God is not dead. God is not distant. God is not an invention of human superstition or an anthropomorphic interpretation of phenomena beyond our control.
God is alive. God is present. God is real.
People often ask “Where was God?” after turbulent times, tumult, disease, loss, disaster, and despair.
The answer is that God is there. He was there during your cancer. He was there for your divorce. He was there during the holocaust. He was there.
So why didn’t He stop it? Why didn’t He heal it? Why didn’t He prevent it?
There is something fundamentally different between the world religions on this point.
Some answer that God willed it. He is putting you to the test. So, far from putting a stop to it, it was His choice that it happened in the first place.
Some answer that God simply doesn’t interfere. He created the universe, set it in motion, and has long since stopped interacting with it.
Some answer that there is no God. There is simply an impersonal reality that we are a part of and that the best we can hope for is to be absorbed into a non-specific non-individual higher level existence someday when our suffering is over if we have generally worked to improve reality during our momentary personal lifespan.
None of these answers are the Christian faith. And yet, I am surprised regularly to hear answers like these coming from the mouths of confessed Christians.
Christianity has at its heart an individual mandate — a personal, responsible, freely chosen, and committed relationship between the living and present God and you.
We are not just God’s servants or slaves as some religions teach, we are His children and His friends.
We are not just the outcome of random chance and scientific determinism, we are the result of a choice, His choice to create us. Not just in general, but specifically, individually, each and severally.
We are not just the victim of our circumstances, environment, and heredity, we are, like the God who created us, the empowered operators of our own will.
You are free.
Like the God who created you and sustains you, you have a choice. You are free.
So, where is God in evil? What is He doing about disease and disaster? What is the Christian answer?
The answer first and foremost is that God is there. But more than that, He is considering every single input and every single outcome not just in the moment, but for all time before and after, and then making choices about how best to provide for all of the people involved. He is interacting with every person involved and working with them for their own salvation and the salvation of those around them.
Now, especially for those times when you are experiencing evil that is the result of human choices, it is easy to think that the answer should be that God should take control of the people involved, enslave them to His will, and “fix” the situation to make for a better outcome.
Surely God doesn’t want 6 million people killed because of the ignorant hatred and despicable cruelty of others. And He has the power. He could have enslaved the entire Nazi regime and changed the outcome. But what would that make God? Wouldn’t He then be just a tyrant and a slave master?
Salvation is only possible if you are free. God will inspire, encourage, support, provide for, and convince, but He will not control. That is where He draws the line.
God will not resort to control because His entire purpose in creating you is to save you. Salvation is the heart of His purpose. It is the goal and the desire which inspired God to form you in the first place and there is nothing in the world that God will exchange for that chance.
The fact is, you are free. Everyone else is too. And that freedom is both the only opportunity you have for salvation and the greatest threat to it.
You have the power. You have the decision. You can choose to be damned. You have the control to bring hell on earth. You have the ability to fight for or against the enemy. And your choices have actual consequences, not just for you, but for everyone around you.
The question is, what are you doing with the gift of freedom? It is your inalienable right, given by your creator. So, what are you doing with it? Is it really like some world religions teach? That you would be better to give up that freedom and enslave yourself to the will of God?
The Christian answer is that far from asking us to surrender and simply obey, God is asking us to join Him in experiencing the power of freedom to accomplish goodness, mercy, justice, grace, health, peace, joy, fulfillment and blessings of every kind.
God’s will is not something to be obeyed, it is something to be enjoyed.
God is not seeking to control you, God is seeking to free you.
This is the answer to evil. Evil would enslave you. God sets you free.
This is the answer to disease and disaster. Disease and disaster would take everything away from you. God provides for you.
This is the answer to every negative and destructive experience. They cannot destroy you because God will preserve you, give you eternal life, and raise you to a new awareness of the power that you have to accomplish positive and constructive outcomes no matter the circumstances.
There is nothing, nothing at all, that is more important to God than your salvation.
And so, in order to avoid controlling you and enslaving you. In order to guarantee your freedom, which is the only chance for your salvation, God will refuse to do anything that would compromise His chances of convincing, inspiring, encouraging, and changing your heart and your mind.
God wants your heart and your mind. He wants a lasting and committed relationship. He wants to love and be loved. And these are all things that can only be given freely.
Human evil is a big problem, especially because we are free to choose it. So, let us be convinced, inspired, and encouraged today that we will choose to bring blessings and not the curse, life and not death, solutions and not destruction, grace and not defeat, mercy and not despair, justice and not slavery.
And most of all. Let us, like the God who created and sustains us, use our freedom to choose to be present, no matter what — bringing the good news of salvation into every dark corner of every defeated and lost life, showing the way to prosperity, abundance, peace, fulfillment, and joy — not just now, but forever.