Yesterday I quoted Trevin Wax: “To people wrestling with the problem of evil: God didn’t come to explain evil; he came to utterly destroy it.” This is a profound reminder that the gospel’s answer to suffering and evil is not a theory. It’s a reality centered on the cross and the restoration of all things.
The God Who Suffers
In The God I Don’t Understand, Christopher Wright says that the problem of evil can cause us to question one or more of the following truths:
- the utter evilness of evil
- the utter goodness of God
- the utter sovereignty of God
It’s at the cross that we see all three truths coming together. The cross exposes the utter depths of evil as all of its forces were hurled at Jesus. The cross reveals the goodness of God, who offered himself in radical love. And it reveals the sovereignty of God as events unfolded according to his sovereign will from eternity.
For God, the problem of evil isn’t an academic one. God himself became a man and willingly experienced the full force of evil on our behalf. As Tim Keller puts it in The Reason for God, “God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself…We can know that God is truly Immanuel – God with us – even in our worst sufferings.”
The Final Defeat of Evil
Not only this, but suffering and evil will not have the last word. Keller again says, “Every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.”
Christopher Wright says:
This is our great hope and joyful expectation. In the midst of all of our struggles now, as we confront evils we cannot understand and as we cry out to the God we cannot fully understand, we are urged by Jesus to pray, “Deliver us from evil.” More than merely a prayer for daily protection, that is a cosmic request that will one day be cosmically answered…
When the reign of God extends over every corner of the universe, when the earth is filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea, when the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, when heaven and earth are renewed and united under the righteous rule of Christ, when the dwelling place of God is again with humanity, when the city of God is the centre of all redeemed reality – then we will have been delivered from evil forever.
The cross and the resurrection of Christ accomplished it in history and guarantee it for all eternity. In such hope we can rejoice with incomparable joy and total confidence.