I’ve been attending and speaking at the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute at Oxbridge. At one of the seminars, I talked about the problem of evil and suffering. We discussed how EVERY worldview must address this problem and the problem of GOOD as well. And no worldview does this as well as the biblical one.
Much of the good of this world, such as the beauty of a flower or the grandeur of a waterfall or the joy of an otter at play, serves no more practical purpose than great art. It does, however, serve the high purpose of filling us with delight, wonder, and gratitude.
Thomas Schmidt tells of an old woman he met in a nursing home. Blind and almost deaf, Mabel was eighty-nine. She’d lived there for twenty-five years and now sat strapped in a wheelchair.
Schmidt handed Mabel a flower and said, “Happy Mother’s Day.”
She tried to smell it. “Thank you,” she said, her words garbled. “It’s lovely. But since I’m blind, can I give it to someone else?” When he wheeled her to another resident, she held out the flower and said, “Here, this is from Jesus.”
Schmidt asked, “Mabel, what do you think about when you lie in your room?”
“I think about my Jesus.”
“What do you think about Jesus?”
As she spoke slowly and deliberately, he wrote down her words: “I think how good he’s been to me. He’s been awfully good.… I’m one of those kind who’s mostly satisfied.… I’d rather have Jesus. He’s all the world to me.”
Why does anyone feel gratitude? And why do people, even irreligious survivors of a plane crash, so often thank God? Do people thank time, chance, and natural selection for the good they experience? No, because innately we see life as a gift from God.
Some of the world’s goodness can be described only as supernatural since from a naturalistic viewpoint we should all ruthlessly step on one another to survive. Despite its current flaws, the world’s beauty and goodness testify to a Creator who designed it with order and purpose. Don’t evil and suffering grab our attention precisely because they are not the norm in our lives? Our shock at evil testifies to the predominance of good.
The Christian worldview explains goodness as rooted in God, revealed by God, and rewarded by him. It gives reason for great optimism to those who embrace it.
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
1 Chronicles 16:8–10
Lord, help us to see the goodness around us: faithful people, food, dogs and waterfalls, sports and the arts, and the very air we breathe. Thank you for all that comes from you, for you are the source of all good things. Thank you for preparing a place for us of eternal goodness and natural wonders that will unmistakably shout your greatness and kindness for all to see.
Read more about the problem of evil and suffering, and God's goodness, in 90 Days of God's Goodness.