Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. – Psalm 73:13-14
Have you ever asked the question, “If God is good, why does He allow evil and suffering to happen in the world?” It’s a question many have asked, and sadly, many don’t know how to answer it. But over the next couple of days, I want us to take a look at the story of a man named Asaph as we try to find a way to answer this question that haunts humankind, Christian or not.
Asaph was playing by the rules, doing life by the numbers, went to church, paid his taxes, didn’t cheat on his business deals, was a good dad and husband, and always tried to do the right thing and yet he said, he was “Afflicted, and every morning brought new punishments.”
We don’t know whether he struggled with physical disease, financial ruin, or family problems. His thinking was, “What is the use of living right if God is not going to do right and I’m going in the wrong direction?” When we find ourselves in a similar situation, wondering the same things, there are two things we must do. We’ll discuss the first one today and the other tomorrow.
The first thing we must do is realize the dynamic of good and evil. Once you admit the existence of evil, you have to admit the existence of good. We describe evil as the negative of things that are good. We say someone is “immoral, unjust, unfair, dishonest” and simply put we would all admit there is not only evil in the world, but there is good in the world. We see both evil and good. More to the point, you have to introduce God.
However, many people don’t want to take that step. They want to throw God out instead. But when you throw out the idea of God, you throw out the meaning of good and then you throw out the meaning of evil.
In an atheistic world, there can really be no actual good or evil, because there is no absolute standard by which to judge anything as being good or evil, right or wrong. The problem with evil is rather than being an argument against God, it actually becomes an argument for God. So if we’re going to answer the question “What’s the point of doing good things if bad things are still going to happen?” we have to first realize the existence of good and evil and how they relate to God.
I pray that you’ll check back tomorrow as we continue this conversation and learn more about what God has to say when we find ourselves in a situation like Asaph did.
Dear Lord, I know that you are a good God, and your goodness is not dependent on my circumstances. Help me to trust that you know best, even when my life isn’t looking the way I wanted it to or hoped it would. In Jesus’ name, amen.