Those whose lives have been torn apart by fires, shootings, and rumors this Summer need hope. When tragedy or disaster strikes where can we find hope? How many of us ask the same questions: Where is God? Why did this happen? Jeremiah writes 5 tragic poems compiled in a book called Lamentations. Israel was being besieged by Babylon around 600BC. The last destruction and burning of the town happened in 586BC. Jeremiah is devastated as are all the people. Many of them might ask the same questions we ask.
So, why does evil exist? Why do bad things happen to people. Here are 4 thoughts to those questions.
1. Evil exists because of our poor choices and the consequences of those poor choices. I have discussed with many people about the circumstances they were facing. Whether they were sentenced to jail or rehab, facing financial ruin because of gambling and other addictions, or marriage complications because God was never involved in the process, the answer is still the same. Each one of us face a certain level of “evil” because of the associations we chose, or the actions we committed.
2. Evil exists because of poor choices others make and the consequences you must face as a result. Face it, we are not always responsible for what happens. The drunk who ran the light, or the sexual predator who took advantage of your child, the bully in the 4th grade, or the arson who burned 1000’s of acres. There is a certain amount of evil we must address in our lives because of the freedom humanity has to make choices of right and wrong. We are not automated to make right decisions. We have been given a freedom to choose but that does not always end pretty. With freedom comes an unmistakable chance for evil to occur.
3. Bad things happen because God uses them for purification or discipline. The allowances of God baffle us. How can a good God let bad things happen? How could a holy God allow evil? How can an omnipotent God not stop evil? He could stop anything He wanted. However, much of the lessons I have learned in life come from bad times. Those moments when God allows evil to come through. Israel during this time of Jeremiah is facing this very thing. She has continued to rebel and God is bringing discipline. None of us like going to the proverbial woodshed. Yet, the mistakes were not quickly repeated! Bad times are something like detox. The process of cleansing your body and shedding the evil is not polite, but it is effective. Pure gold and silver are acquired after the metal passes through intense fire. Purity comes through trial.
4. Bad things happen so that God can receive glory. The apostles run up on this blind guy in John 9. He has been blind since birth and they wonder whose sin resulted in this problem. Jesus responds that neither he nor his parents sinned resulting in this man’s blindness. Instead, this man was born blind so that at this very moment God could receive glory. How many of us look at bad times from this perspective? Yet, it is a valid point.
While not intended to be an exhaustive list, I believe all of us can find a rallying point in one of these four as an explanation to our problem. A word of caution should be issued here. before we jump too quickly and blame someone else, we should always look inside ourselves to see if we are the culprit. Have I sinned? Have I forsaken God? Have I established other things as important as God in life? Have I caused this in any way? This will keep us humble, healthy, and wise in our relationships to God and Man. Here’s to finding hope in God!!
19 Remember my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
20 I continually remember [them]
and have become depressed.
21 Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
23 They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
24 I say: The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him.
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the person who seeks Him.