Wednesday, September 23, 2009

True Value

One of my favorite authors, Randy Alcorn, has written a book called "If God Is Good," which released just last week. In it, he discusses God's plan for suffering and evil, and how to biblically address these problems in the world.

In his latest post (which includes a YouTube video), he talks about God being sovereign over evil and suffering, and allowing it for good, as Paul explains in Romans 8. I'm excited to read this new book, and I wanted to write briefly here to add one more thought to Randy's excellent blog post.

Not only does God allow evil and He has a plan to redeem the world, but He also uses it as a tool for people to truly know Him. We've all had experiences with "fair weather friends" who are there when things are good, and are mysteriously missing when things get tough. However, those true friends who stuck with us through even the tough times become the friends we know the best and cherish the most.

Job is a perfect example. Job was allowed to endure suffering beyond comprehension, without explanation, and yet through those experiences he developed a greater fear and love for God. He learned of God's faithfulness, and in the end received a reward that was more meaningful because of his suffering.

If we are simply given a gift without cost, it loses some value. But when the cost is great and the gift is even greater, the value is limitless. This is what God's promises are: eternity in His presence, with the cost of suffering in this life. Worth it? Ask Job (Job 42:10-16).

2 comments:

BF said...

thanks for the post Aaron! love ya. but here are my thoughts: i agree that life is fraught with difficulties, and i believe that we gain meaning in life, even physical gain, through endurance. but i don't believe that anyone should reward us for living through difficult times, god or otherwise. i feel like our civilization (at least, the West) wants to believe so badly that Good will just inevitably happen. as Randy says: "this suffering is for a time only...it will pass." in the meantime, humans kill the planet. it is plainly obvious that humans are the primary cause of their own suffering.

i don't think the answer is to look to heaven, rewards, or limitless stressfree future funtimes with God. i talked to a girl yesterday about the state of the environment and she told me, "i'm not worried. i have faith that someone will find a solution." for some reason, she is OK with suffering. i think she's turned a blind eye to the real world--a world where god, humans, animals, plants, energy, time, lives--and she's traded it for destiny, rewards, mental laziness, and irresponsibility.

after reading and watching his stuff, i know Alcorn would disagree; he doesn't think faith in God's plan is irresponsible. but it is, if it is your #1 method of understanding the world around you. our primary goal should not be to endure suffering, but to ACTIVELY END IT.

Aaron said...

Hey BF! Thanks for hanging out over at my blog long enough to comment - your thoughts are much appreciated!

You raise a great point that I hadn't thought about or addressed in my post - that while we are called to suffering just as Christ suffered, we are also called to actively end it, just as you said.

I was thinking of suffering in times when we are powerless, such as being struck with cancer or losing a loved one. In those instances, our primary goal should be to endure the suffering joyfully, having faith in God's faithfulness. This develops maturity, wisdom, and ultimately brings glory to God. He is "that someone" who has found a solution, as the girl you mentioned stated, and that solution is Christ's redemptive work.

But you're right - like Pastor Matt is always saying about William Wilberforce, we should be actively seeking ways to stand against human suffering, even if it costs us a great deal.

In both situations, though, God promises to reward our enduring suffering (see Romans 8) to His glory. The reward is our benefit, but it's for His glory.

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