is questioning and doubting. He’s probably thinking, “Was it really worth it? I lived my whole life to pave the way for the Messiah, and now I’m in prison. The kingdom hasn’t yet come.”
John is wondering and wavering; he’s tempted to stumble at his Lord. So he sends word to Jesus asking, “Are you really the one who was to come? Or should we expect another?” Again, Jesus doesn’t visit John. He instead sends this answer to him via his disciples: “Go back and report to John what you’re seeing. The deaf hear; the blind see; the lepers are cleansed; the dead are raised; the good news is being preached to the poor . . . and happy is the person who is not offended in me. Peaceful is the man who doesn’t stumble over me. Blessed is the person who doesn’t fall away on account of what I do or not do.”
Point: Jesus did not meet John’s expectations. If you’ve not met this side of God yet, you will. He will not always meet your expectations. And when that day comes, put your seat belt on. Your faith will be tested. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” . . . “Blessed is the person who is not offended by me when I don’t meet their expectations.” This is the forgotten beatitude. And it’s a message that every Christian needs to hear at some point in their lives. In fact, many times over.
2) If I can use an illustration, we mortals are living on pages 300-400 of a 2,000 page book. Only God can see the whole book. And He’s only given us the ability to see pages 300-400. We have no capacity to understand what’s in pages 1-299 or pages 401 to 2,000. We can only speculate and assume what’s in them (hence we create all sorts of intricate theological systems to explain mysteries we don’t understand).
Here’s a lesson to learn: Life always comes down to trusting in the Lord rather than trying to figure out His ways via our finite, limited understanding. Yet together, we can better discover and understand what’s in pages 300-400, and thereby learn to live more effectively within them. I hope blog posts like this contribute to that goal.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” ~ Paul in Romans 11:33
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” ~ Jesus in John 16:33
I have more to say on this subject. So read the follow-up post: 7 Points About Resolving the Problem of God & Evil