The Boston Marathon and the Problem of Evil

The Boston Marathon and the Problem of Evil

Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

The images on television today were sobering and horrifying.  They were a reminder of something that no one wanted or needed to be reminded of, we live in an evil world.  An explosion happened near the finish line of the Boston marathon and seconds later a second bomb was detonated a few hundred yards away.  Well over a 100 people were injured and at least 3 lost their lives.  It was yet another senseless tragedy.

As I type these words the images are running across the television, one woman is crying in prayer.  Medical personnel are hard at work.  People are crying.  They are bewildered and scared.  The lives of those in that marathon will now never be the same.

When I watched the images the one thought kept coming to my mind, I hope that person on the screen knows Jesus.  The runners, the medical personnel, the families, even the news reporters, I hope they know Jesus.  I hope they know Him for several reasons, I hope they know the forgiveness and the hope that only He can give.  I hope that they know Him so that they have the promise of heaven to look forward to.  I hope that they know Him so that they can turn to Him and cry out to Him, the living and true God.  I hope they know Him so that they might have a church family to find strength from.  I hope they know Him because without Him nothing else makes sense.

I wanted those people to know Jesus, so that they could make sense out of what happened today.  One of the first questions that we ask in the midst of these tragedies is why? And in each case there is a specific why, something that tipped the person, some reason that they did what they did.  The overarching reason however is sin.  We live in an evil world, and whether we want to admit it or not, we as people are evil.  The Bible says that “Jesus knows the evil in man’s heart.”  He knows it, we don’t.  We don’t know the extent of the evil and the sin in our own lives.  As John Owen pointed out in the 1600s we “only know the tip of the iceberg” (I wonder what he would say today).  Evil is everywhere because people are every where.  Evil happens because sin is prevalent.  We live in an evil world.  As Paul says we live in a world “of this present darkness”.  These really are dark times.  Today’s events remind us of that.  But we didn’t need to be reminded of it did we?

So how do we make sense of the evil that we see?  The only way we can make sense is to acknowledge that the reason there is evil in the world is because there is sin in the world.  Sin came into the world in Genesis 3 and death soon followed.  It was not part of God’s plan for the world, and yet it happened.  Sin is here, we see it all around us.  We live in a world of present darkness.  But it will not always be that way.  There is coming a day, when sin and evil and even death will be destroyed.  It will be no more.  Jesus will return and Jesus will set everything back in order.  There is coming a new heaven and a new earth, and on the place there will be no weeping, no crying, no mourning, no pain.  There will be no evil and no sin.  It will all be gone.  People will run on the new earth but they won’t have to worry about bombings when they do.  The only way that we can make sense out of today is to affirm that evil exists because of sin.  To affirm that it is not God’s plan, and to affirm that one day Jesus is going to return and put everything in order.

I’ve always wanted to run the Boston Marathon (even though I don’t know if I’ll ever attempt 26.2 miles), and because of that every time the race is ran I imagine what it would be like to be there.  I’ve done that even today.  I can only imagine the horror, the shock, the pain, and the disappointment that the people must have felt.  But I can’t imagine how they would have felt without Jesus.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a hopeless and scary time like that all alone. 

The Good news is that we don’t have to be.  Jesus has come and made a way for us to have a relationship with God through Him.  We don’t have to go through life alone, we have the promise of a God who says “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  He wants to come along beside of us and help us in the midst of tragedy.  He wants to give us His strength.  He wants to help us make sense of the senseless tragedies of life.   He wants us to know that these senseless tragedies are not His plan.  He wants us to know that He has something better in store for those of us who are His followers.  He wants us to live with the assurance that this world with all of its evil is not our home and one day all of that evil and death and pain will be washed away.  One day the problem of evil will be no more. I’m thankful for that everyday, but perhaps today more than ever.