More thoughts from Randy Alcorn's book "If God is Good..." tonight:
Randy says that most of us don't give much thought to evil and suffering until we experience them ourselves. That was definitely true for me. Before our lives were turned upside down by Hannah's cancer, it seemed like those kinds of catastrophes only happened to "other people". But, Randy points out that if we don't spend some time contemplating our response to suffering before it happens, we will be forced to "formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we're exhausted and consumed by pressing issues."
Consider these differing perspectives on suffering. A friend of Randy's shared this story:
"When I was admitted to the hospital in sepsis with a 50/50 chance of survival, I asked the chaplain how we could believe that God is love, when this felt like the antithesis of love. I said I wouldn't inflict this much suffering on someone I hated, let alone someone I loved. She told me she would "look it up," then left my room and never came back. I posed the same question to the social worker who came to visit me a few days later. She told me that God's like a giant and we're like little ants, and sometimes He accidentally steps on our ant hills and some of us get hurt. She said our suffering is random and God's probably not even aware of it."
Wow. Where is the hope in that? Why even bother?
Contrast that story with this one. In May 2000, James Montgomery Boice, pastor of a large church in Philadelphia, shared with his congregation that he'd been diagnosed with liver cancer. Here's what he told them:
"Should you pray for a miracle? Well, you're free to do that, of course. My general impression is that the God who is able to do miracles--and He certainly can--is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place. So although miracles do happen, they're rare by definition.... Above all, I would say pray for the glory of God. If you think of God glorifying Himself in history and you say, where in all of history has God most glorified Himself? He did it at the cross of Jesus Christ, and it wasn't by delivering Jesus from the cross, though He could have.... God is in charge. When things like this come into our lives, they are not accidental. It's not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by.... God is not only the one who is in charge; God is also good. Everything He does is good.... If God does something in your life, would you change it? If you'd change it, you'd make it worse. It wouldn't be as good."
Eight weeks later, Pastor Boice stepped into Heaven. I love his perspective. There's nothing left for me to add.