I would highly recommend Randy Alcorn’s “If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil.” I was fortunate enough to receive a copy in a special pre-release. This book is available at Amazon.com for under $17.00 a piece (http://www.amazon.com/If-God-Good-Faith-Suffering/dp/160142132X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253895665&sr=8-1). You can learn more, or even purchase a copy of the book, at Random House’s website (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781601421326).
One of my favorite chapters was dedicated to the topic of “A Deeper Consideration of What Our Sin Nature Does and Doesn’t Mean.” The author explored sins of omission. One biblical author described such an idea when he said, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17, ESV). We too often focus on what we are not supposed to do and fail to actually notice what we are supposed to do. God is not interested in us being good as he is us being godly – thinking, feeling, acting, and talking like Jesus Christ. The book illustrates this point by sharing the tragic story of “The Saint Louis.” This was a boat that was full of Jews who were seeking sanctuary in a nation that would be willing to protect them from the evil policies of Nazi Germany. The nations of Cuba, United States, and Canada all denied their entrance by citing standing immigration policies. They responded this way even though they were fully aware of the danger in forcing these groups to return to a continent which had erupted in war and genocide. Many of these individuals later died in concentration camps as they were invaded and thus captured by Hitler’s forces.
The author writes, “We speak of Germany’s evil but both the United States and Canada didn’t care enough about these defenseless people to open their borders to them, and as a result many of them died. Had Germany not threatened Europe and our own country, but simply executed millions of Jews within its borders, would we ever have come to their defense? We like to to think we’re made of better stuff, but we are all part of the same fallen race” (Alcorn 75). Evil is a shared responsibility. I pray that the church, I pray that my church, I pray that I will further God’s Kingdom here on earth by bringing grace and justice.
The author warns, “Apart from Christ, we are different from every notorious murderer and ruthless dictator only in degree, not in kind (Alcorn, 75).” I can’t read those words without becoming greatly troubled . . . not because I know them to be untrue but because they are completely true. Every time I measure myself against someone worse than me I am lying to myself. Every time I wish ill on another human being , every time I secretly hope that “they get theirs”, every time I want justice to be served – I am forgetting that if it was not by the grace of God I could have done the exact same thing – I could have been that type of person. Shouldn’t my response then be to show them that same grace – to give them what they do not deserve as well? Does it trouble me to think that God loves that terrible individual as much as he loves me? That I would be in that same company?
The moment we drift from the grace of God is the moment that we begin to grow comfortable with the evil in our own life. We quickly forget that we are not yet holy. That we are not yet sanctified. That we are still sinners. Rebels . . . who have been reconciled, restored, and are being renewed. We must still be on guard that there are temptations and tests ahead. The target is still very much on our back. We must respond with a humility and an honesty – with a heart of repentance and wisdom. Our goal is not to face temptation as it is but instead to run from it. Flee. Believe it or not, Christ is most honored when we remember how much we have been forgiven. Our response is then one of gratitude and worship – we adore God for who he is and for what he has done rather than for who we think we are and what we feel obligated to accomplish. We also then will begin to believe again that God’s grace is enough for those that we have been guilty of hating the most. Wasn’t Peter once a racist? He became a revolutionary. Wasn’t Paul a terrorist? He became a missionary. Why not your enemy? Don’t focus on what you are not supposed to do as much as on what you are supposed to do – love God and love others – seek and save that which is lost.
Official Description: Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us. In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God–Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist? These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.
In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise. Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear. As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.
Official Biography: Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels include Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.