Responding to Skeptics and Seekers
This post and the few that may follow is an experiment. Since November of 2011 I have been answering questions and comments submitted to the website All About God. Thus far I have interacted, occasionally multiple times, with over 50 skeptics, seekers, and sometimes the genuinely confused and hurting. On several occasions I believe what I wrote was potentially worth sharing with a wider audience.
Some editorial commentary would be helpful at this point. The comments and questions submitted at All About God are forwarded to me with whatever name and country of origin that people choose to provide. I will not reproduce names and will only mention the country if it is relevant to the text of the comment or question. This leads to a second editorial point. The comments and questions as they appear in this series will be paraphrased or combinations that address a similar subject.
Being on the receiving end of these e-mails has been a humbling and growing experience. I have endeavored to be a loving and passionate ambassador for Christ. I have attempted to be as respectful as possible, writing as if I was speaking directly to the person. I have also not shied away from making a strong argument when it seemed important. In taking this risk to publish material that has only been seen by a few people, I hope some of this may be helpful. I hope these will be positive examples of addressing objections to the Christian faith. If the opposite is ever true I hope to learn from whatever readers offer in response.
November 2011 from India
If God exists why do good people suffer. Why are there so many people who are poor, miserable, cheated, unloved, and helpless? Why are there so many who are happy, wealthy and experience a good life?
As I read the stress, pain and even anger in your question, I hesitated to respond. There are no words that I can offer that will ease your pain or address the injustice you see. What I can offer are some thoughts that I hope will help you think more clearly about God in the midst of the evil around you.
It is said that if God exists, the presence of evil shows that God is unable to prevent it (therefore He is not powerful) or He chooses to allow it (therefore He is not good). However there is another alternative.
According to Genesis 3, sin and rebellion entered the world through the choice of Adam and Eve. They chose to rebel against God and all of humanity as their descendants, share in and suffer from their original rebellion. God gave humanity free will and with that freedom there was the risk of Adam and Even rejecting God. It is possible that just as God had reasons for wanting to create people with free will, He also has reasons and purposes for allowing evil.
We are told in Genesis 1:26-27, that man was created in God’s image. We also see in Romans (1:18-23; 2:14-15) that God’s law is written on the hearts of all men, even when they try to suppress it. Your very reaction to the evil around you shows that there is a definition or source of good. If God did not exist, how would we know what good is?
Finally, we must realize that evil is not just found in our circumstances, in the acts of people, but is found in our own hearts. Even with Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior, I struggle daily with evil in my own heart. I can easily echo the lament of the apostle Paul in Romans 7, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” So I must ask you, what evil should God eliminate from the world? In God’s eyes all sin, all evil is the same; it is falling short of his perfect righteousness.
Rather than eliminate all evil, God has chosen to offer redemption and restoration to those who accept His offer of forgiveness. Accepting that offer, as I have, does not rescue you from the suffering of this world, but it does a promise an eternity with God and without sin.
May God bless you in your search for answers.