Summary: In this message, part 3 in the series Love Without Limits, Dave deals with the earthquake in Haiti and the eternal question, "How can a God who loves us allow us to suffer?"
Love Without Limits, prt. 3
Wildwind Community Church
January 17, 2010
It feels like we're sitting in a different world today than the world we sat in last Sunday at this time. Many of us are deeply affected by the news of what has happened this week in Haiti. But the world isn't any different. Before last Sunday the world was just as brutal as it was last week. Remember, before last Sunday there was Hurricane Katrina. Before last Sunday there was the tsunami in Indonesia. Before last Sunday there were wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as there are today. Before last Sunday there was 9/11. And if you go back a little further, I suspect you can find a few other horrific things.
Why does the world feel different to some of us? It's because evil is closer than it was last week. It's more on the minds of some of us and, after that video, perhaps it's more on the minds of nearly all of us. Some of our own Free Methodist brothers and sisters from Clio died this past week. They went on a mission trip with their church. They got off the plane in Haiti and went into the mission center. One hour later, the country was struck by the biggest earthquake to hit the Western hemisphere in 200 years. We live in the shadow of constant unpredictability, of a future that is not guaranteed to us. In times like this, many people ask, "Where is God?"
So let's ask that question, but let's start smaller. Instead of where is God when a catastrophic earthquake rips apart a city and kills tens of thousands, let's ask where is God when I am lonely? Then we can work up from there. Where is God when I am discouraged? Where is God when I can't pay my bills? Where is God when someone I love gets sick? Where is God when that loved one dies? Where is God when a suicide bomber crashes a wedding reception? Where is God when another one crashes into the World Trade Center? Where is God when nations rise against one another in war? Where is God in earthquakes, famines, and tsunamis? Where is God in a world that can't stop asking where he is in every bad situation, and still can't manage to spot him even in the good things?
If you study the philosophy of religion at all, one of the first things you learn is that the argument from evil is considered one of the oldest and most convincing arguments against the existence of God. The argument goes like this.
The Argument from Evil
(1) If God exists then he is all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly good.
(2) If God were all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly good then the world would not contain evil.
(3) The world contains evil.
(4) It is not the case that God exists.
The question of how a good God could allow evil is as old as evil itself. So in that sense, the world HAS NOT changed since last week. It's just that every time we see evil on a huge scale, we're reminded once again of the question.
We're in a series right now about the love of God and perhaps you are wondering what any of this has to do with God's love. Or perhaps you can clearly see that it has EVERYTHING to do with it. For love is the ultimate good, is it not? And in this series, I am not simply claiming that God exists, I am claiming that he IS love, that he IS ultimate goodness. And I am making that claim just days after an earthquake that has taken the lives of tens of thousands of people, most likely including two people right down the road from here in our sister church in Clio. Now anytime you talk about God's love, you'd better be ready to hear objections from people who are struggling to believe that a loving God exists who nonetheless seems to allow evil. But any pastor who's going to stand up THIS WEEK and insist that God loves us is carrying an extra heavy load and had better be prepared to stand up under it. And that's what I hope to do today.
I am not going to do this by advancing forceful philosophical arguments, or by attempting to prove anything one way or another. Instead I'm going to do it by suggesting a different way of thinking about God. The word I want to use as we move into talking today about God is breakable. Today's message is called Breakable God. In order to talk about this idea of a breakable God, I want us to have really two pictures in our minds, both from scripture. Here's the first one: