How do you reconcile the goodness of God with such a broken world?
I recently wrestled with answering this question. It’s not something that I doubt. God’s goodness is something I have personally experienced. But there are plenty of things that I haven’t experienced. I don’t know what it is to go hungry. I don’t know what it is like to be homeless or to lack warm clothing. I have never had to worry about paying medical bills or living paycheck to paycheck. So I look at someone like me and wonder, how can you tell the person who really has need that God is good?
The answer can be summarized by one word: generosity. Just like a good father gives generously to his children, God has been generous with us (Matthew 7:11). He rescued us from enslavement to sin and promised us an inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). To free us from this world, He gave his Son (John 3:16 – 17). To guide us on our way, He sent his Spirit (1 John 4:13). He catches our tears (Psalm 56:8) and heals our brokenness (Psalm 147:3) and smooths out our rough edges. He took away the ugliness inside us and gave us something beautiful (Isaiah 61:1-3). We seek, we ask, and He gives (Matthew 7:7).
And He asks us to do the same. Why? Because we are the church, the hands and feet of Jesus. We are His ambassadors to the world. We are supposed to be the ones to feed the hungry, take care of the orphans, and provide for the widows. We are supposed to fight the injustice and stand for what is right. (Matthew 25:31-40)
Nothing happens in this world that God does not know about (Psalm 11:4). Yes, He sees the abused and oppressed but He also sees the abusers and oppressors (Proverbs 15:3). And because He is holy, He cannot tolerate such evil. Because He is good, He will not turn away from the suffering. Because He is just, the world and everyone in it will be held accountable (1 Peter 4:5). Because He is perfect and pure, untainted and unjaded, the punishment will fit the crime. Someday. The day we all stand before Him and give account for our lives, the good and the bad (Hebrews 4:13).
For those who are suffering, someday may feel much too far away. A lifetime can be a long time to wait for justice. Enter the Church, friends; God’s people here and everywhere. The world may not know what is pure and good and just, but we do because we know God. And though we are forgiven and redeemed, we are still held accountable for our actions and inactions. What are we to do with this? Two things, and Jen Wilkins says it so perfectly in her book In His Image: we should have an “inward-facing desire to obey” and an “outward-facing desire to do justice for others.”
So instead of asking “How can a good God allow evil?” I challenge you with this question: How are you being the hands and feet of Jesus in a lost and broken world?
Abundantly More – Knowing God and Making God Known.
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him..” – Matthew 7:11 NLT
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” – Hebrews 4:13 NLT
This series is inspired by Jen Wilkin. For a more detailed look at God’s goodness and justice, read chapters 3 and 4 from In His Image.