Why Am I Excited About the Problem of Evil?

To “excite” something is to arouse or to stir up. At least, that is the connotation I am using here. What I mean in saying we are excited about the problem of evil is that we bring it reality or recognition. Another good word is to exacerbate. Yes, that is it. We are exacerbating the problem of evil. Let me try some other synonyms (hang with me please!): In our society today, the problem of evil is accelerated, agitated, amazed, aroused, awakened, electrified, energized, incited, inflamed, irritated, kindled, provoked, quickened, roused, stimulated, taunted, and vexed. Finally, the problem of evil is maddened. Forget exacerbated . . . maddened works better.

We have all been overwhelmed by the news of the shooting in Colorado. At 12:06am last night, I was overwhelmed with excitement as I was sitting in the theater at AMC waiting for the last Batman installment to begin. While I was soaking in joy, others were running in fear from evil incarnate  – a madman bent on ending people’s lives. This is a burden that we have all had to bear as we tremble once again at the reality of the darkness housed in humanity. Beyond this event, the local news has no lack of bad news. On top of the shooting in Colorado, there was a brutal stabbing. The details were gruesome; one person was stabbed over seventy times. There was a young girl kidnapped, with no significant leads. My heart sank as I looked at her parents’ faces as they pled with the kidnappers to return their little girl. A young teen died in a car crash as he was racing one of his schoolmates. Then there were the updates on unresolved crimes and tragedies of the past few weeks.  These were all in my home town. When I turned to Fox News, it did not get any better. The burdens continue to mount. A shooting that took place in another state just off the highway with no leads. The continuing coverage of a tragic shooting where several young girls were shot by a disturbed father who then shot himself. (I have two girls who are in school. What do I do?). Financial pressures across the world are just getting worse. Then there is the continual fear of other nations acquiring nuclear weapons.

All the news is bad news. Not only this, but it is bad news about people I do not know and will likely never meet. At my local church (where I do know the people), there was more bad news. Not too long ago a twelve year old girl hung herself—twelve years old. Her parents are heavily involved in our church. We also had many other funerals within a short period. Then, in my Sunday school class, there were more needs. A prayer request about a mother who has an aneurysm, a father who has cancer, and a baby who was in danger of being born prematurely. My own family has troubles of its own that we add to the list. My mother never recovered from her stroke. Her left side is completely flaccid. Four days ago, she was in a car wreck while riding with my niece. She broke her knee . . . her only good knee. Now we can’t even change her diaper as she has no way to stand at all. My wife’s mom is going through many health problems. Many in my family are very depressed from the heaviness of my mother’s situation and lingering pain of my sister’s death. Not to mention my friends who need salvation, relocation decisions, loss of businesses, and various other issues.

The problem of evil is excited beyond belief. Why do we have so many burdens to carry?

Paul tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). The “law of Christ” in this context seems to be to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39). How am I to bear all of these burdens? Are all these people my neighbors? Are the people suffering in Colorado my neighbors? There is that question again—”who is my neighbor?” To be a neighbor, do I bear all of these burdens? How? It is too overwhelming. If I do attempt to bear them all, they in turn become less significant and I become apathetic. I place my hands in my head and simply say, “maranatha–come Lord Jesus!”

News can be overwhelming. Evil reports are discouraging, depressing, and disillusioning. I believe that in our world today we are blessed with valuable technological advancements in communication that would have seemed nothing short of supernatural one hundred years ago. In the day of Christ, to think of those in Jerusalem having on-demand, immediate access to events in the lives of people on the other side of the Roman Empire would have been unheard of. In order for one in Jerusalem to find out what was happening in Rome, they had to wait weeks or months to get the information. And even then, the information may not have ever reached an individual’s ears had he not been in the “need to know” audience. Certainly, people would have heard if Rome had been sacked, if there was a severe famine in a certain part of the world, or if the Emperor had died or been replaced, but you would not have heard any non-significant information that did not pertain to you. You would not have heard about the kidnapping of a daughter of an everyday Roman citizen, a stolen chariot, or a robbery-murder that took place on the Ephesian Way. This kind of information, if it did reach your ears, would have been irrelevant and, at most, part of a minor rumor mill that died out very quickly. At that time, a person would limit the “headline” news to that which happened in their own neighborhood. Worries and anxieties would be limited to the here and now. For the most part, worries and anxieties would have come from the possibility of future happenings to you, your family, or your immediate community. Your daily news would have come from your community within a certain radius. Within this limited community (your family, neighbors, synagogue/church, work place), you would have had a balance of good and bad news. For the most part, this news would not have been too overwhelming or disillusioning. If there was someone who had a daughter who died of suicide, it was probably the first time you had been exposed to such an occurrence and it would seem very tragic. If you were a good neighbor who desired to bear the burdens of the other, you would have been with the parents that day with your arms around them. The biggest problem you would then have to worry about would be the future. What is going to happen tomorrow? What if one of my children does the same thing? What if my child dies of this disease or that ailment? What if I lose my job, as so-and-so did? What does the future hold?

It is in this context that Christ brings perspective in the great “Sermon on the Mount”:

Matthew 6:31-34 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

“Each day has enough troubles”? This does not sound too encouraging. I would rather have heard Christ say, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. God is going to take care of you.” Or “Don’t worry about tomorrow; for today has enough joys to keep you occupied.” I don’t really like, “Today has enough troubles of its own.” Even worse is the King James translation. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The Greek does not get any better. The word used to translate “trouble” is kakia. The Gingrich Greek lexicon defines this word as “badness, faultiness in the sense of depravity, wickedness, and vice.” Most particularly, in this context it carries the idea of “trouble or misfortune.” Ouch. I don’t like the words misfortune and depravity. I especially don’t like them when connected with the word “today.” In essence, Christ is saying that each day had enough burdens to bear. Within the culture of the day, with the limited news they had, their troubles were sufficient. According to Christ, a person cannot be and, indeed, is not expected to take on any more than they can bear. This includes future evils. “Do not worry about tomorrow.” The theological principle is this: people should not and cannot take upon their shoulders the evils of the future. More broadly, this would teach that people can only take so much burden. If this is the case, while the burdens of the future are a major distraction and cause people great worry and stress, so also is the case with the burdens of those outside our community.

We, as individuals, have a responsibility to take on the burdens of those around us. When we begin to take on the burdens – the evil report – of those whom we have never met and will never meet, we run the risk of becoming so discouraged that we cannot even take on the burdens of those close to us any longer. We throw our arms in the air and cry, “What is the use? What can I really do?”

Now let’s apply this to ourselves. This is the plight we find ourselves in today. I believe it is the primary cause for today being called by many “the age of despair.” We have access to so much information, it creates an overload of knowledge concerning the state of affairs that go on beyond our own community and responsibility. We feel it is our duty to pray for, cry for, and give an answer for the evil report of the entire world. We feel as if we are doing something good if we have a good day and are able to do this. But this is not often the case; it can eventually make us useless in bearing any burdens and dealing with the problem of evil at all.

At this point, we can easily become disillusioned by the problem of evil in an unnatural and imbalanced way. When we are overly excited about the evil around us, our worldview becomes imbalanced and distorted, as does our view of God.


  • I am not saying that everyone should quit watching the news, but be careful. If it causes you to worry, become disillusioned, and go into despair, maybe you should consider slowing down or stopping. Just be careful what and how much you take in, as it can alter your worldview. The shooting in Colorado is not something we turn a blind eye to, but we must realize that it is outside of our community and, in principle, something that we are commanded by Christ to take off our shoulders.
  • Your primary stewardship is with your immediate community, which is made up of those you actually know and have a relationship with. Always seek to bear their burdens.
  • This does not mean  we don’t care for or do what we can for those on the other side of the world. Paul went from church to church seeking help and relief for others. I think we have a responsibility to those who live in impoverished nations and catastrophe-stricken states. We need to do what we can to help relieve their suffering and pain. But, at the same time, we need to keep focus on stewarding the responsibilities God has given us in our immediate context. There is only so much you can do.
  • Keep in mind that today does not have more bad news or evil report than any other day in the history of the world; we just have more access to this bad news. Don’t lose perspective.
  • For every evil report, there are countless incidents of heroism, joy, success, comfort, and redemption that are taking place all over the world. The “breaking news stories” that the local and national news deem worthy of reporting are not balanced (and I don’t know how we can expect them to be–so don’t use this blog to go picket CNN!). They won’t tell of the countless people at movie theaters that did not get murdered. They won’t tell you about the billions of people who survived  car crashes. They most certainly are not going to tell of the redemption of countless people who have accepted the truth of the Gospel or who found their way out of depression through the loving gracious embraces of others. There is no news station that has access to the heavenly realm to make the report that God is still on the throne and has a plan for everything that happens. They are not going to tell us of the angels rejoicing when a sinner repents. Don’t let the news dictate your understanding of the big picture–no one has access to it outside of Scripture.
  • How long is your prayer list? Many times we feel that we have to pray for every problem we hear about. When this happens, the result will be insincerity. Because of this, we will stop praying so much for others and, as a result, be weighed down with undue guilt. I am not saying to stop praying for others as God leads, but to keep your prayer list responsible and realistic.

Let us read the words of Christ once more:

Matthew 6:31-34 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think I should be excited about the shooting in Colorado. While I can do nothing about the awareness I now have of this event, I can keep myself from worrying about it. The seemingly cold reality is that I am commanded not to worry about it . . . I have enough troubles of my own and so do you.

11 Responses to “Why Am I Excited About the Problem of Evil?”

  1. know what your trying to say lol, but still not sure “excited ” is the appropriate word. Its a little abrasive.

    Josh Mann

  2. There is so much evil, and heartbreak, and tragedy in this world.

    If we had the ability to take it ALL in at any given moment it was literally drive us mad.

    We only have one sure hope in this sin-soaked, pride-soaked, evil infested world. And that is the one who died for it.

  3. Good post, Michael. When I was younger, I allowed myself to be too “excited” about problems all over the world. A situation made worse by a missions trip I took to Romania to serve needs in orphanages. My inability, then, to separate suffering across the world from the daily struggles closer to home drove me to despair and clinical depression. Today’s technology has been a life-saver for many people, but, sometimes, the information tsunami could be called a bane (no Dark Knight pun intended) of our day.

  4. I understand what you are trying to get across, but the headline is in very poor taste because it misleadingly plays on the most common sense of the word excite. There are twelve grieving families that lost a family member who don’t need sensationalistic bloggers playing off of their personal tragedy.

  5. You are right about the title. It is in poor taste. Thank you all for the wise council. There is a time when provocativeness goes too far and could hurt people. I am changing it due to the council you all have given.

  6. Like Steve Martin said above,

    It’s too much for one person. I think this was also part of the suffering of Christ especially in the Garden…..He couldn’t just localize or compartmentalize. It WAS all his business, he was taking responsibility for it ALL. Feeling all the grief, the depression, the terror, the disappointment, the betrayal, and so on……all the heartache of the world on his shoulders, on his heart.
    It’s yet another thing to respect about our Lord…what a “man” he is.

  7. Nice edit with the title. I didn’t mean to be too harsh with my initial comment. It’s just one of those situations we don’t want to trivialize in any kind of way (or even be misperceived as if we’re trivializing).

  8. Good on you for the title change…

    Still, rather odd logic in the first paragraph. Yes, “excite” can mean to stir up. But what is the connection between your being excited (passive) and somehow this becoming you exciting the problem of evil. I’m missing the logical nexus. Not sure there isn’t some equivocation game going on.

    So when the evil in the world stirs us to grieve, if we grieve too much, we are contributing to the problem of evil?


  9. Know wonder God hates sin so much, He can see all of it.

  10. I think I understand what you are trying to say.
    Excited because it was not you who was at the movie theater when James killed them.
    You have the right and be excited!


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