When a tragedy like this past week’s in Haiti strikes normally we are left speechless as we reckon with our own mortality. When we hear stories of survival and stories of lives lost we are heart broken and our emotions are jarred from shock to denial to anger and to numerous questions. One of those questions is the action and involvement of a good God or lack there of; “if there is a loving God why so much suffering, why diseases, terrorism, natural disasters like earth quakes, tsunamis, hurricanes etc” the questions flood our minds.
The various horrific events in the world and around us are reminders that “the problem of evil and suffering” is not something we will “solve” before the Lord returns, and our primary task is not so much to give answers to these seemingly impossible questions but rather to embody signs of God’s renewed creation on the basis of Jesus’ death and resurrection through the Holy Spirit who empowers us.
The call of Abraham starts to answer the question of God’s care for evil and suffering. That call continues through Abraham’s descendants, not as the explanation of why there is evil and suffering, but as the story of what the creator is now doing about it. Since the terrible event in the Garden of Eden, God’s grief for creating humans, the Tower of Babel and Abraham, God has been involved in restoration, which ultimately led to his son’s gruesome death on a tree.
God who made the world remains passionately and compassionately involved with it. For the Christian, the problem is how to understand and celebrate the goodness of creation and, at the same time, understand and face up to the reality and seriousness of evil and suffering and how to tell the Christian story in such a way that, without attempting to “solve” the problem in a simplistic nevertheless address the way in which God is at work and in that the church also holding hope alive that one day Christ will come and reset all things and wipe all our tears away writes N. T Wright.
If we can work toward understanding and being the willing agents of both the divine tears over the world’s evil and the embrace creativity in our response, I believe we join God in his redemptive efforts. Evil is powerful but love is more powerful. Love is on our side