By Darryl Budge
Looking at the vast expanse of stars on a clear night, it is hard not to marvel at the stunning beauty of exploding balls of gas situated far away from our perfectly situated Earth.
In the wondrous balance of rotating seasons, we gasp at the beauty of freshly laid snow on majestic mountains reflected on a glassy lake and gaze serenely over the hot African savannah dotted with trees, birds and wild beasts sipping at waterholes.
Yet on these same vistas we mourn the deaths of a snow-buried skier, a drowned young child, and the violent end of a mountain goat, impala, or baby elephant by a predator.
The beautiful yet marred nature of the Universe is a curious contrast that requires us to ponder on the meaning of life, evil, suffering and death.
Does suffering exist to bring our attention to beauty, or vice versa?
Is the possibility of evil necessary to bring our attention to that which is good, to seek after pure goodness?
Most beliefs in the world attempt to explain suffering as either an illusion, deserved (e.g. cosmic justice or Karma), meaningless, or bad cosmic luck.
If these answers are true, can they explain why we mourn over suffering?
What is the origin of our inner moral compass and its orientation towards moral goodness that motivates us to mourn suffering and unselfishly counter it with kindness?
Those who do not believe in God's existence ultimately ascribe to the idea that people are soulless products of a random process.
If our minds and choices are chance configurations of matter and chemicals, then why are we so un-robotic and purposeful in wanting to save people and animals from suffering?
Why do we have emotions if we are mere 'atoms in motion'?
The Bible says that God made the universe originally free of all suffering, and He is perfectly kind. We can choose to be kind and unselfish because we are created 'in His image'.
When we desire to ignore and rebel against God, just as Satan and Adam and Eve chose in the beginning, we are separated from His perfection.
To alert us to our imperfect state before Him God justly subjected the universe and mankind to the moral imperfection of suffering. Our actions have contributed to it ever since Adam and Eve rebelled.
But God in His love for mankind promises to bring every person who submits to the Lordship of Jesus into a future perfect universe with Him forever.
As you ponder your place and purpose in this cosmic conflict between kindness and cruelty, which side do you wish to be on?•