Every day, someone new contracts cancer or loses a child or has a dear friend backstab him. Every day, new evils arise in this sinful world. Genesis says that when Earth was created, it was “very good.” That no longer seems to be the case. God’s “very good” world is blemished by sin, and now evil lurks in every corner, seemingly invincible. Where does it come from, and is there any escape?
To truly understand the origins of evil it is necessary to travel back to the Garden of Eden. When Eve bit down on that piece of fruit, when Adam took it from her and ate, sin entered this world. God punished them, cursing them with difficulty working and building families; he also cursed the ground, saying to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it for all the days of your life” (Gen. 3:17). Because of this, Romans says, “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth up until the present time” (Rom. 8:22). This world is a cursed place and there is no denying it.
It’s obvious from this that suffering often comes as a result of personal sin. After all, it was Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God that made their lives go from paradise to horror in just a few minutes’ time, and from there, it infected the futures of each of their descendants. This comes out in some suffering today, as well: For example, a man who’s been cheating his company for years and subsequently loses his job brings it on himself. There are plentiful examples of suffering that are obvious and direct results of personal sin, but so often there’s no rhyme or reason to suffering. That’s when the age-old cry breaks loose: “Why, God? Why me? Why this?”
The easiest answer, of course, is the seemingly catch-all line: “For-we-know-that-all-things-work-together-etc.” While Romans 8:28 is absolutely a wonderful, beautiful piece of Scripture, it’s not always the be-all, end-all answer to offer someone in the throes of incomprehensible suffering. Some cling to it like a lifeline; others simply feel more deserted. This is why it’s important to urge the sufferer to cling to God in more than one way in their pain, because it’s usually easier to pick one way or another.
The first way is that God is sovereign over suffering. He will see his people through it. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with [it] he will provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to stand up under it,” says 1 Corinthians 10:13, and the same thing holds true in suffering: while you may be drowning in despair, God still holds on, and because you are His child, he won’t let you go.
But God is also the closest companion of the sufferer. Christ went through the agony of having his Father turn his face away from him. He endured the wrath that his people deserved, even though for eternity he’d done nothing wrong and never would. The pain he experienced is beyond mortal imagination. The Christ who rules over his people and redeemed them also knows their pain. Not only did he die for them, but he lived for them—thirty-three years of ministry when he got tired and hungry and sick and lost family members and was rejected and called names. He has been through everything his people go through, and he still walks with them, closer than any other human companion in the dark of anguish.
The dark the Christian must pass through doesn’t always make sense. It doesn’t always seem to have a reason. But God is sovereign over the dark, and he walks with us through it. No matter how mighty the evil, God is greater. And he will not allow his servants to be lost.