One of the most difficult questions in the world that a Christian must face is the question of a good, loving, sovereign God and the existence of evil in this world. How is it that a good, loving, and sovereign God can allow, and even ordain, evil and suffering of the most extreme magnitude to exist in this world? I have studied much on this issue and have found many helpful truths by careful Bible study, listening to sermons, reading theological book… but at the end of the day, I have to confess that so much of this is beyond my understanding. This is even more so when I, or someone close to me, undergoes suffering. In the midst of grief, the fight of faith is often the most difficult.
However, there is one thing of which I am certain. The only way I can begin to grapple with the problem of evil and suffering is by first coming to the cross of Jesus Christ. There, the same good, loving, and sovereign God became man and entered into the very experience of evil and suffering that we experience in this world.
Edward Shillito was an English Congregationalist minister who survived the horrors of artillery, machine guns, and trench warfare during World War I. As he reflected on his experience, he found peace only when he considered the suffering and death of Christ and he wrote the poem below, entitled “Jesus of the Scars”. As you read this, I hope you also will look to the suffering Savior, and there, find peace in the midst of the suffering in your life.
If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place;
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.
If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.