Our Problem with Evil.
There is a certain serenity that comes to me only when I am mowing the lawn. This week, as I was doing just that, my son was outside playing with the bubble machine. He was using a plastic toy as a sword to slice the bubbles as they came out. (Kyle really wants to be a Jedi!)
Fresh smell of cut grass, shining sunshine, bubbles floating through the air, laughing little boy; ah, summer life!
And then I noticed my daughter standing there behind my son. She was grasping her forehead and crying so I stopped the mower to ask what had happened. My son was already shouting, “It was an accident! It was an accident!”
I asked my daughter what happened, and she confirmed her brothers claim. “He accidently hit me with his toy when I was walking by.”
I didn’t see any blood or bruising, and she said she was fine so I decided to go back to mowing. However, no sooner had she calmed down when Kyle went back to slicing bubbles and almost hit her again. I stopped him and explained that just because it was an accident does not mean that he was not responsible. Although I wasn’t going to punish him for hurting his sister, he was responsible to realize that his actions had caused the problem and he needed to take steps to prevent it from happening again. While his intentions were innocent enough, Kyle brought pain to another person. How many of us have experienced such a thing?
The prophet Habakkuk asked God:
“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves” (Habakkuk 1:13 NIV)?
He asked God a question that many of us have asked, “Why is there evil?” “Why do bad things happen?”
It would not be possible to fully answer this question in a short column—to be honest, I don’t think we are any more capable of fully grasping the nature of evil than we are of grasping all of the mysteries of the universe. We can learn, we can get closer with every generation, but we are finite, and there will always be another variable that we didn’t consider before. That being said, I think we can learn a lot from the simplest of examples.
My son, even in his innocence, brought pain into the world. He lacked the experience and knowledge necessary to connect his actions with the consequences. As a parent, my task is to help him make those connections so that he won’t miss this opportunity to grow. I want him to mature into a man who considers that all of his actions will affect others and will intentionally try to make choices that help, rather than harm, his fellow man.
As adults, we often act as if we grasp all of the knowledge and understanding about what causes pain and suffering in the world. Too often, we think that we have control of situations only to have disaster strike in spite of our best intentions. And because of our arrogant nature, we have a tendency to blame others for the problems we have brought into the world. A huge problem with evil, at least as far as we are concerned, is that we don’t like to believe that we are the cause.
God, the only entity who does understand all things, gives us commands to follow. These commands are not because He is intolerant, or a homophobe, or a control freak. The commands that God gives us are to help us become a people who do not—even with the most innocent and honorable of intentions—bring more pain and suffering into the world.
Just as my kids need guidance, so do every one of us—there is no exception.
In his conversation with God, Habakkuk comes to this realization; that God intends only good for us, and it is our refusal to accept that reality that brings us suffering. Our responsibility is to obey God so that we can live in confidence that we are doing the best that we possibly can to rid the world of evil.
“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19)
The greatest cause of suffering in this world, is our own refusal to take responsibility for our actions.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!