Can anything good come out of this? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Last night, my wife was talking on the phone to a friend of ours and I could hear what my wife was saying. She was talking about a guy who she had had a romantic interest in before I came along. She was saying that if she met him today, she would first be angry with him because of how he treated her, but then she would thank him. Why? Because it was through what he did to her that eventually she came to meet me and if she hadn’t have had the evil happen, she likely would not have had the good happen.
Why do I bring this up? Because this is the kind of thing I usually hear when it comes to the problem of evil. How can a good God allow X to happen? At the time, many of the sufferings we undergo do not seem pleasant. We wonder how it is that a loving God could ever allow them. Years later many times, we look back and we’re thankful for that struggle. A lot of us look back at those times with great appreciation.
This is one reason I just find the problem of evil entirely unconvincing. At the time being, it can be convincing, but this is usually in an emotional sense rather than a rational sense. It’s also because at the time of suffering, we have a tendency to look at the suffering itself and not look at every other good thing. The good often pales in comparison.
Could it also be something else? Could it be that we in here in the West have an entitlement mindset? We don’t think that we deserve what is happening to us. We often have this idea in our minds that if you do good, you should get rewarded immediately and if you do evil, you should get punished immediately.
We cry out to God for justice, and many times it does not come immediately, yet at this we should often be relieved. After all, God says that He has no impartiality or favoritism. If He comes to give justice to our enemies, could He also bring justice down on us as well? It’s when it gets to us that we suddenly talk about mercy. We want justice for our enemies and mercy for ourselves. Rarely, if ever, do we ask for the reverse.
By contrast, we could say Paul did this. In Romans 9, Paul tells us that he would be cut off for the sake of his brethren, those Jews that often did try to kill him. Paul could ask God to save them even if it would mean that He would be cut off from God. Paul surely knew what it meant to ask for mercy for one’s enemies and justice for one’s self.
Perhaps the greatest danger with the problem of evil is that it really gets us more withdrawn into ourselves and more self-focused. What needs to be done is to take a step back and see what can happen. Again, there might be many times when we won’t know of such good until years down the line. It could be that for some cases we won’t even know until eternity.
If we’re Christians, we have a biblical promise in Romans 8. All things will work together for good to those that love the Lord. Of course, it doesn’t say all things are good. They’re certainly not. It says all things will work for good. This is why I encourage Christians to not see your identity in Romans 7. See it instead in Romans 8.
For the atheist who wishes to use evil, the burden is on them. Suppose I do not know what good will come out of evil X. All you’ve proven is that I don’t know everything about the future, and I would have happily conceded that. What has to be shown is that you know that no good will come out of X. That’s quite a claim to make and good luck showing it.
Not only that, evil itself doesn’t give a counterexplanation for the theistic arguments for God or the historical arguments for the resurrection. I tend to find evil as an argument powerful for people who are emotional thinkers. Many times, I consider it an excuse for some to get out of a faith that they are wanting to abandon. Sadly, atheism isn’t much of an answer. Not only do you still have the problem, but you’ve also killed the hope of the greatest solution to that problem as well.
I am fine with some unknowns and all of us have them. I have no wish to base my worldview on them. My own wife found that out of one of the greatest times of evil came one of the greatest goods for her. What will come out of evil in your life today?