Finally, I end with the cross and the hope of Christianity. Jesus agonized in enduring the nastiest evil that can be thrown at him: denial by his own adored people; abhorrence from the authorities in his own religion; unfairness at the hands of the Roman court; unfaithfulness and disloyalty from his closest friends; the public disgrace of being stripped nude and mocked as outrageous “King of the Jews”; anguish in the agony of crucifixion; and the continuous weight of the lure to despair altogether, to crash these unappreciative beings with shocks of heaven, to recommence with a new race, to assert himself. Instead, Jesus remained there, taking onto himself the sins of the world, keeping himself in position as his foes wreaked their most terrible treatment.[i]
Our faith in a good God is sensible, because Jesus suffered on our behalf, and took the punishment we deserve. He understands what it is to suffer. He has lived there.
The cross was a world-altering occasion where the love and compassion of God dealt efficiently with the immensity of human sin. His death and resurrection show evil is trounced, and death has been slain. Contemplate the many implications of the atonement: Jesus is the Victor, he has paid our ransom, God’s wrath has been satisfied, and Jesus is the substitution for the offenses we have perpetrated.
As if that is not enough, the Christian narrative ends with faith in the future where complete justice will be done, and all evils will be made right. When Christ returns, he will not once more give in to mortal agencies and quietly accept evil. He will come back to deliver justice. The Bible’s definitive solution to the problem of evil is that evil will be dealt with. God will create a new heaven and a new earth for persons God has loved so long and so well. This is the core of our faith in the middle of pain and suffering.
In conclusion, what I’ve just presented to you, and what my wife eventually figured out is that evil is not a thing created by God. A valid complaint against evil cannot be made without the existence of God. God has plausible reasons for allowing evil. And he clearly has a plan to defeat it. All He wants you to do is trust him.
[i] My paraphrase of John Stackhouse Jr., Can God Be Trusted? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 138.