Why is there so much suffering and evil in the world? Why doesn’t God do more to heal the sick? Why doesn’t he take down all the bad guys?
Even little kids wonder about all the misery in the world. Hence, the latest apologetics session with my two oldest grandsons, age 12 and 10: the problem of evil.
I asked the boys to pretend they were each creating a video game starring a teenage boy. What would the boys’ names be?
The 12-year old said “Max,” and the 10-year old named his character “Zane.” Max’s main hobby, ironically, would be playing video games. Zane’s would be skateboarding.
I asked the boys how they were going to make sure Max and Zane were good people and stayed out of trouble inside their (pretend) worlds. Not much response to that question.
Then I asked if they were going to give Max and Zane the gift of “free will,” or would their actions be scripted — that is, predetermined? Both boys immediately insisted their characters would be given free will.
I asked how they would feel if Max and Zane exercised their free will for harm and destruction, destroying all the hopes and dreams they (my grandsons) had for them?
Both kids said they’d be pretty disappointed.
I pointed out how this story played itself out in real life in Genesis 1-3. Adam and Eve, as representatives of the human race, were given the gift of free will.
“Unfortunately,” I said to the boys, “Adam and Eve exercised their free will against God. Imagine how God must have felt. His beautiful created characters rejected his offer of love and relationship and went off on their own. And in so doing, they brought the whole creation down with them.”
And that’s why we live in a broken, fallen world where bad things happen to good people.
But of course it’s the church’s job, in the power of the Spirit, to bring healing and justice to the shattered lives of the hurting. We must pray, serve, and preach the gospel. That’s our calling.
Will my two beloved grandsons obey this holy calling? That’s up to their own free will.
- On a Calvinist perspective the above framing of free will would need an adjustment.
- For a more extended treatment of the problem of suffering and evil, see my Faith is Like Skydiving, ch. 7.