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Sunday, February 14, 2010

The God Who Risks

For the past week, I have been taking a class called "Perspectives on Evil and Suffering". The premise of the class was to ask the question, "If God is good and if God is powerful, then why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?" The reasoning behind this question is evident. If God is truly good, then He would want to keep us from experiencing evil and suffering. And if God is powerful, He would have the ability to do what was necessary to keep us from evil and suffering.

But we all know that evil and suffering exist, and not just in a general, non-specific kind of way. We know from very personal, painful experience that our world is filled with evil and suffering. This can cause us, as it has caused many generations before us, to conclude that either God is not good, or God is not powerful.

But what if it is something more? What if God created this world with incredible potential and possibility? And in creating a world that was truly free to choose its destiny, this included the risk that people would choose paths that led not to God, but to evil and suffering. Is this a risk worth taking? When we look at the pain our world has experienced- Hitler, genocide, child prostitution rings, the list could go on- we might ask, "Is it worth it?" Is it worth the risk for God to give us this potential, this freedom? Some might even go so far as to say that it would be better if God had not created at all, rather than to allow His creation to experience such devastating pain.

God's decision to create can be likened to the decision that young parents make to have children. In deciding to have a child, we KNOW that the child will suffer in some way, shape or form in this world. We know that no matter how we guide, guard, and protect, the cruelty of the human race will scar that child. And we also know that the experience of having a child will bring suffering to us- suffering in the pain of labor, suffering in struggle to raise a child, even pain in the pocketbook. And so, in a sense, we willingly bring more suffering into the world. Why? Because we believe that life, with all of its risks, is always preferable to the alternative.

When God created this world, He took a huge risk in making it free to choose for or against Him, knowing the pain and suffering that could result. Yet God took the risk because He believed, because He knew, that life filled with risk was better than no life at all. And so, God gives you freedom to choose Him, or not. He gives you a world that is filled with the possibilities of extreme pain and loss. But in this world of possibility, there is also beauty, grace and love. And when we find these, we find our way back to God.

No matter what you are walking through in this season of life, I pray that you know God's heart for you. That God believed life, your life, was worth the risk. And now He waits and hopes that in complete freedom, you will choose Him, the author and perfecter of our faith.

May you know Him on your journey today,


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Gary Stephenson said...

Hi Nick. I just finished reading "The Shack" as I'm here in Columbus on my work training trip. That book deals with the very issues that you are discussing in this post. Very poignant. I have to agree, it's a risk worth taking. Thanks!

Josh said...

Great thoughts. :) I find it fascinating that not only does God believe that life without risks is better than no life at all, but He even believes that life with risks is better than life without risks. Even though Christianity encourages "safe" living, God encourages us to live with risk and extreme faith. Good stuff!