|Nicholas L. Laning|
Where do we get the idea that God is good, loving?
I am going to lay one truth down. God's being loving and evil's existence is not incompatible at all. Think about the fact that you got the idea that God is loving from the Bible. You may think it is universal. It isn't. It is Judeo-Christian. Most eastern religions don't have a god at all. There is either illusion, or nothingness, or something else, but no god. Hinduism has millions of gods, but they are all a part of the illusion of life. They aren't a loving supreme being. So, you are getting your idea of God being loving from Judaism and Christianity. It is not an innate belief. If it were, it would have played itself out in other cultures. God being loving is very unique, not common.
Must a supreme being be loving?
No. A supreme being doesn't have to be loving. I am not talking about the Bible. I am simply saying that something could have created everything and not be loving. They do not have to go hand in hand at all. That is illogical. That is like saying that everyman that walks through the door will be able to whistle Dixie. What does whistling have to do with walking through a door? Nothing. A man CAN walk through a door and whistle Dixie, but it isn't necessary. Neither is necessary for a being be able to create our universe and have to love. It is simply that Judeo-Christian influence you have if you feel that way. You may not like it, but it is true.
So, we get our idea of God being loving from the Bible. Does it then say suffering isn't real?
Umm, no. Not even close. You could pretty much take a Bible in your hand, close you eyes, open the Bible to a random page, and you will find suffering, probably a lot of it. Read Job. Job didn't even do anything wrong, and God allowed him to suffer. Moses, David, Noah, Adam, every prophet, everybody in the Bible suffered. Matter of fact, most of the Bible is about how to deal with suffering. Think about that now. This is the same book that gave you the idea of God being loving. So, the same book says that God is loving also says that suffering is very, very real. So then, God's idea of love includes allowing suffering. Is that illogical? Nope, and we know it. Suffering can exist with love.
Is it possible for suffering to exist with a loving God?
It isn't illogical for God to be loving and allow pain. It is simply unpleasant. We just don't like it, and as much as we like to think of ourselves as rational, we are prone to believe with our feelings. If we don't like it, we don't WANT to believe it. This is why when a MAN goes into a room and shoots people we get mad at God. We don't want it to be about man. If it is about man, it could then be about us, and we want to believe we are awesome. We ain't. All of history speaks volumes about how not awesome we are. We think that because we haven't killed someone that we are good. Never mind that we are selfish, greedy, prideful, arrogant, etc. etc.
Even if it is logically coherent for suffering to exist in world created by a God who is loving, why did that God choose to do things this way?
I don't know. I have about eight different theories as to what the answer could be, but they are just that... guesses. In the end, what we take heart in is that the God of the Bible, unlike any other deity ever put forward, took part in our suffering. Think about that. God allows evil, allows suffering to exist, but He did not stay up in the heavens and laugh from a distance. He became man, and took on more suffering than you or I have. He was tortured on our behalf. That is loving. He delved into the pain, and thus proved that pain can exist, and that He is still loving.
If not God, then what?
This is where most people I have seen fall short. We don't like what God has chosen to do, so we choose to reject Him. However, it is very rare to ask the question, then what? Judaism and Islam both have suffering and a loving God. You can't get away form that there. Eastern religions don't have a loving god, usually not a god at all. There is justice. Most run to atheism. Question... if matter is all that is, then what is evil? The answer is nothing. Evil is just another chemical reaction. Your "life" is nothing but matter trying to stay in a certain form. There is nothing transcendent, nothing eternal about evil. The shootings in Aurora, Colorado are nothing more than a chemical and physical reaction. Does that sound better? Does that comfort you? Is that freeing? It is truly awful. It is the death of anything transcendent, the death of justice. The death of love. All is simply chemical.
How do you come to peace with God and evil?
Read the Bible. If you read the Bible, you will cease to be surprised by evil's existence, as it is everywhere. You will see that judging God on being hypocritical can only be done by rejecting His own description of Himself. If you do that then you have to realize that you are getting your ideas of God from somewhere else, and you cannot judge the God of the Bible with the Bible.
Here are two pieces of scripture to leave you with...
1 "Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand? 2 Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like a hired hand who looks for his wages, 3 so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me. 4 When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn. 5 My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh. 6 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and come to their end without hope. 7 "Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good. 8 The eye of him who sees me will behold me no more; while your eyes are on me, I shall be gone. 9 As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up; 10 he returns no more to his house, nor does his place know him anymore. 11 "Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. 12 Am I the sea, or a sea monster, that you set a guard over me? 13 When I say, 'My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,' 14 then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, 15 so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones. 16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath. 17 What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, 18 visit him every morning and test him every moment? 19 How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit? 20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you? 21 Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be."
Hopefully this has found you well. I am not perfect. I am fallen. My heart's desire is to share the love of Christ with you. If I have not done that, then please write me and admonish me.