Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If God is Good...

I wasn't really planning on writing this post yet, but I feel I should. Randy Alcorn, who I am proud to call friend, brother, pal has written a book titled "If God is Good...Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil." It came out yesterday. I began reading it last week.

I'm not gonna lie. My usual fare tends to be things like "The Shopaholic Takes Manhattan" and People Magazine cookbooks (with pictures) by Paula Deene. Frivolous?Yes.
Enjoyable? Completely.

So a book about suffering (really?) and evil (seriously?) would not necessarily end up on my night stand. Well, it would. But it would get dusty. Just sayin'.

But because this was written by my good friend, because I trust and look up to this man so much,and I completely know how his heart chases after Jesus, I would set aside Paula Deene and her buttery recipes for a time.

I even began to look forward to what I was going to learn. But I wasn't prepared for the cracking open of my heart as I read and absorbed and reread and cried.

How could I not have understood these important truths before? Did I just become too familiar with "common" doctrine and apathetic to God's crazy love and his willingness to suffer for us?

I have wept the last two days reading this book and when my feelings became too much I put it down and walked away to make dinner or play with the puppy. I'm telling you, the truth of this is washing over me and over me.
My eyes have been focused on myself and my (our) own "suffering" rather than Jesus.
I am so torn apart by not having seen that.
Or known it with my head, but not owned it in my heart.
I am repenting today.

Randy writes, " The cross is God's answer to the question, "Why don't you do something about evil?" Bart Ehrman writes, "I came to think that there is not a God actively involved with this world of pain and misery---if he is, why doesn't he do something about it?"

But what if God did do something about it? What if what he did was so great and unprecedented that it shook the angelic realm's foundation, and ripped in half, from the top down, not only the temple curtain, but the fabric of the universe itself?"

Randy goes on to do what the Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion" could not do; portray with words what suffering Christ went through, both in body and spirit, so he could prevent our eternal suffering.

He lays out what society's various responses are to the question of evil and suffering and then dives into the many layers of what scripture tells us. Brilliant stuff.

I so highly recommend this book. In fact, I insist you go get one. We need to understand about suffering before it happens. Because it will. But we have a God who cares .

Randy writes, " If you know Jesus, then the hand holding your bears the calluses of a carpenter who worked with wood and carried the cross for you. When he opens his hand, you see the gnarled flesh of the nail scars on his wrists. And when you think he doesn't understand your pain, realize that you don't understand the extent of his pain. Love him or not, he has proven that he loves you.
If you hate suffering, does it make sense to choose eternal suffering when God has already suffered so much to deliver you from it?
In your most troubled moments, when you cry out to God, "Why have you let this happen?" picture the outstretched hands of Christ, forever scarred...for you.
Do these look like the hands of a God who does not care?"

Now I have to go finish it.
Go get yourself one or twelve.

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