My arm was aching and aching though.
The public talk covered the question I always had till I opened the door to two Jehovah's Witnesses who sat me down and showed me what the Bible on my shelf - the Revised Standard - actually said.
The question: If there is a God and he is all-good and all-powerful, why is the world so full of cruelty and injustice? Why is nature "red in tooth and claw"? It seemed that either God could not be good, or he could not be all-powerful.
The Inspired Scriptures answer that question, perfectly and beauitfully. And our speaker today used two simple and effective illustrations to make it clear.
The first related to the question of who rules the world - the system of things on the earth - at the moment.
The illustration was of a parent and child waiting by the side of the road till its safe to cross. Suddenly the child wrenches itself free and runs across the road - but a car is coming. The parent sees that it his next door neighbour's car. But, instead of slamming on the brakes, the driver accelerates towards the child, hits him, and drives off, even faster!
The parent gets his badly injured child to hospital and rings the police to denounce his neighbour. However, to his shock, the police do not arrest the neighbour. It turns out the car had been stolen, and it was the thief recklessly driving it away who had injured the child.
The point? Although, yes, the earth does belong to Jehovah - everything does - he is the Grand Creator - at the moment it has been stolen. Satan rebelled in the garden of Eden, and he persuaded our first parents to join him. And ever since then "the whole world" has been lying in the power of "the wicked one". Satan is in charge of the system of things on the earth - which is why it is both cruel and unjust.
(1 John 5:19) "We know that we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one."
Then the question follows- why does God allow this situation to continue? Surely he can remove Satan any time he wants?
Yes, of course. But Jehovah has allowed us to live for a while - a very short while in his eyes - with the consequences of rebellion, so that the issue of who has the right to rule, whose rule is best, can be settled once and for all. The Speaker did not refer to this Scripture, but the Bible does assure us that "distress will not rise up a second time".
Which brings me neatly to the next simple illustration. If you have a young teenager who decides they no longer need their parents but are going to set up on their own, and off they go, would it be a good idea to sneak into their untidy flat at night, clean up all the mess, fill the fridge with food, do their washing for them, etc? You would want to, of course. This is your child. But how are they to learn that they are not able to cope on their own, that they need their parents guidance, if you do that?
Jehovah has allowed us time to find out if we can successfully rule ourselves - be "like god" - as Satan told Eve - or if our Creator was telling us the truth when he says that "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step".
The last 6,000 years of human history stand as witness to the truthfulness of Jehovah. We desperately need his guidance. We have tried everything, learnt nothing, and are on the brink of ruining the earth. When our first parents rebelled, far from becoming gods, they found they could not even keep themselves alive, let alone run this beautiful and complex planet.
So, while Jehovah has left us to live with the tragic consequences of the choice our first parents made for a little while, he also promised us a rescue, right from the moment things went wrong, and that rescue is well in hand - so close now. The Kingdom preaching work that Jesus left for his followers to do has never been more urgent.