Today is the time to explore one of the most difficult questions: How to reconcile the infinite goodness and omnipotence of God with the evil which exists in the world? It is a mystery, but in the light of God’s Revelation we can touch the source.
The powerlessness of evil: God is omnipotent and at any time He could remove all the existing evils in the world. He could do so, as some propose, by the annihilation of the current, supposedly failed world, and by creating a new one, in which will exist only holy and perfect beings. He could also bring order to the world, forcing evil people to do good, and He could combine all the bonds of mutual love and kindness. In other words, for Almighty God evil does not constitute any problem. For all that, whatever exists is in the hands of God. It is He who sustains every man, good and evil, in their existence. Every man is still completely dependent on Him. It is therefore difficult to say that God, who holds everything in His hand, has a problem with evil. He could sort out evil at one stroke. Evil is, in fact, only a problem for man but not for Almighty God.
Imagine the following situation: the arms suppliers, on whom the army is entirely dependent, rebels against them. So not only do they no longer have weapons, but the ones they have, owned by the supplier, will be taken from them. Evil is in a similar situation with God. All it has, is owned by the Creator, so both its intelligence and strength are gifts of God and are His property. God not only gave gifts, but gives them constantly. God is the Lord of the situation, and not evil. Evil is never creative, it cannot create. If evil were able to create something on its own, then God would have to be reckoned with. But evil has only what it receives from God. Evil is therefore powerless against God and cannot cause Him any harm. Evil does not reach God. The fight between evil and God is a tragic misunderstanding.
The world is very good:
The world created by God is good. I stress that this should not be recognized as a statement in the past tense: not ‘was’ good but ‘IS’ good. Therefore, God does not need to annihilate the world. Here is a simple example: God created good, clean water, flowing into the River Thames. At the moment it is dirty, but that is not God’s fault. If today we would no longer pollute the water and would clean the bed of the River Thames from all that has been thrown into it in the last five years, and perhaps earlier, we would see the bottom of the river bed, and the splashing of the fish. So why should God annihilate this filthy river, since as his work it was good? Likewise, the air that God gives is clean and good. The fact that today we are suffocating in smog, is not God’s fault, but our fault.
Every person, as the work of God is good. Everyone is created in His image and His likeness. The fact that some primitive pseudo artists scribbled over a masterpiece, does not mean that God’s work must be now annihilated. It is enough just to remove the caricature, and again will emerge God’s masterpiece to be admired by the whole universe. All people are good and we cannot blame God for not destroying the wonderful picture gallery just because someone placed some hideous caricatures in it. A wise man will not throw away masterpieces from the fifteenth century, just because someone, ten years ago painted over them with pictures of his own. A wise man will go to the conservator and ask for the removal of the top layer, to reveal the original. The heart of every man is created in the image and likeness of God, and if it is distorted, it is only because his heart agreed to the distortion, placing himself in the hands of bunglers who do not respect God’s work, rather than remain in the hands of the Master.
Evil manifests itself in disorder, in the pollution of the biological and natural environment or in the ruins of the moral life, and man should try to restore it. A new heaven and a new earth will be the world that arises after the removal of all evil. Only then will people understand that the heart has to beat according to the law which God created, because only then will everyone be fully happy and not hurting. Evil appears at the moment when the heart does not want to adapt to the law of God the Creator, according to the order in which it was created. Thereby hurting itself and others.
Bearing in mind these two basic truths, that for the omnipotent God evil is not a problem and that the world which God created is good and does not need annihilation, we need to see the third truth, which I have already mentioned in my earlier letter to you. God, in his omnipotence, however, is restricted by the freedom of us creatures.
God, in his omnipotence, however, is restricted by the freedom of us creatures. If God called to life free beings, He must respect their freedom now. Evil is included in the risk of God’s creation, that a free being will not necessarily work harmoniously with Him, but will begin to act according to his own – sometimes malicious will. A God who created the essence of freedom, must respect that freedom since He cannot act against Himself. If God would force free beings to do good, then he would destroy their freedom. God will never do that, because He is not only powerful, not only good, but also infinitely wise. At the moment when God risked creating free beings, who can operate under their own volition, He started the destiny of the world to misuse that freedom, but by blending in with their great work and taking advantage of human error He works towards larger, grander goals.
The wisdom of God is able to use all the evil that arises among free creatures for their own good. We can briefly say then that the devil is working for God, but not completely aware of it. Again, I will show a simple example: If we throw coal into a fiery furnace, it will be destroyed into ashes. Fire destroys the coal, but as it burns, it produced thermal energy and the stove can warm up and cook a delicious dinner. Now, the operation of evil also consists precisely in the fact that while it is destroying something it does not know what God has planned to come out of that act of destruction, or ‘what He is cooking on the stove’.
We already have a well-defined case in which God used work of evil for the good of man. He came to earth as the Son of God and the greatest gift was surrendered to evil. This evil once ‘put Him to the stove, burned and destroyed Him’. It was just Golgotha. The destroyed Christ was baked like a Lamb on a spit. The triumph of evil seemed to be obvious, but in the meantime it turned out that God gave the Lamb for a feast, offered for millions of people of all generations who will live to the end of the world. Evil did not provide it, evil only destroyed. In contrast, Christ said: ‘Take and eat this; this is my Body.’ So it is always with the action of all evil on earth.
So, in the approach of evil we have to take into account the wisdom of God, which allows for the existence of even the most terrible evil on the earth because He promised freedom to the human being, so if it will happen God can use it for even greater good than that which destroys evil. This is why we can’t say that God left us alone with evil – NO! We, people with free will unfortunately use our freedom in so many horrible ways – and God respect the freedom He gave us, but He is not leaving us alone, He comes again and again and He changes the evil created by us into some good. This is precisely the size of the wisdom of God. Often we experience in life many tragic moments; then under the influence of the painful experience we are falling apart like the precious coal; we are crushed into the ashes. We are experiencing suffering, being destroyed by evil, but all we have to remember is that God is able to use our suffering for even greater good. Following this line of thinking about God’s Revelation gives us the answer to the question: How do we reconcile evil with the infinite goodness and omnipotence of God?
There is a second question that I have mentioned before: How to look at the suffering of innocent children? But I will attempt to give the answer to this question only after discussing with You, my Friends, the love of God, because only then will we be able to focus with clarity. All of these issues combine in one whole. I will come back to this topic to show You the other side, when I will discuss the infinite patience of God. Then in the fullest sense will we discover why God has for years tolerated evil in the human heart.
The Son of God came to earth to show us how to behave in the face of evil, and to convince us that even if the free will of man will do evil, God can use it and change it for our greater good.
With love and prayers and asking for yours, Fr. Marcin