All of my coworkers are extremely saddened and distraught over the death of my sister Nicole. As co-owner of the business we work in she was our boss. One coworker in particular pulled the old problem of evil card. He—a believer in the existence of God and a nominal non-practicing Catholic—asked how it was just for God to take her and leave her young 5 year old son without a mother. I explained that there are things we just can’t know. It looks one way to us because our perspective is limited but God stands above everything, seeing exactly how all the pieces fit together.
But the bottom line is that my coworker is the type of person that Paul refers to as having a carnal mind, or a mind governed by the flesh, which is to say that he’s hostile to God, or put more strongly, he hates God. He’s looking for a way to feel justified in his rebellion. Had Nicole not had a young son he would have asked how it was just for God to take her so young. Had she been old he would have asked how it would have been just for God to take her so unexpectedly. Had she had a long drawn out illness that resulted in her death he would have asked how it would have been just for God to allow her to suffer for so long.
No matter the details, the unbeliever wants to feel justified in their rebellion. They’re looking for an excuse to hate God. The irony is that evil is only a problem if a good God exists and is Lord over all. Complaining about injustice only has force in a world where there is a universal standard of justice in place. Without a just God who is Lord and judge over all that exists we have no such standard. But if God raises her from death today, tomorrow, or in a thousand years, I wonder what his excuse will be.
The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to warn them about the awfulness of Hades. Abraham replied that they had Moses and the prophets and that if they didn’t believe them then one rising from the dead wouldn’t make a difference. The scriptures contain the antidote to his complaints, but also the medicine for his soul. They contain the message of God’s love. It’s the love of God that changes his enemies into his friends. It’s God’s love for the very people who hate him that makes the difference; that’s the real miracle. God’s love nullifies every excuse.