The other day after choir practice we heard a big crash outside of the church. We ran outside to find that a car accident had happened on the corner. The 18 year old graduate was in a hurry to get to her awards presentation at the local auditorium. She missed the stop sign and T-boned another vehicle also in a hurry to get to the same event. Everyone thankfully was ok, but the vehicles were not. As I tried to comfort her she looked up at me with big tears in her eyes and said, “Why does God let all of these bad things happen to me? I don’t think that I can believe in him anymore.”
I am not sure what it is like in your neighborhood, but there certainly does seem to be an increase in popularity of “Prosperity Gospel” and “Name it and claim it” theology. –Theological thinking that God is no better than a lucky rabbit’s foot, and if you believe on God hard enough, only good things will happen to you. –Theology that is certainly NOT a part of the Biblical narrative that involves a people in slavery to the Egyptians in the Torah and then later being stepped on by the Romans in the Gospels. This is not the theology in the book of Job (An ancient parable trying to explore the problem of evil, with all its popular explanations.)
To my way of thinking, while God is omnipotent and completely in charge, God limits God self in order to make a way for us to have an actual and real relationship with God. Just like we don’t give a firm handshake to a 6 month old infant, but stick out our finger for them to grasp; God meets us where we are, and out of love limits God’s own self so that we can have the freedom to reach back out to God. God inside and outside of the universe shows us God’s shadow so that we are not crushed by the real and complete presence of God.
But unfortunately, with our freedom, we are often just like naughty children, and we make messes out of our beautiful planet that we forget to clean up, and we let carcinogens into the water and the food chain. We are careless and forget to stop at traffic signals and we run into each other and break spines and brains. We exist on a living planet with fierce weather and tectonic plates, but act like we have never seen these phenomenon before and pretend that God must have sent them over like hit men.
My friends, the Spirit of God lives inside of us, and directs us to live as disciples of love. When bad things happen, it is our opportunity to respond like Christ, in love. The existence of evil allows agape love to exist. The constant human choice to do actual evil or actual good allows our relationships with God and others to be real, and our actions to actually matter.
While we long for a world without evil in it, for that we will have to wait until we reach the dimension of heaven.