The Problem of Evil and a God of Love
It feels as if He were a God of love and justice and power, He would and could remove all evil. As it is, evil remains. So do our feelings of confusion.
In a forgotten corner of the Hebrew Scriptures we catch a glimpse of this seeming contradiction with the problem of evil as well as its resolution.
Nahum’s Promise Still Speaks
The Prophet Nahum’s little book offers a rare glimpse at the balance of the Lord’s character:
“The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” —Nahum 1:3
We see two truths in this verse that offer insight into the tension we feel.
- The Lord’s patience and power reflect complementary attributes. The Creator’s character as “slow to anger” describes His patience, not His impotence. He is a God of love. In addition to being “slow to anger,” Nahum also explains the Lord as “great in power.” Ask any mother who exercises patience with a disobedient and strong-willed child. She will admit it requires great power of self-control to exercise patience.
The world points to the presence of evil as proof of the Lord’s weakness. The Bible points to evil as proof of God’s patience.
Why does God allow evil? In short, so that we may choose good. Without the possibility of evil, we would have no freedom of choice. The Lord permits evil for a time so that people will believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins (2 Peter 3:9). We have a similar struggle in a society where a madman has the freedom to gun down the innocent.
- The Lord’s justice will one day satisfy all. In addition to being a God of love, He is also just. Nahum tells us: “the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” When the time comes, the Almighty will offer no more second chances. Only the Lord has the ability to perfectly balance patience, power, and punishment—and the timing of each.
“The wheels of God’s justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.” — A. W. Tozer
Nahum’s promise offers a balance of comfort and warning. The Lord is a God of love and of justice. The Lord’s present patience will in no way sway the severity of His coming justice.
Living in the Mean Time
In a time of unprecedented evil and the Lord’s seeming apathy to it all, we can still take comfort in the face of the unknown pain of our lives. We know one day it will all end.
Here are four resources that go further than a brief blog post can about this issue:
- Hard Questions, Real Answers, by William Lane Craig. Deals well with the problem of evil as well as other hard questions.
- “What Good is Evil?” My podcast on the problem of evil from a biblical perspective.
- “Why is God’s Justice so Slow?” My podcast that expands on Nahum’s verse we examined.
- Christian Apologetics Resources — A page of resources for the tough questions of Christianity.
There is always hope, because there is always heaven. What’s more, we know how it will end. The problem of evil won’t always be a problem.
God wins, evil loses.
How do you deal with the seeming contradiction that a good God allows evil? Please leave a comment.