Death is something I think we have all struggled with at some time or another. For many this struggle is a direct result of a loss of a loved one, or someone very close. I personally could not imagine the loss of a very close friend or family member. I have been sheltered from the immediacy of death, as I haven’t had a developed personal relationship with anyone at all who has died, count me lucky. Though luck is not the quite the word; because of the inevitability of human death, I will surely experience loss first hand. On this area of death I cannot give any real opinion. But the inevitability of death is something everyone can relate to. Knowing that we are going to die, that every second that goes by is one closer to our death; how can we find meaning in the lives we live? And is there any meaning in the dead that had once lived?
Death is a shadow looming over many people, it blots out hope and conceals all purpose. On the other hand, people that get used to a certain light, do adjust. They say if you eat a lot of carrots your eyes will adjust to the darkness quicker. How quick do our lives adjust to the shadows, where death rules and the belief in eternal life is a sinking sunset? Most people would rather ignore the inevitability of death, and focus on the reasons, and circumstances of the way people die. This ignorance, leads to the actions of nihilism without the personal declaration. C.S. Lewis in, The Screwtape Letters, speaks to this when he wrote, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
As a Christian there is light that completely eliminates the shadow of death. When Jesus was killed, that shadow of death loomed (Luke 23:44). With his resurrection, and ascension, he showed the proof of eternal life, and how we are to participate as well. While that shadow loomed Jesus said “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46 ESV)
The answer of Jesus has brought me incredible comfort, when there were no answers from the world, but yet more questions of death and afterlife.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)
You do not need to look farther than your news feed to see acts of evil, and I am not talking about the “duck face” selfies, although scary, maybe not evil. I am talking about war torn countries, world hunger, IS etc. Is the existence of evil something to be feared or is it something we need to understand? The Apostle Paul implies, in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, directly to the inevitability of pain and suffering. He writes that on one hand we are wasting away on the outside, but through Christ we can be renewing our heart, soul, and mind day by day. Evil and the things that come with it, like pain and suffering, are merely a preparation for what good is to come.
I believe Paul is writing truth, in my own thoughts, I see evil as a contrast. When we want to explain and understand something in everyday life, we often apply a contrast in order to compare and fully understand a topic. Paul applies evil as the contrast to which we can fully understand more the glory and goodness there is to come. “Where good is to evil, eternity is to a fleeting moment.”
Good is inherent in creation, Paul writes about that when he mentions the unseen, which is eternal. Simply put, the unseen is good, the seen which is transient, is evil. If you look at life the way Paul is writing here, it should bring you comfort. Comfort in knowing all the bad you may experience here on earth, is nothing by comparison to what good is waiting in eternity. Keep your focus centered on what is unseen, the good things that are eternal. I encourage you to take a few seconds and think about the good relationships in your life; notice the good that goes unseen.
Earlier this week the Islamic State (IS) claimed another attack. This attack was on a Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers. IS claims this plane also carried a bomb of their handiwork. This is only one of many stories of atrocities committed by this organization. The actions of the IS are what most people would say to be evil. But what exactly is evil and why does God allow it?
Evil by definition is the corruption of good. It is the corruption of what is morally right and/or righteous. From a Biblical perspective evil began from the disobedience in Eden, the entrance of sin. Evil is one of those titles that everyone in the world can place it on an action, to some degree or another. This plays into our universal morality we all know and live by. By this morality, we observe immediately that bombing a plane is probably not a good thing to do.
I think God can and does prevent evil. However, if God did remove all evil, completely shutting down the IS and removing any trace of evil works on earth, then, would this eliminate free will? I think not. Our free will is not reliant on there being an evil, but rather it is reliant on there being good. For there cannot be evil without good but there can be good without evil. It is our own free will that propagates evil in this world. The original creation had no evil, “and God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen 1:31).
What can the IS stand to gain from doing such atrocities? It is an example of a prideful organization. They would have you think it is their way or the highway. They operate under a self understanding that they are not doing evil, but good according to their worldview. At the very least I can think of 224 reasons that evil exists, but the exact answer for why God allows such evil, is at its very root, a mystery to me.