It’s not uncommon for people to complain that they can’t believe in a God that would allow sickness, pain and death, and so they attempt to exile Him from their world and replace him with a meaningless machine of a cosmos; grinding away, day-after-day and year-after-year. As a result, their trials and sufferings cease to be mysteries with greater purpose and instead become only miseries to no end. When the real-life version of “survival of the fittest” shows up on their doorstep, and the random forces of mindless evolution threaten to devour them, there is no comfort to be found in a world that has vanquished a personal God.
Evil is a mystery, but if there is no transcendent God—especially a transcendent God of love—then “evil” turns out to only be a construct of our temporary minds that will soon vanish like every other molecule, to be remembered no more. There is no rhyme or reason for anything; we’re only more molecules in motion. A vague appeal to a “survival instinct” is a pseudo-scientific, worthless replacement for an infinitely wise God. In his Introduction to the Book of Job, G.K. Chesterton observed that: “The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.” When it’s you, or your child, or your friend, you long for a person bigger than yourself. Darwin’s world gives you nothing but a big zero—there’s no one to cry out to. It is what it is; move along; next…
As a finite man I find great comfort in an infinite God. I can’t comprehend Him. If I could then He would be of little comfort to me. He has revealed in the creation and in the Bible that He is good, wise, powerful, and that He loves me. Even my worst trials have ultimate meaning and purpose. I don’t know why He does or allows most of the things He does. As John Piper noted: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” Sometimes I’m a believer by default; because all the alternatives are far worse. At other times I’m a believer because I clearly see His directing hand at work, turning the mysteries into glories. Elisabeth Elliot wrote:
Because God is my sovereign Lord, I was not worried. He manages perfectly, day and night, year in and year out, the movements of the stars, the wheeling of the planets, the staggering coordination of events that goes on the molecular level in order to hold things together. There is no doubt that he can manage the timing of my days and weeks.
And theologian B.B. Warfield reminded us of how the Bible has recorded and preserved the mysterious providential working of God “behind the scenes”:
It was not accident that brought Rebecca to the well to welcome Abraham’s servant (Gen. 24), or that sent Joseph into Egypt (Gen. 45:8; 50:20: “God meant it for good”), or guided Pharaoh’s daughter to the ark among the flags (Ex. 2), or that, later, directed the millstone that crushed Abimelech’s head (Judges 9:53), or winged the arrow shot at a venture to smite the king in the joints of the armor (1 Kings 22:34). Every historical event is rather treated as an item in the orderly carrying out of an underlying Divine purpose; and the historian is continually aware of the presence in history of Him who gives even to the lightning a charge to strike the mark (Job 36:32).