Evil’s reality, quantity, and extremes have long perplexed Christians. Why does God permit evil? And why so much? And why in its most hideous forms? Why, God’s people have wondered, would a sovereign and loving God not immediately rid the universe of evil? People and prophets alike ask, “How long, O LORD?” (as in Psalm 6:3; 13:1).
Remarkably, not just God’s saints on Earth, but martyrs in Heaven—morally perfect but still finite—cry out, “How long, Sovereign Lord?” (Revelation 6:10). The books of Job and Ecclesiastes both raise the problem of evil and the apparent randomness of life.
The problem of evil lies at the very heart of the biblical account and serves as the crux of the unfolding drama of redemption.
Barely have the first two chapters of the Bible described the original creation before a terrible shadow falls—evil and suffering burst into the world. Adam and Eve’s fall, Cain’s murder of Abel, Noah’s flood, the tower of Babel, the patriarchs’ sins, Job’s tragedies, Egypt’s oppression of Israel, David’s psalms of lament, Israel’s rebellion and exile, the suffering of the prophets, and the long, lonely wait for Messiah—it goes on relentlessly, so that when Jesus finally comes as the Lamb of God, he comes not a moment too soon.
The first act of human evil moved God to bring decisive judgment while simultaneously unveiling his master plan. To complete our redemption—as well as that of the entire fallen creation—he sets in motion his strategy of incarnation, atoning death, resurrection, and ultimate return. And when he returns as the Lion, again it will be neither a moment too soon, nor too late.
The Bible never sugarcoats evil. Its Author presents both the manifestations and consequences of evil and invites our honest questions and emotions.
Thank you, Lord, for accomplishing a million things invisible to me for everything I see and understand. Thank you for always being on the job, usually behind the scenes where it takes faith for me to believe it. And thanks for proving yourself worthy of my faith, not only as my Creator, but as my Savior.
Browse more resources on the topic of suffering, and see Randy’s related books, including If God Is Good.
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Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.