Understanding The Problem Of Evil And Suffering

If God is Good – Part One, Section One

The Problem of Evil

Understanding the problem of evil and suffering is the title of section one from the book by Randy Alcorn titled, If God is Good.

God is concerned about our suffering.

If you would like your own copy, you can purchase it from the author’s website or Amazon.

In my last post Randy Alcorn introduced his book by/with:

  • encouragement to readers and those especially hurting and confused.
  • In seeking answers to the question of “If God is Good” the outcome should draw us toward Jesus Christ.
  • we find throughout the scriptures that God does see our afflictions. He does care for us, and He has prepared a place and a time where evil and suffering will be no more!

Read the introductory post HERE.

Today we begin looking at Section One of Understanding The Problem Of Evil And Suffering. There are five chapters in this section.

So as not to overwhelm those following along, we will only look at the first chapter. I encourage you to leave your thoughts, comments, and any suggestions you may have as we work through this book together.

Chapter 1 – Why Is The Problem Of Evil And Suffering So Important?

Below are excerpts from the chapter that stood out to me. The previous owner of this book made helpful notes in the margins. I believe from the notes that he was/is a Pastor. I may also share at times his thoughts.

Chapter one opens with the following statement: The problem of evil and suffering can move from the philosophical to the personal in a split second.

Randy Alcorn stated:

“It’s one thing to talk about evil and suffering philosophically, but it’s another thing to have to live with it.”

If we open our eyes, we’ll see the problem of evil and suffering even when it doesn’t touch us directly. The problem of evil and suffering is something that does not need to be ignored and should be talked about.

“Pain has a face and a name.”- Pastor Greg Laurie

Most people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God.

Richard Swinburne, writing in the Oxford Companion to Philosophy stated:

The problem of evil is the most powerful objection to traditional theism.”Richard Swinburne

Randy Alcorn states in his book: “you will not get far in a conversation with someone who rejects the Christian faith before the problem of evil is raised pulled out like the ultimate trump card it’s supposed to silence believers and prove that the all-good and all-powerful God of the Bible doesn’t exist.”

The Problem of Evil Is Atheism’s Cornerstone

German playwright Georg Büchner (1813-37) called the problem of evil the “rock of atheism.” Atheists point to the problem of evil as proof that the God of the Bible doesn’t exist.

Atheists write page after page about evil and suffering. The problem of evil never strays far from their view. It intrudes upon chapters with vastly different subjects.

Sam Harris writes “Atheism is not a philosophy; It is not even a view of the world; It is simply an admission of the obvious.”

Harris then scolds Christians saying about intelligent people (such as himself), “We stand dumbstruck by you-by your denial of tangible reality, by the suffering you create in service to your religious myths and by your attachment to an imaginary God.

Strong or Weak Faith

NOTE: I debated whether or not to include this next section of chapter one. At first glance, I thought the author’s statement was shocking. This section can definitely step on people’s toes. But I believe the Lord wants me to include excerpts from this section. You may have to reread it a few times as I did.

Moreover. even though this book was written in 2006, this section speaks to where we’re at today in regard to the evil and suffering in our nation and nations around the world in the last few years.

This section begins with the statement:

A faith that leaves us unprepared for suffering is a false faith that deserves to be lost.

A lot of bad theology inevitably surfaces when we face suffering.

Auschwitz survivor Victor Frankel wrote, “just as the small fire is extinguished by the storm whereas a large fire is enhanced by it, likewise a weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.”

When people lose their faith because of suffering it’s usually a weaker nominal faith that doesn’t account for or prepare them for evil and suffering. I believe that any faith not based on the truth needs to be lost, the sooner the better.

Believing God exists is not the same as trusting the God who exists.

A nominal Christian often discovers in suffering that his faith has been in his church, denomination, or family tradition, but not Christ. As he faces evil and suffering, he may lose his faith but that’s actually a good thing.

Randy Alcorn continues by saying: “I have sympathy for people who lose their faith, but any faith lost in suffering wasn’t a faith worth keeping. Genuine faith will be tested, false faith will be lost.”

If you base your faith on lack of affliction your faith lives on the brink of extinction and will fall apart because of a frightening diagnosis, or a shattering phone call.

Token faith will not survive suffering nor should it. Suffering and evil exert a force that either pushes us away from God or pulls us toward Him.

The devastation of tragedy feels just as real for people whose faith endures suffering. But because they know that others have suffered and learned to trust God anyway, they also can apply that trust to God as they face their own disasters.

Why? Because they do not place their hope for health and abundance and secure relationships in this life but in an eternal life to come. Their hope remains firm regardless of what happens.

Losing your faith may be God’s gift to you. Only when you jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can you replace it with valid faith in the true God, faith that can pass and even find strength in the most formidable of life’s tests.

READ an article by Randy Alcorn based on this section here.

Many Are Not Prepared

According to the author most evangelical churches whether traditional, liturgical, or emergent have failed to teach people to think biblically about the realities of evil and suffering. A pastor’s daughter told the author:

I was never taught that Christian life was going to be difficult. I’ve discovered it is, and I wasn’t ready.”

Our failure to teach a biblical theology of suffering leaves Christians unprepared for harsh realities, and it leaves our children vulnerable to history, philosophy, and global studies that raise the problems of evil and suffering while denying the Christian worldview.

Since the question will be raised, shouldn’t Christian parents and churches raise it first and take people to scripture to see what God says about it?

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Jesus: John 16:33

Concluding Remarks

I can identify with those who question why God allows evil to continue. I used to struggle with wondering why God did not just end Satan and be done with him. However, Satan is part of the problem, but not the only reason for evil and suffering. Rebellious mankind can and does a horrific job all on its own. You can see that in scripture. (Rev 20:7-10)

Even while Satan is bound for 1000 years during Christ’s millennial reign, people will reject the Creator! Why? Because of the sinful nature that is inside every human (except Jesus Christ).

I am at a point now, where I understand that should, or rather, when evil or suffering comes my way, I need to trust that God plans to use it for my good and His glory. I have learned to ask God what it is that He wants to accomplish in me or through me.

Is it easy? Nope! Is that my first thought when suffering comes? Not all the time, but I am learning and growing in the Lord, and I am not blaming Him for what sinful man chooses to do. There is a Great White Throne Judgment coming. God does have the last word in all things!

I have included a video link below that I believe will be helpful.
Why We Suffer Grief: 1 Peter 1:6-9 – by Pastor J.D. Farag

Up next: Chapter 2,  What is The Problem of Evil and Suffering?

Do you have a relationship with the King of kings, Jesus Christ?

Maranatha! Until next time, I am Passionately Loving Jesus, the Anchor of my Soul.

ABC’s of Salvation – Repent and be saved from the Wrath of God to come.

Maranatha! Until next time, I am Passionately Loving Jesus, the Anchor of my Soul.

ABC’s of Salvation – Repent and be saved from the Wrath of God to come.
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