It’s a question that, if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it one hundred times: Why does God allow evil in the world? Or why doesn’t He just end it all right now? These are not bad questions, per se, but the problem is that the answer is rarely addressed. This subject is avoided or confronted with a quick and unconvincing retort such as “because God does what He wants.” While that is a true statement, it’s not an answer that gives any kind of hope or understanding – because truly, there must be darkness.
Now, before you get up in arms over of a statement like that and write me off as some heretic, I want to share a quote from one of my favorite people of my childhood, Bob Ross. Everyone knows the gentle-voiced, giant-perm, happy-tree-loving PBS painter. He was a meek man and said many a profound thing, perhaps unintentionally, when talking about the joy of painting - the name of his show.
“Dark is what makes white, or any light color show. It doesn't have to be white, it can be any color that's light. But you need that dark contrast to make it jump out and, and sing for you.” – Bob Ross
Bob’s statement resounded down the hallways of my own life, walled in by God’s sovereignty.
So what am I getting at here? Dark is what makes white show. Dark colors don’t create light colors nor are the dark colors created by light ones. If those dark colors never existed, there’d still be white. The fact that there are two different values of color is irrelevant to their purpose or existence. Lamp black when painted beside a cadmium yellow or titanium white gives a great contrast to which the lighter ones are valued for their luminosity. Hear me out; without lamp black beside them, these colors still have the same brightness, but because there has been a dark contrast, they are able to be seen and appreciated more.
Beware you don’t press this kind of example further than it should go. This is not dualism. There is not an everlasting struggle between darkness and light. Light triumphs and has already overcome the darkness. The reality of God and Satan is not based on Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. The devil has been defeated as predicted in Genesis 3:15 when Christ arose victoriously on the third day. (Matthew 28:6)
The answer to the proposed question, why does God allow evil in the world, is found in creation and in the making of day and night. If there was only the sun, sure, we’d know it existed because of it’s effects and benefits from the light it manifests. However, night comes and the light is contrasted by darkness. When that glorious break of day paints the sky a palette of colors like Bob’s, we’re always amazed and so glad to see it. Not convinced? Check Facebook or Instagram – without fail, there will always be a sunrise picture. The sun is seen and appreciated more because of the night’s darkness. I have a feeling, that as depraved humans, if there was no night, we’d eventually forget the sun was even there. We take everything for granted.
“For the invisible things of Him [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they [natural man] are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
There it is, the obviousness of God and His power, His righteousness, His holiness – the very essence of who He is – displayed in creation. But man could not see it. His heart was only darkness, death. (II Corinthians 4:4) Are you still looking for the answer?
There must be darkness to contrast light. There must be darkness to fully understand, to fully savor, to fully value, above all else, the light! The light is there and is evident according to Romans. Thus, God allows the darkness to exist that there might be a means to more fully display His glory in the most supreme and perfect way; salvation through Christ Jesus and eternity with Him!
The darkest of dark acts took place on a hill called Golgotha, the place of the skull, where the perfect Son of God was crucified, without cause or reason. He suffered and bled and died. He was the most unique Person to ever walk this Earth and He stood out because of it. This world was and is darkness. God looked down on the world before the flood and said the hearts of men was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:15) After the flood, this was still the case, though, He vowed never to destroy it in that manner again. (Genesis 8:21) Jesus was the Light of men. (John 1:4) Because the world was in such utter darkness, His life – the light of men – contrasted this darkness. It was stark. It was harsh. His luminosity showed forth with great intensity, so much so, that they hated Him for it.
They (and we) murdered the Light because we did not understand it. (John 1:5) Yet, through this most horrific act ever committed and allowed by God, was the darkness used to multiply and magnify the light! Through the Lord’s perfect, eternal plan, He chose to allow this world to revel in it’s own darkness so that Christ could come and call to Himself a people, in and through the darkness! How would we enjoy such a rich amount of grace had we not been from the deepest pits of darkness raised?
Treasure this fact. God allowed us to be born into depravity so that in time, we could taste and see that His grace was far exceeding better than if we’d have never been formed in darkness. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” II Corinthians 4:6 He chose it to shine out of the darkness. The darkness was there for a purpose.
Could God have chosen another way to manifest the greatness of His glory and grace? Yes, probably so. Nevertheless, He chose these means. This is the reason for an eternal Hell. God’s judgment must be everlasting punishment for darkness because He offers everlasting light and life for those that trust in Him. What is Heaven if God is not savored and there was no other destination? The quote, “the chief end of man is to glorify God,” is only a half-truth. The reality is that the chief end of all things is to be used in the glorification of the Father. This includes the darkest darkness, as it contrasts light and as God reveals our own darkness against His perfect holiness. We see the intensity of His brightness like Saul on the road to Damascus. That’s why God doesn’t simply end all the evil this very moment.
Like Bob Ross quoted, the kingdom of darkness we are translated from makes the light so much more special; it makes it “sing.” When we’re delivered, our eyes are awakened to the realization of how great a deliverance we truly have! (Acts 26:18, Ephesians 1:18) That lamp black brushstroke of the old man makes the titanium white of a new creation in Christ shine! Simply put; we see the Light in a way that we recognize how it is so much different than the darkness.
Make no mistake, God does not need evil. He does not need the darkness. He has not created it. But He allows it to be utilized for the contrasting work of showing forth the greatness of His glory in His precious Son, Jesus Christ! (Romans 11:36)