If God Is Good: Why Do We Hurt?

If God Is Good: Why Do We Hurt?

3.8 41
by Randy Alcorn

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 The encouragement we crave—when we’re most in need

Out of the deepest hurts of the human condition, Randy Alcorn brings into clear focus our most pressing questions about evil and suffering—including those that wrench our souls when we or someone we love is victimized by evil or assaulted by disease.
   He faces…  See more details below


 The encouragement we crave—when we’re most in need

Out of the deepest hurts of the human condition, Randy Alcorn brings into clear focus our most pressing questions about evil and suffering—including those that wrench our souls when we or someone we love is victimized by evil or assaulted by disease.
   He faces these questions with seasoned sensitivity, skillful insight, and a heart of compassion. He dodges none of the difficulties, and never lapses into platitudes, hand-wringing, or oversimplification.
   On this troubling but inescapable topic, you’ll find frank acknowledgment of the inherent limitations that set humanity apart from the God who has none. There’s also generous, real encouragement that brings God nearer in our understanding when we need His comfort the most. And amid our heavy doubts and swirling confusion on this topic, Randy Alcorn points us ultimately toward Jesus as “the only answer bigger than the questions.”

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The Crown Publishing Group
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The Search We All Share

YOU MAY BE READING this booklet because you long to make sense of the evil and suffering in this world. You might be seeking answers to a philosophical problem, or perhaps you’ve lived long enough to recognize that suffering is inevitable, and you want to be prepared to face it.
   Or, if abuse, desertion, debilitating disease, or the loss of a loved one has devastated you, then your suffering isn’t theoretical or philosophical. It’s deeply personal; you need comfort, not intellectual answers.
   Three weeks after his thirty-three-year-old son Christopher died in a car crash, pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie addressed a crowd of twenty-nine thousand at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California: “I’ve talked about Heaven my whole life, and I’ve given many messages on life after death. I’ve counseled many people who have lost a loved one … But I have to say that when it happens to you, it’s a whole new world.” The day his son died, he told them, was “the hardest day of my life.”1
   When I spoke with Greg ten months later, his faith was strong, but his profound sense of loss remained. Pain is always local. It has a face and a name—in Greg’s case, Christopher. You and I can fill in our own names.
   The way we view such suffering will radically affect how we see God and the world around us. The problem of evil and suffering is the most common reason people give for not believing in God. A Barna Research poll asked, “If you could ask God only one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”2 This isn’t merely a problem; it’s the problem. And for the culture at large, it appears to pose a greater difficulty now than ever.
   I’m a fellow traveler with you on this road of suffering: As a teenager, I watched my friend Greg die from a horrible accident. I had to tell my mother that her brother had been murdered. My mom and my best friend both died from cancer, and an unjust lawsuit cost me a ministry I loved. I held my wife’s and daughters’ hands as we watched my shriveled father die. For twenty-five years now I’ve battled a disease that daily affects my body and mind, and will probably shorten my life.
   But all in all, if I’ve suffered a little more than some people, I’ve suffered a great deal less than many others.
   This booklet offers some of what I consider the most helpful perspectives discussed in my larger work entitled If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. During the two years it took me to research and write that book, I read books by atheists and Holocaust survivors, and interviewed dozens of men and women who’ve endured extreme evil and suffering.
   Along the way I’ve asked God to give me wisdom—and discovered that wisdom begins with the humility to say: there’s a great deal about this I don’t understand.
   In my own personal search for answers, I’ve beheld the God who says, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people.… I have heard them crying out…, and I am concerned about their suffering” (Exodus 3:7). I revel in God’s emphatic promise in the Bible that he will make a New Earth where he’ll come down to live with his people, “he will wipe every tear from their eyes,” and “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).
   Often, as I’ve contemplated potentially faith-jarring situations and sought his truth, God has wiped away my own tears. While my journey hasn’t unearthed easy answers, I’m astonished at how much insight Scripture offers. And after much wrestling with the issues, instead of being disheartened, I have hope. I’m encouraged—especially from seeing more of God’s goodness, love, holiness, justice, patience, grace, and mercy.
   That’s why I frequently quote Scripture in these pages. As you read along, I urge you not to let your feelings—real as they are—invalidate your need to let the truth of God’s words guide your thinking. Remember that the path to your heart travels through your mind. Truth matters.
   So as you deal with suffering, by all means speak with a friend or pastor or counselor, or join a support group. Do not, however, ignore God’s revealed truth about evil and suffering, or his character, purposes, and plans. Quick-fix feeling adjustments will never sustain you over the long haul. But deeply rooted beliefs—grounded in Scripture and empowered by God’s Spirit—will afford you mental and emotional strength to persevere and hold on to a faith built on the solid rock of God’s truth, no matter how fierce the storms of suffering.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Meet the Author

RANDY ALCORN is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries and a best-selling author of over thirty books, including If God is Good, Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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If God Is Good 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a good pointed overview of Christianitys veiw of evil in the world. I personally didnt find it useful but to someone who is unfamiliar with the subject would find it very enlightening.
colossal_pop More than 1 year ago
I don¿t know how many times I have heard people say, ¿If God is so good then why does he allow suffering and pain?¿ but it is a lot. I think it is a good and valid question and is not easily answered. There are a number of books out today that deal with this question and as far as I am concerned most of them are not very good. They spend so much time making excuses for God or use philosophical analogies that don¿t necessarily pertain to the trueness of God. However, when I picked up Randy Alcorn¿s ¿If God Is Good¿¿ I found this book to be one of the best, most comprehensive and honest books on the issue of suffering and evil. Alcorn brings a fresh and biblical perspective to these issues and does so in an easy to read format that is loaded with scripture references to back up his findings. He also uses many examples of men and women throughout history whose lives have been affected greatly by pain, suffering and evil and still have a faith (although challenged at times) that remains stronger than ever. ¿If God Is Good¿¿ is an excellent read for anyone who is struggling with the question of why God allows suffering and pain. It is also a great companion for those in the midst of suffering and trials in their own lives presently. It¿s not a light read as it is nearly 500 pages but is worth the time investment. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dang 108 pages for a sample.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in an sits down under a treem
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy to understand. Allows you to feel Gods love in His purpose. You will come away with a different outlook on the subject. Please read!
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ajbuck More than 1 year ago
If God Is Good is a great new book by Randy Alcorn. The book is divided into 11 sections and is a thought-provoking read. The beginning of the book focuses on evil, describing it as a "departure from goodness" and shifts to suffering. While the book is long, spanning 494 pages, it is divided into fairly short chapters that break up the dialogue about evil and suffering. Alcorn presents a great point, "It's easy to blame God for not doing all he can to stop evil and suffering. But consider that he has graciously allowed the world to continue while postponing final judgment. Consider that he has put us in this world with a mission that includes resisting evil and relieving suffering. Consider that he has entrusted us with vast resources to carry out that mission. We might just want to ask if we, and not God, are to blame." I would highly recommend this book for those who are currently in a season of suffering, who are discouraged by natural disasters, wars, and disease, but even for those who have questions about evil and suffering. Alcorn reminds his readers that God is God and we are not. He has had a plan of redemption from the beginning and while we all suffer for a short time on this earth, and in different ways, that God promises Heaven for those that are His. *I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.*
Calvin_OConnor More than 1 year ago
Note: If I sound academic in this post it is because there were too many ideas floating in my head, and I chose to go with a few quick bullet-points. Suffering and evil are hard topics especially when we're in the middle of walking through real life horrors. I beg grace for the non-chalant tone of this review. Summary: Randy Alcorn wrote If God is Good to show that suffering and evil do not prove that God is bad. Instead, Alcorn argues that suffering and evil manifest the glory of God and the goodness of God. A few thoughts: 1. I believe the book is rather long and Alcorn could have condensed the content considerably without losing much, if any, of the material arguments or encouraging anecdotes. 2. Alcorn mixes rock solid arguments with weak arguments to (I think, in some cases) arguments built on sand. This may seem to, in places, weaken the rock solid arguments. 3. The end of the book was the better part of the book because it was filled with encouraging anecdotes and principles with which we can battle the sense of abandonment in the midst of great loss and BIG evil. The beginning was more about theodicy (the problem of evil) and I'm just worn out by theodicy, so it was not as interesting to me. I have thought a lot about theodicy and believe and know that Jesus is the answer, the cross is the answer, so now I am at the stage where I want to have greater faith in and belief in the cross of Christ. The argument is over. Let the hope-building and strength-conditioning begin. 4. The format of the book was somewhat confusing. And very confusing at times. The book is somewhat schizophrenic in this way: Alcorn will begin ideas, but then quickly leave off, as if he got a phone call from a more interesting person. 5. Alcorn shares many interesting stories of believers facing great evil and suffering with faith in God's death and resurrection. However, he uses many stories that have been told and retold in the evangelical world, so for me (and for others like me) the stories were familiar and thus lacked the power they had when I first heard them. Also, these stories are anecdotes, not full-length histories, so there's a sense of, "but how did these people struggle with the suffering and evil in the actual events of the loss, of the evil?" This is a downside to telling so many anecdotes, the author cannot share as much depth of information. 6. The judgement: In places, this book was very comforting and challenging. But I think there are better books out there. The purpose of the book was to show that God is good even in the midst of suffering and evil, but it cannot replace the need mourners have for genuine love from people, in Christ. Please do not give this book to friends who are in the midst of great pain. Rather give them your presence, your love, and your trust in Jesus, who was and is and will forever remain the good and holy and loving God. We see and judge our suffering in the light of our suffering God. The God who became a man and suffered for the evils of His own enemies so that His enemies might become His adopted children. In this is love. I received this book free from the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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Jeney71 More than 1 year ago
"I lost the money I had set aside for rent. He knows where it is. If he wanted to help me, He could." Maybe you've never lost an envelope full of cash, and maybe your most recent struggle was a much bigger deal than what I experienced the week I began reading this book, but certainly there have been times in your life when your thoughts have lead you to this uncomfortable and trailing thought: "He could fix this mess in an instant, but I am still in this mess..." What does that say about God? I implore you to find out. In the book, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, by Randy Alcorn, you can learn about what it means when the scriptures declare that God is Good. You might be surprised at what you learn inside the covers of this book The author quotes John Piper as saying: "The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of the utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God's grace that ever was, or ever could be. Everything leading to it and everything flowing from it is explained by it, including all the suffering in the world." I have yet to read a more exhaustive treatment on the goodness of God and how it reconciles with his sovereignty in the midst of a world that is full of sin and evil and suffering. As a child, I'd ask my mom why I couldn't have my way in a situation and more than not, she'd reply, "Because I said so." I have always answered any questions I had regarding why God allows suffering in the same way: Because He said so. I've never doubted God's goodness, but I'd never thought to learn about it, either. I chose to read this book expecting to find a glossed over, heard-it-all-before compilation of thoughts and opinions. I expected to read it a day. Two days if I had to go grocery shopping or volunteer at the kids' school. A full month later, and I'm just wrapping it up. I've never come across a book that was equal parts dense and fascinating. This book addresses free will, the sovereignty of God, the origins of sin, heaven and hell. This book asks tough questions like: *If God is all-knowing, why did He create Lucifer to begin with - He had to know he would fall from grace. *If God is good, why does He allow all this suffering? *If God is sovereign, then why does he allow us to make choices that He knows will cause harm? He also addresses different belief systems and what they have to say about Yahweh. Then he shows you what the bible says about Yahweh. In addition to many stories and real-life experiences that he recounts for us - both from current events and from history past - this book is also beautifully rich in scriptural evidences to support each section. It is a lengthy book that most won't be able to breeze through, but aside from the scriptures themselves, I've rarely encountered a book that has so thoroughly changed my understanding of God. I no longer ask, "Why isn't God intervening?" Instead, I see each struggle as part of God's good and redemptive plan for my life.
Tgo More than 1 year ago
This is a solid, thought-provoking, and well-written book. If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil deals with the prime questions people ask today: 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? The book is laid out well, I would suggest if you are going to take the journey through this book which will be on my top ten list, I would use it as a devotional, reading a chapter a day for each section is short enough to read in one sitting. Alcorn deals with this tough subject using God's Word as his textbook and real life examples of people he knows and has interviewed. He never minimizes the evil, suffering and hurt of those he uses as illustrations, but sees them as heroes of the faith who have clung to God in the midst of deepest valleys. Some section titles include Understanding the Problem of Evil and Suffering, The Origin of Evil..., Proposed Solutions..., Living Meaningfully in Suffering, Why Does God Allow Suffering? This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing
PJtheEMT4 More than 1 year ago
The 512 page book, If God is Good by Randy Alcorn, published by Multnomah publishers, is among the most complete and exaustive Christian commentaries covering the most basic philosophical issues and questions about faith, suffering, evil and life in general. Countless numbers of people have questioned God's motives or God's goodness in the face of pain, suffereing and injustice. It is within our human natures to be appalled by the suffering prevelant in the world we live in. We can not escape pain, sickness, injustice and suffering within our own lives and the world around us- it is a fact of life. In fact, many seemingly good and otherwise reasonable people, when faced with the seemingly complex questions about the purpose and reason of suffering may often come to the conclusion that God does not exist- hence the all too common epidemic of athiesm and agnosticism. When faced with challanges and pain in life, so many people fall away or abandon their faith. Randy Alcorn addresses the most basic questions concerning the reasons and purpose behind pain and suffering, based on scriptural explanations. It is somewhat analagous to a defence of the bible, and it provides indepth explanation of the reasons and purpose behind pain and suffering. This book does not in any way minimise or dismiss pain and suffering, but it offers the comforting biblical explanations for its purpose. This book is way too extensive to be considered a self help book. In fact it is reminiscent of a textbook- with the extensive information provided and additional content. There are some anecdotes and real life stories of pain and suffering, which are used as examples through out the book but the author does not rely on his own personal anectdotes, which so many lukewarm writers seem to do these days just for filler purposes. This compendium is divided into 11 indepth sections, each of which delve progressively deeper into the issues and theology of the purpose of evil and suffering. The first section provides a good background into the philosophical issues of suffering and evil and each section which follows, progessively covers verious touchpoints building on the previous chapters. Sections are further divided into chapters, and each chapter is subdivided in easily digested passages. This book is very complete and does not leave out any details whatsoever. Not only for the inquisitive and curious skeptic, philosophy student or secular reader in general, this faith building book is sure to provide comfort for anyone going through a difficult time, or anyone who has some unanswered questions about their faith and God's purpose. Next to the bible, this book should be standard reading for anyone interested in seeking out the meaning and purpose to life. This book would be great for apologetics as well. This is not simply a casual book to be read once, but it is also a book that can be used as a reference by which to defend one's faith and belief as well. As a blogger for Water Brook Multnomah publishers I recieved this book for the purposes of writing a review.
McDawg81 More than 1 year ago
It seems a fair question, doesn't it? If God is truly good, as Christians insist, then how can there be so much suffering in the world? Since ancient times this question has led skeptics to believe that God cannot, must not, exist. Even today's so-called New Atheists show how little is really knew when they use the existence of suffering and evil as a linchpin of their arguments against God's existence. Quite simply, they say, if suffering and evil exist, then God must not. Yet though people have wrestled with this question and allowed it to drive them from the faith, many more have wrestled with it and have come to the conclusion that God does exist despite suffering. They have found that suffering is God's invitation to trust in him and to hold out hope for a better world to come. In the Introduction, aptly titled The Search We All Share, we read this: A Barna Research poll asked, "If you could ask God only one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?" The most common response was,"Why is there pain and suffering in the world?" This isn't merely a problem, it's the problem. As for the culture at large, it appears to pose a greater difficulty now than ever. If God Is Good is the latest book from Randy Alcorn who is probably best-known for his last major release, Heaven, which has sold well over a half million copies in hardcover. Weighing in at 512 pages, this is a good-sized hardcover that offers a thorough examination and defense of faith in the midst of suffering and evil. The topic Alcorn deals with in this book is a particularly difficult one. Humility and practicality, trademarks of his ministry, are evident in the books earliest pages. "If I thought I had no helpful perspectives on the problem, it would be pointless for me to write this book. If I imagined I had all the answers neatly lined up, it would be pointless for you to read it." He seeks to get right to the bottom of the subject and, as we learn, a sound theology of suffering touches upon many different areas. I found this book to be a great resource. I really