The Problem of Evil: What Do Angels See that We Don’t?

While browsing my Twitter feed this morning, I ran across an article from Trevin Wax over at The Gospel Coalition. It particularly piqued my interest because I had been in a long-running discussion with about a dozen atheists on Twitter over the weekend. (I was going to call it an ”argument”, but for the most part we were all cordial to one another.) One of the topics we discussed was “the problem of evil.”

Why is there evil in the world? Why did God proceed with the creation if He knew it would eventually be marred by evil? One participant in the discussion asked: why doesn’t God just destroy Satan since he rebelled and screwed everything up for all of us? (I counter-proposed: why doesn’t God just destroy all of us since we’re all sinners and keep on screwing things up?) Why did God let us have “free will” if he knew we would abuse it? Is God really in control (or loving, or good) if innocent children are suffering from hunger and dying from untreated diseases?

The questions were exhaustive.

The answers, unfortunately, were not.

Though I doubt this will silence questioning unbelievers (or questioning believers, as it were), Trevin Wax makes a plausible case for the angels holding the key to the answer of the question of evil. Here’s a bit of backstory:

In 1 Peter 1:12, the apostle tells us the angels long to look into the gospel reality we experience. We don’t know why, but God chose not to provide salvation for the fallen angels. They fell and remain fallen.

But the innocent angels, those who didn’t bow the knee to Satan’s schemes, those who didn’t join the heavenly revolt against the Maker of all things – they look wistfully at the experience of redemption that we know through the gospel. 

Basically, the loyal angels see something in the great drama of history that we do not see right now. They see something wonderful, beautiful, and glorious in God’s redemptive plan for mankind. Despite the evil in the world — which they know very well, as they are engaged in the fight against it — they are not perplexed by the problem of evil. They see something else – something other than what human reasoning has the ability to conjure.

An angel -- Does he see the victory that we can't?

An angel — Does he see the victory that we can’t?

Wax goes on to explain (and this is beautiful):

In other words, there is something greater about being fallen and raised again than merely being innocent.

There’s something more beautiful about redemption than innocence.

There’s something more attractive about grace to the undeserving than reward for the meritorious.

There’s something more amazing about restoring peace to a shattered world than maintaining peace in pristine conditions.

When I read this, my heart did a little dance — okay, it did a big dance. There is something beautiful, glorious and poetic about redemption. There is something ethereal about being fallen and being raised back up, being a sinner and being forgiven, being dead and being made alive.

The heroes we cheer for the loudest are not the ones who never stumble, who never fall flat on their faces and grovel in the dirt. Rather, it is the ones who tumble into the bowels of darkness and wrestle with devils and dragons with no hope of coming out alive, and yet — somehow — they rise again. And as they stand in the victor’s circle, with dirt on their body, blood on their arms, open wounds on their back — they hold a golden trophy high in their hands — and we see something beautiful.

Is that God’s vision of us? Is that how He sees us? Broken, bruised, and bloodied by sin — but still standing tall and victorious on the foundation of His amazing grace?

Perhaps it is true: Only those who experience this fallen world can appreciate the perfection of Paradise. Only those marred by sin can know the full beauty of innocence remade. Only those who know darkness can truly know light. Only those who know evil can know good. Only those who are lost can be found.

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