I just finished Randy Alcorn’s book, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, and I recommend it. It’s quite long, but the chapters are brief and readable, so it’s not difficult to get through—although you could spend plenty of time thinking through the ideas of each chapter after reading them.
One thing I’ve been struggling to come to terms with the last few years is the sheer weight of all the evil and suffering in the world. Is good really stronger than evil? I certainly knew in my head that goodness—that God—is stronger, but evil seems so intensely powerful, and a little bit of it can destroy much good. I wanted to truly know and trust that good is even more powerful, has more weight, than evil—and not just at the end of time when God puts an end to evil by force.
I found myself picturing goodness as a wimpy little guy who can do nothing to keep himself from being stomped on by bullies. I knew that image was wrong—that it was even an insult to God, but I couldn’t shake it.
But this book has made a big difference. Reading a large amount of it over a short period of time overwhelmed me with story after story of Christians who suffered horrific evils…evils that were used by God to accomplish great goods—not only in the character of these Christians, but in their relationships with God and in the salvation of countless others. As painful as it was, the evil never succeeded in having the last word. The outcome was always God’sintended outcome.
I think I’ve been looking at this all the wrong way. I was measuring the strength of goodness by looking for good to put an end to evils, when all along, the evils were being used strongly by God for good. It’s hard to imagine thanking God for a painful life of paralysis, but people do. People do! Isn’t that incredible?
They’ve learned the secret: God has power over all evil that would seek to destroy, and it will all work to serve God’s good purposes.
Of course, that is where faith—trust in God and His character—comes in, because we can’t always see what good is being accomplished through any one person’s suffering. Sometimes it takes years to see, and sometimes the answer is beyond us in this life. But the avalanche of very specific stories in this book gave me hope like nothing else. Seeing God’s goodness and faithfulness in the lives of those whose level of suffering will probably far exceed mine in my lifetime, and seeing the resulting depth of their knowledge of and trust in God, changed something in me.
God’s goodness is more powerful than evil. Hallelujah!