Theodicy - trusting in the goodness of God

-A A +A
By Al Earley

Over the last three weeks we have looked at the problem of evil. We have seen how the Bible explains evil as rising out of the personified presence of evil that we call Satan, that our world is fallen due to the original sin of Adam and Eve and how the justice of God allows Him to solve the injustice of evil over eternity. Today I look at the most difficult challenge for us: Trusting in the goodness of God no matter what the circumstances in life that we face.

Evil is real! It is not a figment of our imagination. We live in a fallen world which means that life is hard and it is not fair. We face natural evil (tornadoes, lightening storms, etc.), the forces of evil that arise from Satan and evil that grows out of the good gift of our own free will.

The Bible tells us that even though all this is true we can trust God with everything. In fact, because all this is true, it is the only true hope we have in this world and that is to trust God with everything. The Bible tells us to be thankful in all things, the bad as well as the good (I Thessalonians 5:18). It tells us that when we love God, then God caN make all things work for good (Romans 8:28). It tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:37-39).

What this means for you and me is that our faith needs to mature to the point we stop questioning if God is there, why we go through hard times, or does God love us? Instead we learn to trust that God is good all the time, in the bad times and the good. That perfect goodness is a primary aspect of God’s character and therefore we can trust God and His goodness all the time. Do you trust God that much? Here is a story that will test your trust.

A college student was asked to prepare a lesson to teach his speech class. He decided to speak on, “The Law of the Pendulum.” The law of the pendulum is that a pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest.

The student attached a three-foot string to a child’s toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack and marked the movements of the pendulum. Everything went fabulous as he proved this law of motion.

The student then asked how many people in the room believed the law of the pendulum was true and everyone raised their hands including the teacher. Next the student led the class to a room with a 250-pound metal pendulum hanging from a steal beam in the room. The instructor was invited to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with back of his head against a cement wall. Then the student brought the 250 pounds of metal up to the teachers’ nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from the teacher’s face, the student once again explained, “If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger.”

After that final restatement of this law, the student looked his teacher in the eye and asked, “Sir, do you believe this law is true?” There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, “Yes.” The student released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. The student later testified that he had never seen a man move so fast in his entire life as the teacher literally dove from the table (Ken Davis, How To Speak To Youth, pp104-106).

Your life is in the balance. God’s goodness is like the law of the pendulum. Do you trust God’s goodness no matter what? Do you believe that God will use all your life events, the good and the bad for your benefit? Do you thank God in all things? What will it take for you to come to trust God completely with your life?

Al Earley is pastor of La Grange Presbyterian Church. To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see www.lagrangepres.com.