If God is love, why is there evil and suffering?

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If God is love, why is there evil and suffering?

Fr. Jean-Paul Sagadou/ la-croix.com

The Bible opens with a song of jubilation, a hymn to the creation that is born from God's hand and Word: "And God saw that it was good."

This astonishing and luminous affirmation punctuates the first seven days of the story of Genesis. At the same time, it leaves us with questions.

If creation is good, then why is there evil in our world? Why does God allow suffering, disease, pandemics like COVID-19 and the death of the innocent?

In the Bible, the prophet Isaiah foresees the trial of evil. "Then down to earth: there will be only anguish, gloom, the confusion of night, swirling darkness" (Is 8: 22-23).

At the heart of this trial of evil lies the question: "Where is your God?" (Psalm 42: 4).

Evil truly hurts. It hurts our intelligence as we try to understand. We do not understand.

Evil hurts our faith. Sometimes we end up doubting God.

Based on the theory of evolution, scientists say nature is gradually evolving. And if there is so much evil, it is because the world is not yet complete.

For them the world is imperfect and nature is like a craftsman that, by trial and error, is gradually creating a masterpiece.
Living by struggle and hope

Christian theologians, on the other hand, see the question of evil in relation to human freedom.

They say 'God is love' necessarily implies that God respects our freedom. Because if God did not, it would not be love, but rape.

They also say that God is the first to suffer from evil and that if we, who are so self-centered, can be saddened by the suffering of another, what pain it must cause to the Father's loving heart!

They say it is absolutely false to imagine that God is indifferent or, worse, a cruel spectator of all the evil committed on earth.

Throughout history philosophers and theologians have offered many other explanations about evil, but we are always brought back to the same conclusion:

The presence of evil in the world is a mystery that we do not fully understand. No religion provides a fully satisfactory answer.

That said, Christians do not live in resignation and despair, but in struggle and hope.

While they struggle to make sense of the existence of evil in the world, they do not cease to combat it. Because it is more important to try to expel evil than to explain it.

Faith brings Christians a hope that is at the heart of their struggle against evil and suffering.

The biblical story of Job is well known. Encouraged by his friends to curse God, Job resists and is astonished at God's greatness in a creation that surpasses him.
God has broken evil

One day, in the presence of a man who was born blind, the disciples asked Jesus: "Who sinned, this man or his parents?"

"Neither he nor his parents sinned," Jesus answered, "he was born blind that the works of God might be revealed in him" (Jn 9:1-3).

These words are beyond us, but they dissociate evil from the idea of punishment, while also designating, in Jesus, the place of God's response.

Jesus, in fact, will face total darkness on a cross, thus revealing God's presence with all people and all those confronted with the nonsense of history and with radical, absurd evil.

In Jesus' victory over death, Christians see that something else has begun, and when they, in their struggle against evil, are tempted to give up, they remember that on Easter morning a tomb was found empty.

Whatever has to be said about the origin and nature of evil, however serious its meaning for us, one thing is certain: in Jesus Christ, God destroyed evil and its empire.

So Christians must continue the struggle of the Gospel by following Jesus, who healed the sick and forgave sins.

The life of Jesus motivates Christians, nourishes their hope and gives meaning to their lives, even as they must continually confront the absurdity of evil.

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 23:14
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