2002-08-13 - Silken Afflictions
Isaiah 45:7 The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.
Summer Question: "For the last two weeks at my Wednesday evening bible study, we have been debating a question that no one seems to be able to get there arms fully around. It is as follows. It is believed that God is omnipotent and omniscient. The debate comes in when events occur that are the result of evil. There is the ever looming question...if God is omnipotent, why do these things happen? Some folks in the bible study say that these events are the result of free will. Others say that they are due to the fact that the power of God is nothing more than love. A force that acts differently than power and therefore is unable to prevent acts like these. I don't agree with the second thought but at the same time, it is difficult to justify this type of an event. I know where my heart is but I am still without answers."
First, let me commend your Bible study for acknowledging that God is both Omnipotent and Omniscient. You are light years ahead of many other Bible studies. The question you raise is called in theological circles, theodicy. However, I would like to avoid this issue directly because we have dealt with it several times before. I would also like to ask you to put aside, for a moment, the two solutions you have purposed and let me purpose a third. I will try to make this more tangible than general in nature.
Let's start with Christ. Did we not know the forgiveness that the death of Christ on the cross would bring in His resurrection, we might think that the cross was a horrid thing. I would submit to you that the Father never loved the Son more than when Christ hung on the cross. What seemed evil to those who witnessed it was, in truth, the greatest mercy that God ever showed creation. What seemed like evil, was, in truth, a manifestation of God's love.
Think of Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel 6). Did not that seem to be a great evil at first? But, think how the love of God is manifested as what seemed to be a great evil is showed to be what it really was in God's perfect plan. Consider Paul in all his whippings, poverty, banishment's, shipwrecks, imprisonment's; what have we? Blessing, blessing blessing, blessing, blessing, and the love of God manifested in the provision of his life and establishment of His church. Think of Job and the death of his flocks, his afflictions of health, the death of his ten children by a wind that blew in the four corners of the house they were in and smashed their brains out. Is there evil in this? It would seem so at first glance, but you must read the end of the book of Job. Even in this there is the love of God manifested as all and even more is restored to Job.
I have used the term silken afflictions as the topic because these afflictions come from love. When God's love sends afflictions or evil our way, if it be from God, it is sent in love. Contrary, when blessings are sent our way, they are really wrath if they are sent from God in judgment. Again, a mercy is more of a plague if it comes from God in judgment upon us for sin. As the verse we started with plainly says, all these things come at the command of God.
To your question directly: So why do these things happen? I submit that they happen because God is a God of love. 1 John 4:8 tells us that, "God is love." This is repeated again in verse 16. The lovingkindness of God towards His children is an amazing thing to consider. When a believer dies it can seem an awful evil. It can seem even worse if the circumstances of the death are unpleasant. However, let us think of the reality of this evil. That person is now with Christ, in glory, in joy. What might seem to us to be a great evil is for that individual a manifestation of the love of God towards them. So it is with all God's dealings with His children, because He loves us with eternal love (2 Thessalonians 2:16) and because He simply is love itself.
Soli Deo Gloria,