We seem to only reference the good things when speaking about things in the world that are “proof” of God’s existence. We see a beautiful sunset, the phenomenal natural processes around us, the stunning complexity of life on earth, and we say, “How can you believe there is no God?” Personally, I see all of those things, and I think that God must exist. I have also felt the awe that inevitably comes when we’re looking at these things. But I have also had Stephen Fry’s question when I look at all of the evil in the world, the natural things that exist that destroy life or make it miserable. Natural disasters, disease, parasites, the evil that humans bring into the world. And I have to wonder how a God who is good, and loving, and kind could allow such hurt and anguish to exist.
I think that I’m beginning to see answers, but they are not clear to me. I know that what is called the Problem of Evil has an argument, that it’s something discussed in depth by people on both sides of apologetic arguments. I know that logically, God and evil are not incompatible, that both can exist and God can allow evil to exist, and even use evil for his own purposes. I know that in our short lifetimes, we usually don’t see the outcomes of events that seem so awful to us. We are working within a limited framework, in the words of Dr. James Craig, and we see certain evils that seem pointless within our framework but that can be justified when viewed within God’s much wider (eternal) framework. Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things for the good of those who love him. What it doesn’t say is that we will definitely see that good come to pass during our time on earth. Chaos theory, also called the butterfly effect, gets its common name from the illustration of a butterfly flitting around on a tree-branch, and causes a hurricane somewhere across the world simply by existing and flapping its wings. But the person watching that butterfly could never predict the hurricane, because their frame of reference is too small (Dr. James Craig).
This makes sense to me. But it is difficult to accept when I see or hear about things like the current crisis (WARNING: graphic content) in the Middle East where Christian children are being beheaded by radical Islamists (ISIS), or when I read about diseases such as ALS and cancer and HIV and AIDS, or when I hear stories from people about traumatic childhood events, such as abuse and rape.
I have faith that God is good. And I have faith that he will use all of these things for good in his time. I know that having faith in God doesn’t mean never questioning. But looking at these things in and of themselves truly breaks my heart. And I can’t help but wonder what the ultimate good will be.