Theodicy--if God is good, all wise, and all powerful, why does so much evil exist in the world? I asked myself that question recently while I was visiting the Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda. I have gathered with family and friends at open graves before and wiped away my tears, but I had never stood beside a mass grave containing the remains of 250,000 victims of a horrendous mass murder. Where was God between the beginning of April 1993 and the end of July 1993? And where was God during all of the other genocides on almost every continent in the twentieth century?
Some would like to argue that we get what we deserve. After all, doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible that you reap what you sow? In the time of Jesus, some suggested that the 18 who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them must have been worse sinners than the other inhabitants of Jerusalem. But Jesus said, (Luke 13:5).* That is not an accurate description of reality. That of God.
Why then is there so much heartache and suffering in the world? Is everything predetermined? Are some predestined to suffer? Predestined to be lost? In this issue of Ministry, we tackle some of these difficult questions. Sometimes we have to learn to live with unanswered questions and simply trust the loving God who so clearly revealed Himself both in the Scriptures and most completely in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ.
In our lead article, Kim Papaioannou challenges us with this startling assertion: If God, through sovereign decisions, predestines some to salvation and some to damnation, then surely He is the ultimate source of sin is a distorted picture of the character and suffering.” --invite you to examine his exegesis of Romans 8:29, 30 and share your feedback.
Daniel Xisto, one of our student writing contest winners from 2011, addresses another important issue related to the theme of suffering. If we are experiencing suffering, should we assume that God is punishing us? And should we repent, even if we are unaware of any wrongdoing? The author of the book of Job describes this man from the land of Uz as “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Why, then, did Job experience so many tragedies in his life? Perhaps the author of the book was mistaken. Maybe Job was getting what he deserved, as some of his “friends” would later suggest. And yet if you continue to read the narrative in Job 1, you will discover this testimony from the Lord Himself: ®ave you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ ~(v. 8).
Job’s friends were mistaken. Job wasn’t receiving a judgment from God that he deserved. He was indeed blameless and upright. Why then did Job repent in dust and ashes after his audience with the Lord (Job 42:6)? Is he repenting of some secret sins or repenting of a flawed attitude toward God? This article will challenge you to think deeply.
You’ll also enjoy part 1 of a two-part series on love and judgment. Perhaps you have met individuals who treasure God’s love, grace, and mercy but struggle with His justice. JoAnn Davidson’s series sheds light on this important topic.
These are just three of the excellent articles in this issue.
Did you remember to visit our Web site, ministrymagazine.org, and request a complimentary digital version of the journal? Every individual with a regular subscription to the journal is eligible to receive a digital version at no extra cost. The registration process is simple. You’ll just need your subscription number from the top of your mailing label. Many have already taken advantage of this additional delivery option. This is just one more way to make these excellent resources even more accessible. A special gift offer is available to you at the end of the registration process. You may also win an iPad mini, to be awarded to one of our digital version subscribers, if you sign up by December 1, 2014. While you’re online, visit our video resource, ministryinmotion.tv, as well.
We pray that you will be blessed as you study and share what you learn with colleagues and members of your church family.
* All verses quoted are from the New King James Version.