Were selfish and malicious choices - choices mis-wielded - not to receive the natural consequences of pain and death, only then could we truly say that a loving God was malicious. For without consequences against those who mis-wield choice, all would be trapped in a terrible world of unimaginable solitude, devoid of community. We would all be islands unto ourselves. The pain that results from the mishandling of choice is not merely judgment - though often it is indeed judgment. It is also mercy. As the vomiting from an inebriated's gut may be enough to turn the drunkard away from too much drink, so the pain from a choice that has ostracized and maligned others may be just enough to draw one away from their lonely, self-centered universe and into closer community.
Natural evil, likewise, shows us a better way. The pain we experience from tornadoes, earthquakes, storms, and accidents is no less painful than that experienced from human malice. This pain is often not a direct result of evil choices modern humanity has made. It is a curse of God from the Fall. But again, natural evil, though a curse, is also a mercy to fallen humanity. The sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden was not simply the eating of forbidden fruit, but choosing such in order to set himself up as God. Adam's sin was self-centeredness, and it is from this sin that all other sins are birthed. The Bible's first observation of Adam's fallenness was his desire to clothe himself, as he had for the first time in his life looked fully inward instead of fully outward. No longer was Adam's only concern for Eve, nature, and God, but it was rather a concern for himself. Natural evil, then, is a reminder that the world is against us. Were the world to be for us, as it once was, it would only serve to entrench the core notion of sin in us which tells us that we are God and that all should bow to us. Nature now requires our sacrifice, a perpetual reminder that we are not God.
Our world is filled with sharp edges upon which we frequently fall. The blood we spill often causes us to question what sort of creator would fashion such a world, and how such a harsh world could be a benevolent blessing. First and foremost, the Christian worldview acknowledges that evil truly exists and that the world is not as it should be. Pain and evil are not fabrications, illusions, or non-existent. They are real. While most other ideologies have no objective grounds for saying the world "should" be otherwise, Christianity grounds such language in a purposeful creation by a benevolent God. The Christian answer to pain and evil, then, is to seek life as it was intended by its creator. True joy and fulfillment comes from a relationship with the creator God, recognizing him as the sovereign of all things, and living in self-sacrificial community. Not only does God intend for us to live this way, but he demonstrated such a life himself through Jesus Christ, who submitted to the "foolish" means of God - pain and death at the hands of evil men - for the good of others. Our harsh world, then, blesses us with the ever present reminder that we are not God, and that only something outside ourselves can fix what is wrong. This harsh world is not as such because God seeks our blood, an oblation for our attempt to usurp his throne. Rather, it is intended to depict to us our mortality and point us to that which is beyond ourselves - the true God.
As humanity continues to fall upon the sharp blade of choice wielded inappropriately, we would do well to recognize that the ensuing pain is in a strange sense, a wonderful mercy of God. Pain can undercut the deeply entrenched notions in each of us that we are gods, and point us to the one who truly is. But we would also do well to recognize that the power of choice can be wielded for unimaginable good. As we choose to obey God, love our enemies, lay down our lives, and refuse to bow the knee to the powers and institutions of this world, we will find that the pain and darkness of this world are subdued. The wonderful blade of choice which God has given us is able to pierce the darkness. Our choice to remove ourselves from the fictitious pantheon and bow the knee to the true God's means will change the world. As we wield our choices of worship, humility, love, service, and submission, God will conquer evil, push back the darkness, and circumcise even the hardest of hearts - our own.