There comes a point when there is no longer a way to avoid the difficult question, “Why is there evil in the world?” Whether or not our children and students verbalize it specifically, they will be wondering. How will we answer a question that so many great thinkers and theologians have debated for centuries? I think this explanation by John Piper is extremely helpful:
…the reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is to make a place for Jesus Christ the Son of God to suffer and die for our sins. The reason there is terror is so that Christ would be terrorized. The reason there is trouble is so that Christ could be troubled. The reason there is pain is so that Christ could feel pain. This is the world God prepared for the suffering and death of his Son. This is the world where God made the best display of his love in the suffering of his Son.
Romans 5:8, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” All his suffering was the plan of God to reveal redeeming love to us. The sovereignty of God, the evil of the world, and the love of God meet at the cross of Christ. Listen to this amazing statement from Acts 4:27-28 about God’s plan for the suffering of his Son—for you!
“Truly in this city [Jerusalem] there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”
All the scheming, all the flogging, all the spitting, all the beating with rods, all the mockery, all the abandonment by his friends, all the thorns in his head, all the nails in his hands and feet, the sword in his side, weight of the sins of the world—all of it according to God’s plan. For you to see God’s love more graphically.
(“Where Is God?,” sermon delivered September 11, 2005, from www.desiringgod.org)
Even a young child can begin to understand the main point of Pastor Piper’s explanation with the following simple illustration: If you want to show your friends how really bright your new flashlight is, will you turn it on in a really dark room or outside in the daytime?
Here is an excellent video from Igniter Media that visually illustrates Acts 4:27-28.
(Cross image courtesy of Africa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)