God's good is better than evil's bad

The guy on Facebook was mad, really mad, which is no real surprise when it comes to social media sites and the flow of emotions that often get posted. He was angry about the shooting deaths of 20 children in Newtown, CT, this past Friday December 14, and his anger was directed squarely at God. A self-proclaimed atheist, this man unleashed a profanity-laced barrage of vitriol, questioning how Christians could worship a God who allowed these things to happen. Anyone who believes in God is a pathetic joke, he said, and this so-called "god" was a sham.

This kind of emotion and rhetoric are not uncommon when unfathomable tragedy strikes. Where is God when all of this happens? Does He care?

Yes, God does care. And there are no really good answers to the question "Why?" following such a horrific tragedy such as what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but there are some truths that can be gleaned from it.

If anyone doubted that evil exists then they now have the evidence they've been looking for. However, what happened in Newtown, CT, is not the first example of wickedness to which mankind has been subjected. We know of many evil acts occurring in our history. Consider the ancient Roman emperors, who used to throw helpless men, women, and children to ravenous lions and other beasts as thousands craned their necks to watch the blood bath. More recently we have the likes of Adolf Hitler and his partial extermination of the Jewish race. We could add to this list the killing fields of Cambodia and the atrocities of Darfur, genocide in Rwanda in the 1990's, the horrific events of 9-11, and the most recent instance of a man pushing another into the path of a New York City subway train while others watched and took the time to snap pictures of him prior to his death. 

Yes, evil does exist, but in contrast to evil good exists as well. We see it around us all the time although it's hardly sensational enough to make the news blotter. Nobody wants to hear how many drivers made it home safely from work or how many schools experienced uneventful days in their hallways. Because it is the Christmas season there will be an occasional news report about good deeds done for others, yet these same kinds of generous acts are committed daily throughout the year with hardly anyone to celebrate them. Good does exist and it stands in direct opposition to the evil that we also see in the world around us. Everyone - whether they believe in God or not - is a recipient of God's common goodness to mankind:
For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45, HCSB)
So where is God in all of this? Did God create evil and, if not, why does He allow it? My aim is not to write a long theological treatise (you probably wouldn't read it anyways) but rather to point out what I believe is a gross error in the whole evil vs. good discussion that has been going on for ages.
Many are content to blame God for the bad things that happen, but why are they not willing to blame Him for all of the good as well?
Emotions often get the better of us and we want someone - we need someone - to blame for tragedies that occur. God is an obvious target. But it's curious how many will blame God for the bad while at the same time not actually acknowledging His very existence. That leaves us with but one option: We are responsible for all the good things that happen in this world while God is the divine scapegoat for all of the bad. But can we really have it both ways?

Let me be very clear here: God cares deeply about everyone. He grieves with us over tragedy and rejoices when truth is proclaimed. But what has not been mentioned enough is the fact that mankind has been making decisions for evil ever since mankind was able to make decisions. Man's first bad decision occurred in the garden of Eden and evil has been snowballing ever since. When a man climbs drunk into his car and kills an innocent family on the highway, it was his choice to drink and drive. What did the family do to deserve this? Absolutely nothing. Yet we are all subject to the evil that the actions of others can bring.

And where does this evil come from? Sin. Man is sinful and as a result his actions are sinful. None are immune to its effects nor are any innocent from sin's grasp.
The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick - who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9, HCSB)
So maybe you understand that God does not cause the evil that happens in the world, that man is free to make choices and often does so with the detriment of others in mind. But you have another question to ask: Why doesn't God do something about evil? The answer is simple: He already has.

God is not sitting by idly watching the world He created go to hell in a hand basket. From the very beginning of time He has had a rescue plan to save us from all of the evil that we have brought upon ourselves. God created us with the ability to choose - free will is what it's called - and sometimes man makes bad decisions, like eating Taco Bell late at night, while at other times man's decisions are decidedly evil. To rescue the world that He created and loves so desperately, God sent His one and only Son Jesus to earth to die for sins He never committed in order to conquer death and evil once and for all. While Jesus may be delaying in His return the Bible is inherently clear - He will return and when He does all death and dying and will cease forevermore.
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God's dwelling is with men, and He will live among them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. (Revelation 21:3-4, HCSB)
If what happened in Newtown, CT, is your definition of evil, then the cross of Jesus Christ is most certainly God's definition of what is good. And while we grieve over the loss of innocent life, most of us will never be directly affected by such tragedies. But the cross of Christ is for us all. His death is sufficient for every man, woman, and child. Salvation in Christ will not prevent further tragedies from occurring here on earth but the cross does give us hope that can be found nowhere else. So while the angry man on Facebook rages and finds no solace in his grief, I find peace in the cross of Christ, knowing that although the sting of pain and death is still mine to bear for now, it will not be so for long. For those who trust in Christ, this hope is theirs as well.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

No comments:

The honest hypocrite

The Bean There, Done That looks like any other coffee shop near a major college campus. Olive colored walls, dim ligh...