While visiting the cemeteries surrounding the old churches in Cades Cove, Tennessee, my brother and I marveled over the numerous headstones showing children’s names—children who had lived only a few days or months. Children who lived in a place where medical care was scarce and fell far short of today’s standards. As they watched their children slowly slip from this life, some of these parents must have wondered why God was allowing this if he was so good. As a minister, I too have had this question posed to me by those who’ve lost children to illnesses or tragedies. And by some who haven’t experienced any personal tragedies but are simply trying to rectify in their minds how a good God and the presence of evil can co-exist.
Jeremiah was given the unpleasant task of telling his people that their world would soon crumble because of their disobedience to God. While he understood the consequences of bad choices, he must have cringed at what God told him these pagan marauders would do to his people and beloved city. LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? (Jeremiah 12:1 NLT)
Evil is present because God allows freedom of choice. Evidently this freedom originally extended beyond humans, for initially Satan was an angel. He and many others choose to rebel against God (Isaiah 41:13-14). With their rebellion, sin entered, and with Adam and Eve’s rebellion, sin entered my world. Freedom is a part of what makes me human, but it’s also what occasionally leads me into sin. Humanity—and even the world itself, is contaminated.
God is sovereign over evil but temporarily allows it. Why no one knows. Satan may currently spread mayhem, but he is limited by God’s power and permission. Old Testament Job’s dilemma reminds me of this. God’s power is exposed by observing how he takes Satan’s evil intentions and manufactures good from them (Romans 8:28).
Satan may be wreaking havoc, but God is still good and still in control…all the time.
Prayer: Merciful Father, protect us from the antics of the evil one, and remind us that You are always and eternally in control. Thank You guiding our world and lives with Your goodness.
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