Sometimes, the tragedy, violence, suffering, and despair which fill the world overwhelm me, and I can’t help but ask, “Where is God?”
There’s no greater theological and emotional problem than “the problem of evil”: If God is all-loving and all-powerful, why do evil, suffering, and death exist?
This way of framing the problem comes from Greek philosophy, which, to oversimplify, claimed that the Supreme Being had to be omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and impassible (incapable of suffering).
Here’s what I think:
God is everywhere present, but not in a way that cancels the very real presence of other creatures. What others do affect what God does.
God is all-powerful, but God’s power is not “command and control” authority. It is not coercive. It is, instead, the power of suffering love.
People are free to do both mundane and massive evil. Sometimes I wonder if the risk God took in granting such freedom to us is “worth it,” but that freedom is ours.
God is omniscient in this way: God knows everything which can be known. God knows how history will end—in wholeness and joy. There are, however, some things which are contingent and not yet known, even by God.
God is not impassible—invulnerable to suffering. It’s impossible to say that God was in Christ—that God experienced pain, loneliness, and in Jesus—and still to think that God does not suffer.
Most crucially, God is all-loving. God is relentlessly at work for our good and for our wholeness, but that God’s way working is by persuasion, invitation, and partnership.
When the worst things overwhelm us—when the shadows and heartbreak of crucifixion have killed everything good, true, and beautiful—resurrection is rushing toward us from God’s future.
We end, not in darkness, but in Light.