|Series Theme: Problem of Evil & Suffering|
Title: 4. On the Receiving End of Evil?
series that considers the problem of evil and suffering
This is the fourth of a Series of pages on the problem of evil in the world. This one is slightly different!
If you have read the first three in this Series, it is possible that you are feeling they were a bit theoretical and perhaps don't touch your hurt. If you feel that, it is probably because you've been hurt, and simply rationalising something often doesn't help.
It can set up a framework of thinking and truth for later on, but if you are in pain, reason frequently doesn't touch you. This page is specifically for those who have been hurt by evil in this world.
1. The nature of your hurt
Because we live in a Fallen world (a world that turned away from God and turned to its own devices), we find human beings abusing human beings and generally “things go wrong”. That's just what life is like in this world.
Some reading this page may have suffered personal abuse, whether it be in the form of violent attack, rape, child abuse or theft, or simply the rejection that comes when a partner leaves.
Others may have suffered other forms of evil, like illness, infirmity or an accident which have left you less than the person you might otherwise be.
Yet others may have suffered other forms of calamity such as fire, flood or business collapse, each creating upheaval and chaos.
For others, the form it will have taken will be the death of a loved one, either expected or unexpected, but pain racking whatever. For you, you are left with a massive hole in your life that is filled with black anguish.
Whatever the form the evil took, you are no longer the same person, your feelings have changed, you feel anguish and perhaps a lot more.
If we are in that first group and we have suffered personal abuse, in the short term we feel violated, unclean and fearful. In the long term we suffer anxiety, fear, anger and loss of trust.
Where the crisis was the death of a loved one, there can be pain, anguish, despair, loneliness, isolation, fear and much more.
2. Is there a way out?
Yes, but it may take a while. The old adage that time is a healer is true. Having said that it's not just time, but time plus a variety of other things.
In what follows in this page we've included some of those things and simply being aware of them may help. We hope so.
3. You are unique, but the same
The first thing to realise is that you are you, and the way you respond to what has happened will be different from the way others might have responded, so don't take on board lots of “This is how it will be” advice.
You are you. Don't be afraid to be you.
The next thing to note is that you are a human being, and lots of other people have gone through what you're going through, and there may be people who can genuinely help you. You are not alone. We're here to help if you want it.
4. It's all right to cry
When we get hurt physically we suffer physical pain. Even when it's fairly minor, we jump up and down and express our feelings. When we suffer a catastrophe or a crisis, the emotional pain needs to be expressed even more.
We may need to do that in two ways.
First we may need to cry. It's all right to cry; in fact it's often better that you cry.
At one point in the Bible it says: weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning . What it's saying is that sometimes you need to cry and cry, but there will be an ending to it.
Second, we may need to talk out what we've been through. Today we recognise that someone who has been through a major accident, for example, can suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It simply means that so traumatic was the crisis that we are left with a whole series of symptoms that upset our lives until they are treated. Often part of the treatment involves talking out the event.
5. Therapy Provision
If the consequences of the crisis are ongoing (as they usually are), we need to come to a point of recognising that we need personal help. Now the spectrum of provision for this can vary from professional counsellors to friendship listeners.
If the trauma we have been through has been very great, it may be that we need the help of a specialist who mostly deals with this particular sort of problem.
At the other end of the spectrum you may recognise that you are suffering, but all you need is a friend to listen to you and to be there for you.
6. Leaning on God
Many people in a crisis find themselves praying, and to their surprise finding a sense of the presence of God there.
It may be that you've looked at the first three pages and rejected the thought of God. You've had negative thoughts about Him. May we make one of two comments that might help you in this respect:
6.1 God didn't send the crisis
The crisis may have been caused by our own foolishness (for which we feel guilty), but more probably by someone else's foolishness or unpleasantness (to put it gently and mildly), or simply because things happen and go wrong.
It wasn't God!
How do we know? Jesus Christ was the expression of God in the flesh. Wherever Jesus went he worked against pain, worked against evil and grieved over the pain people suffered. God is here to help, not condemn (see the Series “God's Love for You”)
6.2 Don't try to rationalise it
So often, as we go over the thing again and again in our minds we think, "What if…" or "If only I'd…." but your biggest question may be "Why me?"
There are often no answers to that one. We just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn't anyone's fault, it just happened.
You can't undo the past but you can get help about how you think and feel about it now. We say again, by the example of Jesus Christ, God is there to help you, not condemn you. He's there to pick you up, not put you down.
6.3 God understands how you feel
God stepped into our human experience in the form of the human man, Jesus Christ, and went through what we go through. He suffered tiredness and exhaustion, pain and rejection.
The Cross at Calvary was unjustified and unwarranted. There Christ suffered the most excruciating physical and emotional pain. He knows how you feel, and He's for you.
6.4 Recognise Anger
You may feel angry with God or with another person. God isn't put off by your anger, but you do need to deal with it.
Unresolved anger grows and grows and turns into bitterness, which in turn has a variety of negative workings in us.
You may say it is natural and right to feel angry, and it may be, but until it is resolved in a proper way we need help to deal with it, because until we do it will continue to harm us.
6.5 God loves us
In the midst of your pain you probably feel God is at the opposite end of the Universe - but He's not, He's there for you.
We can't rationalise this or explain it when we're in hurt, but He is there, as many others would testify to, from their experiences.
You could risk this - you could talk to Him and tell Him honestly what you feel - don't worry He already knows but you need to tell Him. You could ask for His help while you're at it - what can you lose?
7. In Conclusion
There are times when this world is nasty - and that is the understatement of the year! It may be people but it can be just things 'going wrong', whether it's our bodies getting sick, planes falling out of the sky or an excess of rain causing flooding.
While God allows such things, He isn't happy with them and, with our co-operation, is there working against them.
We can either struggle against them on our own, or we can go to Him for help, which may come directly from Him or indirectly through other people.
Evil exists because mankind chose to do without God, but God is still on our case and is there seeking to draw us back into a place where we can receive His love and His power again.
We're aware that a series of pages can hardly do justice to this enormous subject, but we hope that some of the things here may be of help to you. If you're still suffering, please don't put up with it any longer - go for help.