God’s Presence in the Face of Evil
The concept of God’s omnipotence is, indeed, complex and cumbersome, especially in the context of evil. How can the goodness of God coexist with the evil of this world? Well, it’s not really a question of why God can’t eradicate the malevolence in this world — I think a majority of us believe that he can — it’s more a case of why he doesn’t.
That’s what is so perplexing: Why does he allow the violence, death, and destruction to continue, especially when so many of the victims are innocent? Certainly he is the all-powerful Almighty, but he often appears to be standing on the sideline as a casual observer when we need him most.
I don’t claim to have the answer, but I would suggest that we turn to the Book of Isaiah (55:8) to at least begin the conversation. It is there that God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”
God’s plan and his vision are beyond our purview. Too often we try to “figure him out” or “think like him,” and that often leads to inaccurate conclusions harmful consequences. For example, when my mother lost her third child, a well-meaning neighbor said, “Well, God must have needed another angel.” Needless to say, that brought no comfort or consolation to my mother.
Noted theologian John Cobb also attempts to provide insight with his hypothesis that instead of taking direct action (which he can and does on occasion) God is calling on us to respond in times of trial and tribulation — to provide comfort, encouragement, and assurance to others who are hurting.
It would seem that the ball is in our court right now to do what we can do to respond when evil or adversity enter the picture. We do this in honor of the appeal that God makes to us by reaching out to those in need, knowing that one day, he will return to eradicate all evil and establish a new kingdom in which there will be no pain or suffering, just joy and exaltation.