Book Review: How Can A Good God Let Bad Things Happen?

In the past month…

Andrew Pray, a 30 year old worship pastor from West Ridge Church in our town, was killed while out riding his bike leaving behind a young wife and three small children.

a deranged young man killed his mother and then killed 20 young children and 6 faculty/staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Celeste McCormick, a young woman on staff at Gwinnett Church was killed when a drunk driver hit the car she and her husband were riding in to visit family for Christmas.

All of these stories are so heartbreaking and they tend to consume our minds and our conversation as we contemplate the question, “How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen?“…the topic of one of Mark Tabb‘s best sellers.  Mark does a masterful job of tackling this question by using the biblical account of Job as his background story woven throughout.  What is the purpose of all of this suffering?  What is God trying to teach us?

I highlighted several things while reading and will let those quotes speak for themselves…

  • “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10).
  • But what if accidental deaths are not evil in the eyes of God? What if total financial ruin is not tragic in his estimation? What if all of the calamities we dread-the nightmare scenarios and worst-case outcomes that keep us up at night worrying-are not worst case but best case to God?
  • God may work for the good of those who have been called according to his purpose, but that doesn’t mean you or I will fully understand what that good may be.
  • Will I accept bad things from the hand of God as readily as I accept the good?
  • Am I willing to ask him for hard times because in those times I must exercise real faith? I want his presence, but am I willing to ask for feelings of distance from God in order that I might walk by faith and not emotion? Am I willing to pray, God, allow tragedy into my life, allow me to suffer, in order that I might understand what your Son went through on the cross?
  • Security is the mortal’s greatest enemy. – C. S. LEWIS
  • Even when they could see God face-to-face, they had to exercise faith. They chose not to. Sin always begins with unbelief.
  • God did not speak into existence a world of drive-by shootings and random acts of violence. Human beings created this world for themselves.
  • The great wonder of it all lies in God, who chooses to love us in spite of our sin.
  • Rather than end all suffering, he became flesh and shared it. By doing so he destroyed death’s power to harm those who turn to him by faith.
  • “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you, and so that my fame might spread throughout the earth” (Romans 9:17).
  • Trouble does not mean he has taken his blessings away. All the best that heaven can offer still belongs to us.
  • As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “Enjoy prosperity while you can. But when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. That way you will realize that nothing is certain in this life” (7:14).
  • Suffering strips everything to its bare essentials, including our understanding of God. All the candy-coated cliches fall by the wayside. Pithy little sayings and unrealistic concepts of God can’t bear up under suffering’s weight. Through pain God opens our eyes to see him in his awful power and majesty.
  • As Paul wrote to the Colossians, “You died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (3:3).
  • First John 5:4 assures us, “Every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory.”
  • Job reassures me that I don’t have to be strong and unwavering. When my emotions overwhelm me, when the pain becomes more than I can bear, I don’t have to bite my lip and call it a blessing. I can pound the floor in the quiet of my room and cry out to God in anger.
  • Three times Paul begged for relief, and three times God responded, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness” (12:9).
  • John said it best in 1 John 4:19: “First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first” (MSG).
  • Must God be good for me to believe? The answer will be revealed only when my life takes an unexpected turn and God appears to be less than good from my limited, human perspective.
  • He told us to accept bad things from the hand of God for the same reason Paul told the church in Philippi, “You have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him” (1:29).
  • “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later” (Romans 8:18).
  • As long as this world remains palatable, we won’t want anything else. When the pain increases, when the ugly reality of life on earth becomes more than we can bear, our souls long for something more, something permanent. Deep in our hearts we ache for God and God alone. He weans us from the world in order that he might give us the gift of himself.
  • Desperation has a way of stripping everything down to its essentials, and when life turns bad, our one essential becomes God.
  • Here’s how the writer of the book of Hebrews described the scene: “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward” (12:2).
  • As Augustine said, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full-there’s nowhere for him to put it. “4 Suffering empties our hands by emptying us of ourselves. Only then can God finish the work he wants to do in our lives. Read more at location 1639″Let God judge me on the scales of justice, for he knows my integrity” (Job 31:6).
  • In working toward our ultimate good, God often inflicts us with pain or, at the very least, refuses to shield us from the pain life dishes out.

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