746) The Will of God

     The problem of evil has troubled people throughout the ages.  The quote above is how the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B. C.) put the question.  Why is there so much suffering in a world supposedly created and ruled by an all-powerful and all-loving God?  How can “this state of affairs be in accordance with God’s will?,” C. S. Lewis asked in his book Mere Christianity, adding “How can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?”  Would not a loving God want to use his infinite power to put an end to all suffering?  The answer has to do with the fact that God has used his will to choose to give us a will of our own.  Lewis went on to say (paraphrased):

Anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another.  It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, “I’m not going to go and make you clean your room every night.  You’ve got to learn to keep it tidy on your own.”  Then she goes up one night and finds the toys and the schoolbooks and the clothes lying all over the place.  That is against her will.  She would prefer the children to be tidy.  But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy.  The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school.  You make a thing voluntary and then half of the people do not do it.  That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.


Romans 1:18-22  —  The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

Romans 1:28-32  —  Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.  They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Joshua 24:15  —  (Joshua said), “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


We beseech you, O Lord, to enlighten our minds and to strengthen our wills, that we may know what we ought to do, and be enabled to do it, through the grace of your Holy Spirit, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.

–William Bright  (1824-1901), British historian