Early in this school year, I had a chance to sit down and read I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship. You can somewhat tell what the book is about based on the subtitle. I enjoy reading biographical sketches like this, especially if it’s authors that I am familiar with through their scholarship. This was the case for about half of the authors, the other half being those I had no first hand experience reading.
What I wasn’t expecting was several different authors commenting on the problem of evil. In their own way, each more or less said the same thing: there is no answer, it’s simply a matter of faith. If this insights wasn’t coming from scholars who’ve wrestled with Scripture their entire life, I probably wouldn’t have put much stock in it. Because of the source, I considered it more seriously, and I think it is a more or less correct assessment.
This is not to say I don’t think there are good arguments against the usual logical problem that is brought up by people like Richard Dawkins. Logically, the problem is with the atheist who has to figure out a satisfactory way of categorizing something as evil in the first place. Pastorally though, everyone has to deal with the reality of evil and ultimately that is a matter of faith.
We’ve been talking about faith recently in my senior Bible class since we’re in that particular section of An Infinite Journey. In the previous section we discussed the role that experiential and factual knowledge play in the Christian life and how we need sound doctrine and godly examples to help us become more Christ-like. As we entered into the faith section, I found out that a close friend of my wife’s family lost her husband unexpectedly.
I tend to find things like this sobering from an outside perspective. The husband, Patrick, was roughly my age and in good health. While they thought it was a brain aneurysm initially, the autopsy revealed no clear medical cause. He simply died at his desk at work on a Tuesday morning. When I learn of something like that, especially in this case, my first thought is that it very well could have been me and I’m reminded that there’s no guarantee of tomorrow, much less the rest of today.
My wife took things a lot differently. Mainly this was because it is her family’s friends and she knows Brittany (the wife) much better than I do. Also, it puts her in the position of thinking what it would be like to lose me unexpectedly, and what it would be like to become a widow with three small children while still in her 20’s (something that requires financial assistance to say the least, you can help here). She also immediately felt the problem that this evil caused and wondered what good could come of something like this.Thankfully, Ali’s schedule allowed for her to travel to Atlanta for the funeral that weekend. There, she was able to see what God was doing through Brittany and her family in the aftermath of this crisis.
As I shared in chapel last week, Brittany’s testimony in the video is what relying on Christ and having faith in the midst of evil looks like. It is one thing to read about what faith is in Scripture or to understand how God can still be sovereign if evil things happen. It is another thing to see a godly example in the face of real suffering and evil. In order to grow, we need sound doctrine and godly examples, and Brittany’s faith shines through in the most clear way possible.
Although she didn’t know it when this video was filmed, there would be over 500 people the funeral, many of whom were Patrick’s co-workers (he was a corrections officer). Since her boys were so young, they wanted people who came to fill out a comment card about the impact that Patrick had in their lives. 60 or so of the people who filled out cards said that they met Jesus that day because of Patrick’s life testimony and the gospel that was shared in the service. While that doesn’t bring Patrick back, he would have gladly given up his life for those 60 people to come to Christ if given the option. That again is a godly example to live by, one that challenges me just as much as Brittany’s. Watching her walk in pain and suffering has strengthened both my and Ali’s faith, and hopefully it can do the same for you.