How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

I plan on writing a blog on the topic soon… (I did: Spiritual Formation and Crap), but if you can’t wait for me to answer the question, I urge you: Do Not Pass Go; Do Not Collect $200; but run out (or go online) right now and buy “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller. 

By the way, he answers the above question in Chapter 2.

You can order the book on Amazon. Click here: The Reason for God

Or check out to learn more about the book.

My kind husband pre-ordered me a copy, which arrived two days ago. I read it every chance I get.

I haven’t yet made it to the end of a chapter without tears in my eyes as I read Keller’s accounts of how God works and has worked through Jesus and others.

I was reading it at my daughter’s Suzuki violin group practice. How embarrasing to wipe away a tear as I read this quote of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s:

Pain is a holy angel…. Through him men have become greater than through all the joys of the world…. The pain of longing which often can be felt physically, must be there, and we shall not and need not talk it away. But it needs to be overcome every time, and thus there is an even holier angel than the one of pain, that is the one of joy in God.

FYI, Bonhoeffer stood up against Hitler and was eventually arrested, imprisoned, and hanged.

If you are a believer, you will rejoice in the logical and especially the empirical evidences for your faith as you read this book.

If you are a seeker, I can’t imagine finishing this book without at least re-considering real Christianity.

Let me know what you think.  And get another copy for a friend.

FYI, I just checked and “The Reason for God” is #18 on the New York Times Bestseller list. That’s amazing!! This week it is #11 in hardcover nonfiction. Wow. Update: the book stayed 8 weeks on the NYT’s bestseller list.


5 thoughts on “How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

  1. I just bought this book as well but have not had time to dedicate to it. This is a very interesting subject in light of all of the recent Open Theism, that seems to teach that their position offers a better response to suffering. I don’t agree with Openess Theology, but their line of reasoning goes something like this (taken from my blog on the discussion of Open Theism)

    A relational God who can speak to us individually doesn’t need to use tragedy as a lesson. So, with understanding of the full possibilities of the future, God, though self-limited by the world he created, fights for the contingencies that most reflect his love for us. Like you said, “If God knows the possibilities, then one of the possibilities might be that you might suffer. ” Correct, but God ALWAYS fights for our relief, never purposefully choosing to allow that tragedy to occur with his knowledge (which is an integral part of traditional foreknowledge). God believes there’s a better way than death, heartache, and destruction.

    I just don’t know who they respond to Job. The questions is still out there waiting for a response from them.

    I would love for you to start a dialog on suffering.

    Check out my blog on suffering: Spiritual Formation and Crap, FYI. Suffering is a good thing! Ask Jesus what it accomplished…

    Re Open Theism, I did much research a few years back on the topic in order to present the Reformed view of God over and against the Arminian and Open views. The problem with Open is that they posit if God doesn’t control the future (is not sovereign), then he can’t know the future (is not omniscient), and that he in fact changes his mind based on our actions (is not immutable). You can see where that leads. If Jesus didn’t know the future, then his prophecies of the future are guesses. That leads to a consistent Open adherent to question whether or not scripture can be true. Was Jesus wrong in his prophecies? Then scripture is suspect. The fellow who had me give the presentation was an Open adherent. He left our church when he realized that he couldn’t hold to the infallibility of Scripture. By the way, the Arminian view: God is immutable and omniscient, but not sovereign (at least not in matters of salvation, i.e., election). The Reformed view of course is that God is sovereign, omniscient, and immutable.

    Bet my other readers didn’t know I had all this junk crammed in my head. LOL (Pistol: comes from sleeping on my brain…)

  2. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Good to see you again, Pistol. Oh, did I tell you my oldest is now playing basketball? See her in action: Girl’s Got Game (photo)

  3. Rick Warren in the Purpose Driven Life talks about how our of our greatest pain almost always comes our greatest ministry to others. I know for me that’s entirely true. My greatest pain is also why I am a Christian instead of the atheist/agnostic I was a few years ago.

    God is a master at taking a “bad situation” and using it to change our lives and to change the world.

    Amen to that, sister!

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