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Of all the questions that have plagued humankind, of all the questions that have demanded an answer, perhaps there is none greater than “Why Evil?” Why is there evil in this world? The question is asked by people who profess a religious belief as well as those who disavow any notion of deity. For the Christian, the “Problem of Evil” is troubling a puzzle because it can shake the very foundation of faith and belief in God.
The Problem of Evil is expressed as follows: If God is good, and if God is all powerful, why does he allow evil? Why do bad things happen? Why are there earthquakes? Why is there cancer? Why wars and genocide? Why do we have to deal with so many tragedies? And so the problem is, either God is not all-powerful, and therefore allows evil, or He is not all good and therefore is responsible for the evil. The are other questions which are related and follow: why does evil happen to innocent people? Why do the good suffer?
Today we will look at the problem of evil, and build upon the themes that we have been exploring during the Lenten Journey, especially along the lines of our Parable of the Judge and our need to pray unceasingly. We keep in mind that on this 30th day of Lent we understand ourselves to be in a process of maturing and growing spiritually. Things look differently today. Things are understood differently today. Putting away our preconceptions, we open our heart to an answer that is coming to us from the definition of God being love.
In yesterday’s journey we were challenged to make our prayer life real. God is not some Santa Claus/Superman type of person to whom we can give our list of demands and wants. Rather, we submit by saying “Thy will be done…” or “Let it be Your will that is actualized in and through my life.” In so doing, we accept a new responsibility, a more mature outlook on our life and our surroundings.
The Christian is called to a life of responsibility. If someone else is in charge of your life, you cannot take responsibility. If it is someone else who is doing your work, it is not your fault when problems occur. But, the Christian stands firm and says, “It is my doing. I accept the love that God has given me in my heart and therefore I need to act on that love.”
Prayer is a conversation with God and also a conversation with the self. This is the idea of meditation, of secluding oneself, getting away from everything and really having that honest conversation with the self. What is it that I need in this life? Who am I? What special talents do I have that I can use and perhaps even exploit?
Now let’s move over to evil, because if I am in charge of my life, how do I explain the big evils within life? That is, what about those things over which I am completely powerless? Earthquakes that take away villages and towns where thousands upon thousands are destroyed? What about the evils of famine and war? More closely, what about illness that devastates families and relationships? I am completely powerless. And as much as I pray about them, I know they are not in my hands. How can I effectuate the change upon these big issues or upon the evils which occur on a grand scale? True, they are not individually in our hands, but this is where the power of the collective, of the Church, comes in.
We believe with Christ, all things are possible. We believe that love is more powerful than evil. Where is love going to manifest itself to this magnitude, but in the body of Christ? Two thousand years ago we had the example, we had the manifestation, we had the incarnation of Love. We touched that incarnation, and in so touching, we were healed. That Incarnation was taken up to a crucifixion and we witnessed a resurrection. If we accept this, then we have to also accept the entire package. The package says, “I am with you to the end of the ages.” In that package we understand – as Jesus says, “Have courage. The victory is mine” – we too, are worthy and capable of resurrecting from our crucifixions and can now have a different understanding of events in our life. In fact, earthquakes, hurricanes, catastrophes, illnesses, cancers – they are not the end. They are the crucifixions that we endure just as the Son of God endured. God did not prevent that cancer, that earthquake, that hurricane from trying to destroy love. Evil did try. But evil is all around. It is not a question of combating evil with more evil. It is a question of enduring and overcoming evil with only one power, the only power that we have – with love.
In enduring, we find the resurrections in our lives. We see that generations are built upon love that cannot crumble, that cannot be destroyed neither through earthquake nor famine nor through the cancers of evil, hatred, bigotry that are all consuming. You see there is evil in this world and God allows it even upon the cross. Does that make God powerless? We will look at that question was we continue our Lenten Journey during this season of prayer as we look at our prayer lives, as we look at the idea of evil and the power of love.
Today we conclude with a different type of prayer. It is an inspirational message. It is something I found a few years ago that brought a lot of comfort to a patient, and I wish to share it with you today. It has many applications, please use it accordingly as a prayer in your lives. It is entitled, Cancer is So Powerless.
Cancer is so powerless,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot destroy peace, kill friendship, suppress memories, silence courage, invade the soul.
It cannot steal eternal life.
We confirm this by saying “Amen.”
Confirm by pronouncing the real power: Love.