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Living Courageously

Living Courageously

Editor’s note: Matt Chandler’s new book, The Overcomers, challenges us to walk in the victory and courage Christ gives us. Even in a world of anxiety, stress, conflict, and great offense, we can live confidently in God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence.


If you and I are going to be Overcomers and live courageously in this mess, it’d be helpful to understand some of it. After we see ultimate reality in Revelation 4–5, in Revelation 6 we get more help seeing behind all the mess. We get some good news about how we can endure and stand with confidence in light of all this pain — the pain of others and our pain as well.

When it comes to suffering, we see several things in the Scriptures that form a paradox we should hold in tension as finite, created beings seeking to understand an infinite and eternal God. The first is that God is good (Mark 10:18), all the works of His hands are faithful and just (Psalm 111:7), and there is no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5).

  • God is It’s not something He has or does; it’s who He is. God doesn’t do evil; He does love.

Excluding Satan and demons who were made in the beginning good, it might be helpful for you to think of evil not as an action or a substance that flows from a source but rather the result of fractured relationships. It’s first and foremost a broken relationship with our Creator, then with ourselves, with others, and ultimately with the world itself.

God isn’t the creator of evil; He’s the creator of beauty, goodness, and truth. Evil, suffering, and death are the result of sin and humankind’s rebellion against their Creator, which fractured the cosmos. That isn’t to say that every specific thing we endure is our fault. The cosmos is fractured at both the macro and micro levels. Some suffering, maybe most suffering, flows from this reality. The cosmos is broken. It isn’t functioning as it was designed.

We can know from the Scriptures that God isn’t the author of evil but the source of beauty, goodness, and truth.

With that said, here comes the paradox: God — in His sovereign reign over all things — holds all evil on a leash, including Satan, demons, and the brokenness that leads to sin and suffering. Nothing, not even the brokenness of the cosmos, is without boundaries and limits. Evil and suffering are not omnipotent. They don’t have the final say or authority. There’s more in this part of our paradox, but we need to talk about judo to help us understand.

In the martial art of judo, the goal is to use the momentum and strength of your opponent against them. To use their energy and output to ultimately defeat them. Not only does God set boundaries and limits on evil and suffering, but He uses evil and suffering against evil and suffering.

For almost thirty years, I’ve watched as followers of Jesus have been diagnosed with illness, killed in tragic accidents, and on the receiving end of terrible tragedies. Yet, in almost every case, the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) does its work, and those people begin to minister to others who are hurting. Where evil tries to destroy, God turns it on its head. He sovereignly redeems the suffering of His people by exposing idols, growing their faith and dependence, and granting them His presence in unique and beautiful ways.

Here is our paradox: God is sovereign over all things. God is good. God isn’t the author or cause of evil, yet when evil happens, regardless of cause, God can work things for our good and take the destructive hope of evil and redeem it.

I love this quote by Tim Keller:

Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.1

Having pastored for more than twenty years, I have hundreds of questions about what I’ve just written. I’m sure you do too. These questions can haunt me at times. The “where was God...” or “why would God...” questions from people have felt almost too weighty for me to bear on more than one occasion. I don’t just think of these massive questions theoretically and divorced from their humanity. These questions involve actual faces and real tears. The questions are cried or screamed or whimpered into the heavens. How are we to make sense of it all?

The Scriptures don’t seem to be interested in answering all our questions. In the last five chapters of the book of Job, we see there are things we, as finite, created beings, won’t be able to comprehend that God, in His infinite power and wisdom, can. He is good.

  • Look to Jesus. Watch Him as He reveals the Kingdom of God.

See His power over disease and death, His restoring power over tragedy and loss, His tears for the world’s brokenness, and His power to do something about it. This is the Kingdom expanding in every direction, whether we see it or not.

This is why darkness and pain are thrashing about. They’re losing ground. They are trying to make one last stand in a cosmic war that has already been won.

Watch the Video

  1. Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (New York: Penguin Books, 2015).

Excerpted with permission from The Overcomers by Matt Chandler, copyright Matt Chandler. 

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Your Turn

We get to live courageously… because the Kingdom of God holds the winning hand. Even in truly confusing and painful circumstances that cause us severe suffering, we can declare the truth that God is good, and He loves us, and He will use any evil or harm done to us for good! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you about living courageously. ~ Devotionals Daily