Friday, January 14, 2011

Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil

"I lost the money I had set aside for rent. He knows where it is. If he wanted to help me, He could."

Maybe you've never lost an envelope full of cash, and maybe your most recent struggle was a much bigger deal than what I experienced the week I began reading this book, but certainly there have been times in your life when your thoughts have lead you to this uncomfortable and trailing thought:

"He could fix this mess in an instant, but I am still in this mess..." What does that say about God?

I implore you to find out. In the book, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, by Randy Alcorn, you can learn about what it means when the scriptures declare that God is Good. You might be surprised at what you learn inside the covers of this book

The author quotes John Piper as saying:

The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of the utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God's grace that ever was, or ever could be. Everything leading to it and everything flowing from it is explained by it, including all the suffering in the world.

I have yet to read a more exhaustive treatment on the goodness of God and how it reconciles with his sovereignty in the midst of a world that is full of sin and evil and suffering.

As a child, I'd ask my mom why I couldn't have my way in a situation and more than not, she'd reply, "Because I said so." I have always answered any questions I had regarding why God allows suffering: Because He said so. I've never questioned God's goodness, but I'd never thought to learn about it, either.

I chose to read this book expecting to find a glossed over, heard-it-all-before compilation of thoughts and opinions. I expected to read it a day. Two days if I had to go grocery shopping or volunteer at the kids' school.

A full month later, and I'm just wrapping it up. I've never come across a book that was equal parts dense and fascinating.

This book addresses free will, the sovereignty of God, the origins of sin, heaven and hell. This book asks tough questions like:

  • If God is all-knowing, why did He create Lucifer to begin with - He had to know he would fall from grace.
  • If God is good, why does He allow all this suffering?
  • If God is sovereign, then why does he allow us to make choices that He knows will cause harm?

He also addresses different belief systems and what they have to say about Yahweh. Then he shows you what the bible says about Yahweh.

In addition to many stories and real-life experiences that he recounts for us - both from current events and from history past - this book is also beautifully rich in scriptural evidences to support each section.

It is a lengthy book that most won't be able to breeze through, but aside from the scriptures themselves, I've rarely encountered a book that has so thoroughly changed my understanding of God. I no longer ask, "Why isn't God intervening?" Instead, I see each struggle as part of God's good and redemptive plan for my life.

I am glad I chose to review this book. My love for reading books rarely intersects with my ability to pay for books and for this reason, I was glad to find that I could get a free copy of If God Is Good... from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my book review.


  1. I found this to be such a powerful book. I've read several books which try to approach the topic of suffering and none of them do nearly as well as Randy Alcorn did!

  2. I've read the first ten pages of several books which try to approach the topic of suffering but have yet to reach the elusive eleventh page.

    This book was a different breed of book altogether and well worth the time necessary to read it properly. The time investment is substantial as I understand that if it had been printed in an average font size, it would have been over 800 pages long.