Necessary Evil


The oldest dilemma in theology is the question, “If God is all good and all-powerful, how can there be evil in the world?” The formal term for this is theodicy. I certainly don’t plan to offer a definitive answer, but a couple of things happened in the last few days to give me a different take on the question.

A friend offered one possible answer.  He thought that since God is love and wants to show us his love, there have to be problems, or evil, so there is something to help us through.  In a way, this makes sense. We help our children grow the most when we are teaching them or helping them to learn.

Then, while flipping channels, I came across a Discovery Channel documentary called “Two Weeks in Hell.” It shows a testing and training environment for candidates for the U.S. Army’s Special Forces (Green Berets). It was incredible to watch these men being pushed to their physical, mental and emotional limits.

The striking thing was their attitude about the experience and understanding of the need for it. They wanted to be a part of a special organization and understood people had to be tested and pushed to see if they were worthy. Although they were not enjoying it, they were not asking that it be made easier. They knew the trainers/testers had a serious purpose in mind. The tests they endured were necessary and there was nothing pointless or casual about it.

Years ago I was in a church which taught that “the fall” was a necessary step in humanity’s growth. If that was the case, we need to experience the difficulties of this life in order to learn about certain realities.

Apparently, the question is whether we face our challenges as constant complainers or like the Special Forces candidates, recognizing them as a needed process offered by a loving Father as part of our becoming the person He knows we can be.