Let me introduce you to another theological/philosophical term: theodicy. Webster’s defines it as “defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil.” Atheists and nonbelievers have long tried to discredit belief in God with this logical thought process:
1. God is good.
2. God is omnipotent.
3. There is unjustified evil and suffering in the world.
According to them, one of these points has to be untrue. The attempt to answer this old argument is called theodicy.
So what's God’s ultimate solution to all the evil and unjustified suffering in the world? Let’s start out, as before, by thinking logically and biblically at the same time. Think about the sun, the ultimate source of heat for us. As we get further from the sun, what’s the natural result? Cold, which really is not a thing in itself but is really just the absence of heat. What is the immediate consequence of sin? Separation from God. Our first parents sinned and immediately experienced emotional and relational separation. If all life flows from God, then what’s the final consequence of being separated from him? Obviously death. This is why the Bible tells us that all sin leads to death. Spiritual death leads to physical death and all the other suffering we see in the world.
So our ultimate problem isn't physical suffering like cancer or natural disasters like earthquakes, and it’s not the “natural” process of aging and physical deterioration that goes along with it. Our # 1 problem is sin and its attendant separation from God. All the other problems are just symptoms, not the disease.
That’s why Jesus came. His ultimate purpose was not to deal with physical suffering or sickness. In fact, I would conjecture that many of the people he physically healed are in hell right now. He came to deal with the root of all our problems.
And he did. Other religions can come up with elaborate explanations as to why the Almighty doesn’t deal directly with evil and suffering. In stark contrast, the God of the Bible did not stand aloof from us. The Father sent his own Son into this dark, nasty, sin-infected world to be rejected, betrayed, tortured, and murdered. When someone comes forward and asks “Where was God when this terrible thing happened?” we can respond “He was on his throne, the same place he was as he watched his Son nailed to a cross.” He took all this world’s evil upon himself and bore it on his back, for you and me.
Lord Jesus, I don’t know what to say, except “Thank you” and “I belong to you.”
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