Easter is here. It’s a Hallmark holiday for most Americans, a holiday filled with bunny rabbits, Easter eggs, family meals, and a church service. In fact, my family still has an Easter egg hunt (for the adults) and there are lots of prizes – it is really fun! But for many, the Easter weekend, along with other holidays, is nothing more than a painful reminder of the suffering and tragedy in their lives. Many are plagued with debilitating diseases, others are approaching death, and still others are suffering from broken relationships. The response to this suffering is often this: “Where is God? If God loves me, why am I suffering like this?” Others take it a step further and state this if God is truly loving and powerful, than this kind of suffering would not exist. What are we to make of this? Hundreds of thousands of pages have been written on this topic, but I want to point out three simple truths.
Evil and Suffering are a Result of Sin
We all understand what it means to suffer, and even more, we all know evil through observation or active participation. And as the Bible says, this is a result of our sin and rebellion against God. When people remove God from his rightful place at the center of life, their world falls apart. All of the evil we see in the world is a result of rejecting the true God as sovereign – rejecting his will for our own or that of another. Even the physical or natural suffering that we see is ultimately a result of sin. In Genesis 3 it says that God cursed the earth after man fell into sin. Hence we see all of creation groaning under the weight of sin (Rom. 8:22). So we know that evil and suffering has a source – a man created source – and that source is sin.
God Understands Evil and Suffering
God, in the person of Jesus, came and dwelt among man. The book of Philippians says that he humbled himself, stooping down to get involved in our mess. God had no obligation to get involved; for he could have rightly judged us all for the mess we created. But because of his love, he willingly chose to cloak himself in flesh and enter our world. He experienced evil, great evil. Jesus was beaten, mocked, cursed at, betrayed, and killed. He experienced suffering. His friends died, he was tortured, and he was abandoned. We have a God who not only knows what we are dealing with, but one who can sympathize with us because he has suffered with us. When we moved away from him, he moved toward us in a real, tangible way.
God is the Answer to Evil and Suffering
To many the death of Jesus seems to be a strange event. What is even stranger for some is that people celebrate this death on Easter weekend. Really? Celebrating the torturing and death of a man? But herein lies a wonderful paradox. The answer to evil and suffering is found in the greatest evil of all time, the death of God. In this one event, Jesus took the eternal punishment that sinners deserve for their sin. Man created a mess, deserves to be punished for it, and God intervenes. By taking the punishment we deserve and restoring us to a right relationship with God, a decisive blow has been given to the problem of evil and suffering. For those who trust in Christ, a solution is in place for the mess you created and the suffering you experience. And a time is coming when that solution will consummate in the complete elimination of evil and suffering. Therefore, instead of blaming God and running from him, we must run to him, for he is the answer to the problem we created.
Here is a great video that can help you deal with the intense emotional agony you may feel over the evil and suffering in your life or the life of another. There is a powerful story told in the video.