Luke 1:1; 3-4 - Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us ... it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
I was visiting with a young man—I'll call him Stephen. Over the course of a year, I visited him and his family at the children's hospital. Stephen was in the eighth grade and was suffering from leukemia. We prayed for his recovery, and there were moments when it looked like the Lord might spare him. But, in the spring of that year, he died.
During this time, I was serving as a pastor and studying for my doctorate degree. My dissertation research focused on Christian hope and the problem of evil. You can visualize the problem of evil like this: imagine you're trying to carry three very large glasses of water in one hand. If you're careful, you can balance two. But, when you try to carry all three at once, they spill. The problem of evil is like that. It's three very large gulps of biblical truth. The First Truth is that God is loving. The Second Truth is that God is all-powerful. The Third Truth is that evil exists. In my research, I read many books about the problem of evil. Often, an author would try to solve the problem by setting aside one of those biblical truths. Very few set aside the truth about God's love. They'd be more likely to deny the existence of God than to suppose that God Himself were evil. Some set aside the truth about God's power. They put limits on God's power, explaining how there are some things even God can't help. Or they set aside the truth about evil. They explained or tried to explain how all evil is necessarily part of a greater good.
While I was visiting Stephen at the children's hospital that year, I had these books on my mind-ancient and modern, philosophical and practical deliberations about evil. And on the brief walk from the elevator to Stephen's room, every one of those explanations failed me.
One afternoon, I was so overwhelmed with this problem, I took a break from my studies. I went for a walk. I had an audio Bible on my phone. The narrator was reading from the Gospel according to Luke, the opening of which we just heard. And I listened again to Luke tell me about Jesus—what He did and said, the promises He made, the kind of Person that He is. I noticed that Luke gave me neither explanations nor directions on how to solve evil. Instead, he shared a narrative about the One who had and would. And I found myself trusting Jesus, loving Him, and wanting to love like Him, in spite of evil. And so, when I visited Stephen, I shared some of Luke's narrative with him. And Stephen said he trusted Jesus, too.
Over the next several weeks on The Lutheran Hour, we're going to be listening to Luke's narrative about Jesus. I invite you to listen with us and discover the certainty of things you have been taught.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, deliver us from evil. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. How has evil in the world made you face doubts about God's power or love?
2. Skim through Luke's Gospel. Which part shows you the trustworthiness of Jesus most clearly?
3. What helps you continue to trust Jesus in spite of evil in the world?
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