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SERMON: Why Does God Allow Evil?

If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? Why do we have war and murder, atrocity after atrocity, famine after famine? Why do innocent children die at the hands of cruel men? Why do the ravages of war tear families apart in death and imprisonment?

Why this? Why that? Why do we suffer needlessly? Why, why, why?

Most, if not all of us have asked this question when faced with pain, suffering, or tragedy.

We don't pretend to know everything there is to know about this.

..there are almost as many Psalms of laments as there are Psalms of praise and Thanksgiving

But, we do intend to at least attempt to give us some direction in our thinking about this very important issue. Perhaps this will shed light on a clearer perspective not only about the problem of evil and suffering, but more importantly, a clearer perspective of the sovereignty of God.

Why does God allow evil? There is a line of questioning that goes like this: A good God would destroy evil. An all-powerful God could destroy evil. Evil is not destroyed. Therefore, there cannot possibly be such a good and powerful God.

And on the surface, to someone not grounded in Scripture who has experienced some form of tragedy, this would seem logical. After all, if God were good and all-powerful, wouldn't it stand to reason that He would destroy the evil that plagues our world? Then why doesn't He? Could it be that He is not really a good God? God cannot do anything out of His character. The reason God cannot lie is because He is truth. He cannot sin or tempt to sin because He is pure. He also can't undo the past, create a square triangle, or make what is false, true.

God created humans in His own image, capable of having and sustaining a personal relationship with Him. But to really be in His image, they have to be capable of freely loving Him and following His will without being forced. God is capable of destroying evil - but not without destroying human freedom. Professor Norman Geisler has an interesting take on this. He says that the free choice of humans is the source of evil. He used the analogy of rust. Rust does not exist on its own - it is part of the metal. The same is true with evil. It does not exist on its own - it is part of our makeup as a result of the fall.

But why is there so MUCH evil? Why do we live in a world in which we can't even let our kids listen to the evening news because of the horrible events taking place around the world?

Here is our answer. And we want you to pay close attention, because this is going to get a bit technical and we don't want to lose anybody. Ready? We don't know. How's that?

We don't know. But while we may not be able to pin-point reasons for the why there is so much evil, that doesn't mean we can't actively fight it. So how do we respond to what we see all around us?

First, we can reflect on what we just discussed. God has His reasons for allowing what goes on. Second, we can allow ourselves to experience the emotional pain involved and express it. The book of Psalms records numerous instances where the writer is crying out to God about his suffering, and the injustices he sees. In fact, there are almost as many Psalms of laments as there are Psalms of praise and Thanksgiving. And it is interesting to note that sometimes sadness and praise are mixed into the same psalm. We are encouraged to pour out our hearts to God. And we can be sure that He hears and He understands.

A third response is to focus on one of the greatest truths in Scripture: that even in severe trials God is working. This does not mean that evil is somehow good, but that even in suffering, God is at work to bring about His good purposes in our lives. What are some of these purposes you may ask? This is a good question.

For one, suffering can provide an opportunity for God to display His glory-to make evident His mercy, faithfulness, power and love in the midst of painful circumstances.

Suffering can also allow us to give proof of the genuineness of our faith, and even serve to purify our faith. Severe trials also provide an opportunity for believers to demonstrate their love for each other as members of the Body of Christ who “bear one another's burdens” as mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:26. A fourth response could be to look at all instances of pain and suffering as some sort of cosmic conspiracy against you. This is not a healthy response. Another unhealthy response is to react with cynicism and bitterness toward God.

We've seen that God has not destroyed evil because He would have to destroy us. We have looked at some responses to evil and suffering. But there is another aspect to all this. And that response is to LOOK AHEAD. You see, even though God won't DESTROY evil, He will ultimately DEFEAT evil. Satan and his deceptions will be done away with forever, and we will no longer be at the mercy of a world gone mad, because we will be in the presence of God forever!

The problem of evil is a powerful force that exists everywhere and not one to be taken lightly. But it doesn't have to leave us in defeat and bitterness. We can take it with the understanding that our good and all-powerful God is also all-loving. He has our best interests at heart. And He sees the bigger picture. While we may not be able to see the benefits of suffering down the road, God is able to see the rainbow after the storm, shedding light on the faith we must have in the future.

God sees the BIG picture. Trust Him in the present and look forward to the future.

Adapted from a sermon by Brian La Croix as posted on www.SermonCentral.com

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