Illness, accidents, divorce, rebellious children, war and death. Tragic days and nights, and a future which may look even more disconcerting than what many of us have already experienced — right?
These afflictions speak to our present realities, do they not? That is not to say that joy, happiness, love, benevolence, mercy, kindness and virtue do not exist. But the parallel realities of misery and joy exist side by side in our world, and they often intersect: There are times when we are unsure as to whether we should laugh or cry at the same time.
The great theologian and pastor of the late Roman Empire, Augustine, stated in his book, “The City of God,” that while evil and good co-exist, evil cannot exist apart from the “good.” In other words, evil becomes a departure from that which is good and therefore a perversion of what God originally intended, a departure from God himself. (Genesis 3, Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:11-19)
But the real problem, as I see it, is not why suffering and evil exist in the world — the real difficult is explaining why God the Father would send his only son, Jesus Christ, to die in the place of sinners, rescuing them from the bondage of the flesh, the devil, sin and hell itself? The Reformed faith calls this the “Great Exchange,” and the Scriptures describe it thusly: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Dear Christian reader, please meditate upon this verse from 2 Corinthians — maybe, just maybe, this will assist you in keeping a more joyful perspective as you journey through this sin-drenched world: God has a plan for you in Jesus Christ and is leading you to a place where “He will wipe every tear from their (your) eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Be strengthened and encouraged!
Christianson serves as pastor at Grace Reformed Church in Clarkston.