On the day we found out Hannah had a brain tumor, I sent an email to a few close friends and family members letting them know the news and requesting prayer for our family. This email was the first of over one hundred that were sent out during her year-long battle with cancer. (See "Hannah's Story in Emails" over in the right-hand column.) These emails were forwarded many times over, resulting in prayer for our family literally around the world. I always closed my emails with the words "God is good, all the time". I believed those words then, and I still believe them now.
So I was intrigued when I found a book by Randy Alcorn titled "If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil". I am an avid reader, and Randy Alcorn is one of my favorite authors ever. He's written several excellent fiction books including "Deadline", "Dominion", and my personal favorite, "Safely Home". In his fiction works, there is always at least one character who dies, but whose story is continued from their perspective in Heaven. Fascinating stuff. He's also written several non-fiction books, including "Heaven", which can only be described as a tome. It's extremely well-researched, very deep theologically, and extremely long. I started reading it when Hannah entered hospice care, and just couldn't get through it all. There's a much more manageable version called "Fifty Days of Heaven", which is basically the same book divided into fifty daily readings. Brad and I both read it in the days after Hannah's death, and he is currently re-reading it. There's also a version called "Heaven for Kids", which is fantastic for children who are seeking an understanding of Heaven. Bethany and her cousins read it after Hannah went to Heaven, and I think it was really helpful for them.
So back to "If God is Good". Before Hannah's illness, I was so very insulated from the pain in the world. One visit to the Hematology/Oncology clinic at Arkansas Children's Hospital ended that. During our year there, we met so many suffering children and families. And as I follow Jedidiah Harper's cancer journey (see "Harper House--Jedidiah's Testimony" in the column on the right), I am amazed that I don't know any of the people Jed's mom has met since they've been going there. That can only mean that many, many more families have started their own cancer journeys over the past year and four months...and many others' journeys have ended. If God is good...why do children get cancer?
A couple of weeks ago a sudden heavy rainstorm hit southwest Arkansas in the middle of the night, just a couple of counties over from where we live. It resulted in a flash flood which swept like lightning through a popular camping area, washing away twenty lives along with it. Many of those lost were children, and some families lost multiple members. It took several days for all the victims to be found, as their families waited in agony. If God is good...how could lives be torn apart in this way?
We were at the Gulf Coast a few weeks ago and visited with several people whose way of life is about to be dramatically changed by the oil spill. Their livelihood, their future, their very identities are intimately tied to what happens to in the Gulf. If God is good...how could He allow a disaster of this magnitude to continue unabated?
There are so many more examples. If God is good...how can He sit back while people in Haiti suffer; how can He allow young men and women to be killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; how can people suffer from incurable diseases like ALS and multiple sclerosis; how can terrorists strap on bombs and detonate them in crowded marketplaces?
I don't have the answers to these questions, but this is the topic that Randy Alcorn addresses in his book. And over my next several posts, I want to share with you what I'm learning as I've been reading his book. I'm no theologian--not by a long shot--but what he says rings true to me, and hopefully it will be of help to you as you face whatever your personal storm happens to be. Stay tuned...