A while ago my mother said to me in a given context: „Son, I want to ask you something: Does God not see what these people do? How can the earth bear them, being so evil?” Our conversation referred to someone who had influenced our lives in a negative way and who we knew that had hurt other people as well. He was a person who had been in a leadership position for a long time and became more and more relentless over time.
Two weeks ago I attended my grandfather’s funeral in the countryside and one of my uncles, who was suffering injustice by his younger brother, told me: ‘Claudiu, will you tell me, is this what the Bible says? That one should trample on his own brother and take away everything he has? Where is the justice here? Does God not see all this?’
I have also asked myself the same question many times and sometimes I would stumble and fall into despair. Is God asleep? Why does He allow for someone to hurt other people so badly, repeatedly, for years in a row? Why don’t they get punished? Why doesn’t anyone stand up to them?
Theoretically, I understand that people are free and that God gave them this freedom and they will receive payment for the choices they make. But still, the world is permanently and every second of the day watched, protected and led by God, and yet, it sometimes seems like He doesn’t intervene, although He could.
As I was reading Chapter 2 from the Epistle to the Romans today, I came across the following verses:
‘Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.’ (Romans 2,1)
Should we stop judging, should we close our eyes, is this the solution? No, it is not! This is not the answer to the question in the title, the following verse is:
‘But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.’ (Romans 2,2)
So, even if we are filled with indignation at the evil around us, we must be aware of two things:
- We ourselves do the evil that we blame others for
- God will judge each man fairly when the time is right and nobody can deceive Him.
There is one more very important thing. Let us imagine that I would be in God’s shoes starting tomorrow and that I would rule the world for a year. What would I do? I would be more trenchant against evil, I would presumably nip it in the bud…
Yet we forget that aggressive measures bring a temporary solution, but constraint does not turn evil into good, only love and forgiveness have the power to do that. In His ruling the world, God does not only use punishment and constraints, instead He uses plenty of mercifulness and forgiveness as well, tolerating and waiting for people to become aware of the evil at some point and for them to change.
If I were to rule the world instead of God starting tomorrow, I would surely not have such patience and understanding as He does with each and every man, knowing their every hidden thought in their hearts. Here is what Paul the Apostle says next:
‘Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?’ (Romans 2, 3)
This indignation of ours regarding evil people is also a consequence of our very weak power to forgive and to have patience towards those who hurt us.
Why does God tolerate those people who hurt others so badly? Because He has the power to do that, because He is void of passions and evil and nothing inside Him urges Him to cast revenge.
Our indignation also comes from our inability to do something in order to solve the problems. God sees the evil done by others and He does have the power to neutralize its effects and nothing stands in His way of arranging everything instantly. Yet His patience and forbearance have a very wise pedagogical purpose, beneficial for the entire humanity.
Our indignation regarding the fact that God doesn’t punish the evil ones is indirectly a disdain for the richness of His kindness, of His forbearance and great patience.
His Eminence Bartolomeu Anania said while commenting on this verse: ‘God’s goodness is not a divine weakness, but the chance given to man to improve himself.’
Here is what Paul the Apostle says next:
‘But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed.’ (Romans 2,5)
And in case we fear that God doesn’t know what happens and does not repay, Paul says:
‘Who will repay each person according to what they have done: to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life, but for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.’ (Romans 2, 6-8)
There is one thing we all should be aware of: those who do evil and don’t repent, will not only end up in the hell of eternal torment, but they also bear the consequences of sin in their hearts right after they commit it: ‘There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile’ (Romans 2, 9)
And those who do good will not only inherit the kingdom of heaven prepared for them ever since the creation of the world, but they also receive God’s grace in their soul immediately, which brings joy and peace: ‘but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.’ (Romans 2, 10)
And the conclusion of this speech is clear at the end:
‘For God does not show favoritism.’ (Romans 2, 11)
That is, God does not show favoritism to anyone, He is kind and just and desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
In order to better understand this topic, we can reread the parable with the man who planted the good seed in his garden but his enemy came that night and planted tares and the tares grew and started to choke the good seed.
Upon his workers’ proposal to pull out the tares, the master refuses, arguing that by doing that they might also pull out the good harvest. When He explains this parable, the Savior says that the good seed are the sons of the kingdom and the bad seed are the sons of the evil one.
Their cohabitation should be beneficial for both of them; the evil ones should follow the example of the good ones and repent, and the good ones should grow in virtue, being put to the test by their relationship with the evil ones.
Why does God tolerate the people who hurt others so badly?
Because He loves the evil ones and shows them love in order to make them repent for their mistakes.
Because He can give the good ones the power to overcome the suffering caused by the evil ones.
Because God can take the greatest evil and turn it into an even greater good.
Because God moves in a mysterious way which is difficult to understand and memorize by us.
Because only Christ has the power to love His enemies.
And we can do the same only through Him, through God’s grace which we receive as a gift.
Translated by Claudia