Suffering and the Goodness of God

During a recent convalescence I picked up a book edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson, entitled, Suffering and the Goodness of God (Crossway Books, 2008).   The book is a series of ten essays.  By far the best is John S. Feinberg’s, “A Journey in Suffering: Personal Reflections on the Religious Problem of Evil.”  While the rest of the essays have value for the mind, Feinberg’s touches the heart.  He shares from his own experience his reflections on his wife’s diagnosis of Huntington’s disease for which there is no known cure.  Added to this burden is the painful knowledge that his three children have a 50% chance of having the disease or being a carrier.

For those who are struggling in suffering or are comforting someone who is suffering, Feinberg’s essay is a must read.

Feinberg captures the essence of his own struggle with these words: “All my study and all the intellectual answers were of little help because the religious problem of evil isn’t primarily an intellectual problem but is fundamentally an emotional problem! People wrestling with evil, as I was, do not need an intellectual discourse on how to justify God’s ways to man in light of what’s happening. That’s what is needed to solve the abstract theological/philosophical problem of evil. This, on the other hand, is a problem about how someone experiencing affliction can live with this God who doesn’t stop it” (“A Journey in Suffering: Personal Reflections on the Religious Problem of Evil” in Suffering and the Goodness of God, 219).

 I would humbly suggest that the problem of evil that Feinberg suggested while having an emotional aspect is at its core actually a problem of faith.  Will I have faith in a God who does not end the suffering when he is more than able to make it cease now?

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