Replying to Epicurus
One upon a time, about a decade ago, I lost my way. I’d been struggling to find solid ground while balancing too many spinning plates. Picture “Cat in the Hat” precariously teetering on that ball, wiggling that fish bowl atop the rising stack of umbrellas and books. After a particularly heartbreaking disappointment, on top of discouragement and confusion and difficulty in what seemed like a hundred circumstances, I sat beside a river in Colorado and threw a knock-down, drag-out temper tantrum with God. I was knocked down and He had to drag me out of there.
“This is NOT good, I shouted to the emptiness. And You promised me good. Are you even good? Are you even there?”
I’m so glad that my God welcomes hard and challenging questions, aren’t you? Sometimes the Church isn’t so great at that, but at least He is.
Several minutes passed in silence. The river’s trickle the only sound. He didn’t respond.
I wrote it in my journal and swiped away a flood of tears, sniffing back the congestion building in my sobs. After what seemed like a very long time, my crying slowed to a trickle.
And then I heard Him, tender and strong. “I define GOOD, because I invented it. And I made you, so I get to decide what’s good for you. I know you don’t feel good now, but you’ll see. This is good.”
It would be several years later when I would understand. The person I was searching for but didn’t find that day by the river was my dad. We’d been estranged for a long time, and I just wanted to hug him and know he was okay. What I didn’t know was that my dad was still getting his life back together, and that had I found him then, it would have been toxic for us both to try to be in one another’s lives. We might have drowned one another, trying to stay afloat.
Later, once he was stronger, God did let me find my dear ol’ dad in a sweet reunion, and Friend, let me tell you, it was so dang good.
If we were sovereign, we would be God, but we are not, and consequently, we don’t decide.
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”-Epicurus
God is able to prevent evil. He withheld and then bestowed permission to Satan to smite Job. He wiped out the entire human race, save Noah, because of how evil it had become with a global flood. He is omnipotent.
He is willing. He rescued an entire race of Jews from an evil pharaoh with a series of 10 plagues. He is not malevolent, and no human is His judge.
He is both able and willing, according to His own definition of “goodness,” which as Creator of all, He has the authority to define. Evil cometh by His sovereign allowance in order to preserve the free will of humans, and in order to demonstrate the difference between good and evil so that the same free will should bend toward Him and away from evil.
He is able to supersede free will and its proclivity to evil, but is not willing to do so. In His love He chooses to allow humans to either reciprocate His love or reject Him for eternity, a decision that we retain for as long as we hold onto mortality. Though He could revoke free will and thereby eradicate evil, He chooses not to. This is why we call Him God.
A lot of people are asking hard questions about God and Church lately, and I don’t think it’s just the people in my sphere. This global pandemic has a lot of us wondering. There’s a new movement of “deconstructing Christianity” and another movement that’s simply “walk away from God” because of one reason or other. Here are a few I’ve heard recently:
- The church is corrupt, and I can’t take it.
- My pastor is _____ and I just left.
- I just want Jesus; Christians are nothing but homophobic hypocrites.
- Church culture was harmful to my faith.
- Why would I attend church again? I can just watch sermons online.
I want to encourage you, Sweet Reader, to hold on to truth. Before you draw conclusions or make assumptions, go directly to the source and ask the hard questions. Epicurus wasn’t wrong for asking those difficult questions, but he hadn’t gone to the Source to hear the answers. Instead, he drew his own conclusions based on the incomplete philosophical theories of his society.
God IS good, I promise. He IS powerful, I’ve seen it. He DOES love you, I guarantee it.
Today is a special Thursday (when Jesus washed feet and broke bread). Tomorrow is a special Friday (when Jesus took a whip, thorns, and nails into His flesh, then breathed His last). Saturday is a special Sabbath (when Jesus ventured into the deep). Sunday is the most victorious of days (when Jesus breathed once again). What once seemed like the worst tragedy became … you guessed it … good.
So, you’ve got some dirty bath water. Go ahead and toss it. Just be sure to hold on tight to that baby.
If you haven’t already, please add your email to my “subscribe box” so that I can keep sending you hope. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it would benefit you.
Love from my Nest,