The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
— Genesis 2:15–17
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
— Romans 5:12
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
— Hebrews 12:1–3
This is an age-old question that has been asked for centuries, and will probably continue to be asked. The answer seems to be beyond our mental reach. No matter how much we’re told or how much we learn, we’re just not satisfied with the answers we get—especially when new crises and evils appear daily.
Genesis 1 details the Creation story of the world. God made our world perfect, including creating mankind. God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and gave this instruction in Genesis 2:16–17: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave a choice to obey Him or not. When we choose to disobey God, our choices bring about evil. God didn’t create evil—it’s the result of our sinful choices.
That still doesn’t seem to answer our question. Yes, we have freedom that allows us to choose, but why did our good and loving God allow it? Didn’t He know that some things we’d choose would have evil outcomes? Didn’t He know how much pain we’d endure because of someone else’s actions toward us? Yes. Because He’s all-knowing, He did know and does know. And that makes this whole situation come full circle to where we ask the questions again: “If God is good and loving, why does so much evil exist in the world?”
Evil does exist. But maybe we see and hear about so much evil because it’s what gets our attention. Sadly, whenever we watch or read the news, most of it’s bad. And often, at the end of the newscast, we hear an uplifting, encouraging news story that really does settle us a bit, doesn’t it? We find ourselves wanting more of that kind of news.
As long as imperfect, finite humans occupy our world, there will always be evil, so we may not get an answer that satisfies us. What if we turned our focus from the evil in the world and not only looked for the good, but did our part to usher in hope and restoration as followers of Jesus? What if we spent less time asking questions about why evil occurs and more time offering hope and help to those who are struggling in their own pain? What if instead of trying to understand an ungraspable thing like evil, we did our part to make a difference in people’s lives by serving them and sharing Jesus with them?
Looking for the good and seeking to do good in our world and to the people who reside in it is the part we’re called to play. What we’re looking for, we’ll find. So, let’s look for the good.
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