Our answer

Luke 10:25-28
One of the hardest conversations to engage involves theodicy.

This is the topic of why a good and gracious God allows evil to exist. Why doesn’t God keep children from being abducted and abused? Why won’t God step in to stop wars, murders and rape? Is God okay with the pain and suffering of humanity? How could the Lord let an eighteen-year-old walk into a grocery store intent on killing as many black people as he could?

Questions like these have persisted throughout history. With good reason. For many, the answers only prove that God either does not exist or is not as powerful or loving as once thought. Most times, any response leads to further questions. Again, with good reason.

If you haven’t wrestled with theodicy a time or dozen, you may not have taken your faith seriously. Now, some of us heard you aren’t allowed to question God. Those who do run the risk of losing faith and turning away from Jesus. We worry that giving people space to question will only open them up to rejecting their love for God.

But not dealing with tough questions runs another risk.

Preachers and faith healers throughout generations have sold an easy faith. Their message says all you have to do is believe and life works out perfectly. Believe enough and you escape suffering and can expect blessing upon blessing. I relate that kind of faith to a get-rich-quick scheme. When you believe your faith should relieve you from troubles and suffering, you’re in for a big fall.

Many people turn away from faith when tragedy or evil shows up in their lives. They do so because they were not prepared. It was not supposed to be this way.

All that to say this, make room for the difficult questions. It’s okay to wrestle with God in our minds and faith. And learn to see the fluff some faith leaders build trust in Jesus with. As one book says, “Never trust a leader without a limp.” Think of Jacob’s wrestle.

No answer to theodicy or any other struggle we have is sufficient for everyone. Still, in light of evil and suffering, we do have a choice.

When the “expert in the law” (Luke 10:25) approached Jesus, he wanted to test him. That wasn’t unusual. He wanted to know how Jesus taught people to inherit eternal life. They both knew the answer: love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus, though, would go further. He told the parable of the Good Samaritan as a response to the question. For us today, that is a reminder, God knows there is evil in the world. Some people are left for dead on the side of the road. Now, why God allows that to happen, I don’t always have a good response.

But I know our love of God should inspire us to respond with care, healing, compassion and mercy. Our answer, then, is always love.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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