Evil is both a problem for academic philosophers who wrestle with God’s existence and a problem for individuals who wrestle with the pain and suffering they endure. The two groups overlap (what academic philosopher has lived a life untouched by evil), but I have little patience for the academic problem.
Many times when someone brings up a specific example of evil that he feels invalidates God’s existence, he admits that he is not personally trying to eliminate the very suffering he finds so repugnant. It is difficult for me to respect that.
In addition, as Stonestreet points out in his article, a person who uses the problem of evil as a philosophical argument must provide a rationale for the existence of evil. In a materialistic world, what gives a person the right to say something is evil? I am not asking about behavior; I am asking about rational justification. The bottom line is that a person must borrow from the Christian view of the world in order to criticize the Christian view of the world.
The personal problem of evil moves me at an emotional level. What Christian has never questioned the way God orders the events in his or her own life when pain and suffering come? However, I will continueto hold a view of the world that allows me to call human pain and suffering“evil.” In Christianity, all people are made in God’s image. All people have intrinsic worth. Evil is “real” evil, not just imagined evil.This is a help to me emotionally. Evil becomes an enemy that I can combat.
Why does God allow evil in certain circumstances? I have no idea. I know that humans as sinners do not deservea painless existence. I know that my own sins qualify me for nothing but hell if I face God on my own merits.However, the main balm to my emotional pain is the sufferingof Jesus Christ. God in the Person of Jesus Christ came to earth with a mission to endure the greatest pain and suffering imaginable. He suffered many of the specific types of pain that I have had to endure (rejection by friends, having people misunderstand Him because of the message He was to deliver, etc.). He also endured the wrath of God the Father on the cross for the sins of the world (John 3:16).
I know of no other religion that has a conception of a God who would suffer. All other gods stand aloof from the world and never enter its pain. The Christian God is one I respect.