The full question:

Is it possible for God to remain good while permitting evil and suffering? Discuss whether there are any possible reasons why a good God might allow humans to suffer?

Abstract

The question of God’s goodness and sovereignty in the face of evil and suffering is always a question for both theologians and critics of the faith. These two facets of God are not to be compromised but rather realise it is possible for God to be both even in suffering and evil. The reason God allows such suffering is not always, evident but the Bible does provide a number of reasons for such suffering. In the end there is a wonderful hope that God will finish all suffering for his people through Christ’s own suffering, and this is a comfort that holds fast the questioning believer even in the face of evil.

1. Introduction

In the current Western society, there is no explanation ‘and very little guidance’ in dealing with suffering and evil.[1] It is a difficulty the world over. When five thousand children are killed or maimed in one year because of war in one country[2], when cancer kills over nine million people every year indiscriminately[3] and when an earthquake brings a death toll of around three hundred thousand people[4], such catastrophes, not to mention the personal tragedies that every human experiences, brings the question to light, can there be a good God with such suffering? Some believe it is the Achilles’ heel of a theistic worldview.[5] Despite these beliefs, it is this paper’s contention that a Christian’s understanding of theodicy[6] is the most logical and comforting explanation of suffering and evil. The Bible never shies away from the reality of suffering and evil, yet it holds forth the truth of an omnipotent and benevolent Deity. This foundational element will first be briefly covered followed by the consideration of two vital questions that these concepts create: ‘How is it possible for God to be good if he is in control of everything, including suffering and evil?’; ‘Why would God allow humans to suffer?’. It is by considering these questions that God is seen as even greater, and suffering can be faced in confidence and comfort no matter the degree of hardship.

2. Foundations

Two foundations of the Bible are God’s goodness and his sovereignty. The issue with suffering and evil is that many believe this to be an impossibility. Either God is good and not in control or God is in control and not good. This is the conclusion of many who question Christianity. Some theologians also say, ‘that God is omnipotent though not good’.[7] This does not mean he is capricious but more that he is beyond good and evil and finite measures. Most theologians and philosophical geniuses, though, more readily discard God’s sovereignty and omnipotence.[8] The difficulty with either of these solutions is that both declare in the end ‘that the God of the Bible does not exist’.[9] For the unanimous testament of Scripture declares that God is both good and omnipotent.

2.1 God is Good

The first foundation of God being good is the ‘unanimous testimony of Scripture’.[10] Examples of this are in Exodus where God is revealed as, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness’ (34:6).[11] Deuteronomy is clear that all of God’s ways are just (32:4). Psalm five says God does not take pleasure in wickedness (vs. 4) and Habakkuk is clear that God is unable to tolerate evil (1:13). Throughout the pages of the Bible it ‘is saturated with texts expounding the goodness of God’.[12] This is a key building block in one’s foundational comprehension of God.

2.2 God is Sovereign

The next building block that is just as foundational to the witness of the Bible is God’s all-powerful sovereign will. It is a theological undercurrent found ‘in the whole Old Testament and indeed in all of Scripture’.[13] This is because ‘nothing is too hard for him (Jer. 32:27)’, ‘with him nothing is impossible (Gen. 18:14; Matt. 19:26; Luke 1:37)’, ‘his purposes always prevail (Isa. 13:24-27; Job 42:2; Jer. 23:20)’ and every prophecy that he declares ‘will surely come to pass (Deut. 18:21-22; Isa. 31:2)’.[14] God is in control over everything: creation (Job 9:5-9; 37:6-13; Ps. 104:14, 21-29; 135:5-7; 147:8-15; Matt. 6:26; 10:29; Acts 14:17; Col 1:16-17), the history of humanity (1 Sam. 2:6; 1 Chron. 16:31; Ps. 47:7; Prov. 16:9; 21:1; Job 12:23; Isa. 10:12-15; 45:5; Dan. 2:21; James 4:13-15), “chance” (Prov. 16:33), human life (Job 14:5; Ps. 139:16; Jer. 1:5; Matt. 6:11; Acts 17:28; Gal. 1:15; Phil. 4:19) , free choices (Exod. 12:36; 2 Sam. 24:1; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 1 Cor. 4:7; Phil. 2:13) and who will be saved (Matt. 24:22, 24, 31; Lk. 18:7; Jn. 6:44; Rom. 8:7-8, 29-33; 9:10-24; Eph. 1:4-5; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Titus 1:1).[15] The book of Ruth makes it clear that in a macrocosmic and microcosmic level God is in control.[16] Scripture teaches that God ‘works all things according to the counsel of his will’ (Eph. 1:11) for ‘his own glory’.[17] This is not merely something God had at the beginning when he created it all but he continues, constantly, in control and sustaining everything. Hebrews (1:3) states that Jesus ‘upholds (φέρων) the universe by the word of his power’. This present participle indicates a continuous action that is being performed. God not only preserves but also governs ‘or directs all things in order that they accomplish his purposes’ (Ps. 103:19; Dan. 4:35; Rom. 8:28; 11:36).[18] Scripture teaches that God is both good and sovereign. These two elements are indisputable and reassuring for anyone who struggle through suffering and evil. The first question that arises from the Bible’s position is, how can God be both? Do they not contradict each other? How can God be both good and in charge of evil?

3. How is this Possible?

If God is both good and all-powerful how is suffering and evil possible? There are a number of vital aspects to clarify in this question. First of all, suffering and evil find their origins in the disobedience of humanity (Gen. 1-3). It is important to realise that God created everything devoid of suffering, it was all good. Moral evil occurred when Adam and Eve rebelled against the Creator. God dispensed a natural evil as a punishment for the moral evil of humanity.[19] Gerstner then makes the astute observation that the problem is not really one of suffering at all. It makes sense that if there was no ‘adversity in a sinful world, God either would not be good or would not be omnipotent’.[20] For either God would be ‘unconcerned about sin being unpunished, and therefore not good, or he would be unable to punish sin, and therefore not omnipotent’.[21] Though this is an important aspect to grasp, it is difficult to come to terms with because generally people do not believe they deserve to suffer.

There are two difficulties with this answer. First, suffering still came into the world while God was sovereign. He did not need to allow the rebellion of humanity. Second, suffering and evil is experienced even by those whose punishment for sin has been taken by Christ on the cross. Why do Christians, then, still suffer? Furthermore, if everyone who suffers tragedy is simply told that they experience this because of humanity’s evil it can easily be an unsatisfying answer. For suffering presents itself in this world in a variety of ways and God is in control of it all. It is true that when faced with suffering and evil, an answer of why people suffer in a particular way is not always forthcoming. Part of this is simply that no one can know the complete mind of God. He does things beyond our reason, and when a theist admits there is no answer, at times, ‘does not by itself show that he is irrational in thinking that God does indeed have a reason’.[22] For God is both good and sovereign and thereby has a purpose for all he does. Furthermore, dispelling the concept of God or a higher being does not answer the problem, without God violence and evil is completely natural. Abandoning the concept of God merely aggravates the ‘problem’ of suffering and it also, as will be seen below, ‘removes many resources for facing it’.[23] To answer the second objection Christians still suffer, first, due to the consequences of their own actions, for Christians still make mistakes in this life. Second, they suffer because they still exist within a fallen world with sorrow, poverty, sickness and death. ‘Christians are saved in such suffering and not from it.’[24] As for the first objection, it leads to the question that remains, why would God allow such suffering? What could these purposes be?

4. Why Does He Allow It?

The final question to be considered of why God allows suffering has a multitude of answers when Scripture is studied carefully. Despite the plethora of answers, it does not mean a specific answer is always forthcoming. At times, the suffering one faces does not always seem to have an immediate purpose, but as stated above that does not mean God is without purpose for, he always accomplishes his will (Eph. 1:11). Hence it is possible for people who ‘understand God’s sovereignty have joy even in the midst of suffering, a joy reflected on their very faces, for they see that their suffering is not without purpose’.[25] At the same time, the Bible does provide a ‘grid reference for understanding to some extent what God’s purposes may be’.[26] The majority of reasons in which God allows suffering presented in Scripture is for the believer and hence this essay reflects the Bible’s emphasis. These are ten of many reasons possible, but are significant in answering the question of why God allows suffering in this world, predominantly in relation to a Christian.

4.1 Repentance

There is some tragedy that occurs within the apocalyptic book of Revelation and Jesus’ own description of tragedy that implies part of the purpose of some suffering and evil is that people would realise their need for repentance. Part of God’s purpose of judgement in Revelation is for people to repent, even though most refuse (e.g. 2:22; 3:19; 9:20-21; 16:9, 11). The murder of the Galileans and the death of eighteen people from the tower of Siloam Jesus told so that people would repent (Lk. 13:1-5). These tragedies were not because the people who suffered were any more sinful, but Jesus used it for the purpose of making it clear that ‘their fate is a warning to his audience of the urgency of repenting’.[27] As C. S. Lewis helps describe, ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world’.[28] Tripp can also see how suffering ‘does force you to face the reality that your life is in the hands of another’.[29] This is a vital purpose consider when suffering occurs. It awakens one’s eyes once more to the greatness of God and the weak hold we have over our own lives. Suffering and evil can cause someone to turn to God much more quickly than comfort, which more often creates indifference to God. One purpose of suffering, evil and judgement in the world is a gracious reminder from God for humanity to repent.

4.2 Christ Suffered

The key to answering why God allows suffering goes directly to the heart of Christianity. As suffering is the outcome of humanity’s rebellion of God, it is therefore ‘the way through which God himself in Jesus Christ came and rescued us for himself’.[30] Christ suffered ‘not just in one way but in every way, and he suffered not just for a period of time but for his entire life’.[31] It was through this suffering of Christ that he ‘took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God’.[32] This means that even though Christianity is not always able to provide the reason for why God allows suffering, ‘it does have a final answer to it’.[33] The cross is where God saves people and will renew the cosmos through his Son’s suffering, this ‘shows how much he loves sinner’ (Rom. 5:8; 8:32; 1 Jn. 4:8-10).[34] Christ’s great suffering means that when we cry out in pain to Jesus he ‘knows our pain because suffering of some kind was his experience from the moment of his birth until his final breath’.[35] Furthermore, ‘Christ not only suffered for his people but also suffers with them’ (e.g. Acts 9:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:26-27).[36] He can sympathise with his people’s weaknesses as their High Priest (Heb. 4:15) as they ‘share his sufferings’ (Rom. 8:17; 2 Cor. 1:5; Heb. 13:13; 1 Pet. 4:13), which ‘is a prerequisite to being glorified with him (Rom. 8:16; cf. 1 Pet. 1:16-17; 4:13; 5:10)’ and thereby leads a Christian to be able to ‘rejoice in afflictions’ (Acts 5:41; Rom. 5:3; 1 Thes. 1:6; Jas. 1:2).[37] One of the greatest comforts in evil and suffering is remembering Christ and the reason God allowed his suffering to display his great love for his people.

4.3 Greater Reward

Another comfort in suffering for a Christian that assists in understanding part of God’s purpose is the further enjoyment of his glory on this earth and in heaven. Paul considers this to be the case in 1 Corinthians where suffering has an effect on the experience of glory (4:17-18). Jesus also promises reward for suffering in Matthew (5:11-12). Piper agrees with Edwards that ‘one of the aims of God in the suffering of the saints is to enlarge their capacity to enjoy his glory’.[38] This allowance of suffering given by God is reassuring.

4.4 Embolden Others

Scripture also points to the purpose of suffering for the emboldening of others. Paul recognises this in his letter to the Philippians (1:14). Fee notes how Paul, ‘recognises that God has used his curtailment to prod others’.[39] Paul’s afflictions are used to help others (2 Cor. 1:6).[40] It seems that as then, so today, ‘God will use the suffering of his devoted emissaries to make a sleeping church wake up and take risks for God’.[41] Suffering for the Lord, can spur on others to bring greater glory to God’s name.

4.5 The Greater Good

The concept of the greater good is quite startling for a Western culture where the greatest good is one’s own happiness. Rather, the greatest good in the end is God’s glory and he so uses all that happens for his greater glory. So much so that he turns what is evil into what is good for his people (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28), which in the end is God’s glory. Frame concludes that ‘the greater-good defense, then, is that God does not do but certainly does will evil for a good purpose’. [42] He continues with the wonderful hope that, ‘the good he intends will be so great, so wonderful and beautiful, that it will make present evils seem small’.[43] God allows suffering an evil but in the end the good will come and it will dwarf the pain by what is good and God will be seen as forever glorious.

4.6 Imitate Christ

It is through suffering that we are made more to be like Christ. He is the example for the believer in everything (Phil. 2:5) ‘including suffering (1 Pet. 2:21; Heb. 12:3; Lk. 9:23)’.[44] This is not to say that a Christian’s suffering is expiatory as Christ’s suffering satisfies God’s justice completely and the believer has no need to suffer temporal punishment. This belief culminated in the concept of purgatory. Rather, by suffering God uses that to mould us to be more like Christ in his character (Rom. 8:29).[45] Powlison also comes away with this purpose of suffering for the believer when he writes how God designs suffering ‘for three reasons. He is revealing his abiding generosity toward you. He is removing all that is ungenerous in you. He is making you abidingly generous’.[46] It is through what a Christian faces that often creates a more Christ-like attitude.

4.7 Be a Witness

God can allow the suffering of believers to also be a witness. Amundsen states how suffering can be a witness:

To each sufferer of his own salvation; to the unsaved for their conviction; to fellow Christians for their edification, encouragement and comfort; to principalities and powers in according with God’s mysterious purposes.[47]

This is part of ‘the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it’ (Heb. 12:11). Paul is clear that his sufferings have been used to be a witness of the truth (2 Cor. 1:5-6; 1 Thess. 1:5-6; 2 Tim. 2:10). Furthermore, Paul rejoices in his sufferings to display Christ’s sufferings (Col. 1:24). Piper explains how this Apostle dedicated himself ‘to suffer with Christ and for Christ in such a way that what the people saw were “Christ’s sufferings”’.[48] God can also use the suffering of the church to spread the witness of the gospel to places it may not have gone before (Acts 8:1; 11:19). Ryken also sees the witness of the suffering Christian and how ‘there is something about seeing faithful believers endure suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ that helps unbelievers understand the gospel’ (2 Cor. 4:11-12).[49] Suffering can increase the believer’s ability to witness of the great offer of salvation.

4.8 Deepens Faith

The Bible outlines that a Christian’s suffering can deepen faith. Paul describes how he experienced this purpose of suffering in 2 Corinthians (1:8-9). Piper describes this scene as God knocking ‘the props of life out from under Paul’s heart so that he would have no choice but to fall on God and get his hope from the promise of the resurrection’.[50] The Apostle Paul summarises the purpose of his suffer ‘to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead’ (1:9). In Romans it is clear that suffering brings endurance, character and hope (5:3-5). It is because of this that it is possible to rejoice in suffering (5:3). Piper also sees how thousands of believers through the ages ‘have found that the suffering of life have been the school of Christ where lessons of faith were taught that could not be learned anywhere else’.[51] Powlison sees a twofold result of suffering in a Christian: ‘Suffering reveals the genuineness of faith in Christ. And suffering produces genuine faith’.[52] Keller compares the teaching of Christianity to other worldviews and sees purpose in suffering as a believer of Christ:

Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive u like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.[53]

The deeper one relies upon God the greater faith develops. Suffering is one of the strongest ways Christians are driven to rely on God.

4.9 Magnify Christ

God can allow suffering to magnify his Son. Paul understands this when he asks three times for a thorn in his flesh to be taken from him (2 Cor. 12:7-8). He is told that God’s grace is sufficient for him and so Paul then boasts in his weakness and is content in suffering ‘for the sake of Christ’ (12:9-10). Suffering ‘is meant by God to magnify the power and sufficiency of Christ’.[54] John writes in his gospel account that the purpose of Lazarus suffering and his sisters’ grief was ‘so that the Son of God may be glorified through it’ (Jn. 11:4).[55] Suffering is difficult to endure, but the desire for the magnification of Christ’s name in suffering can be a comforting purpose to those that experience it.

4.10 In the End

One of the greatest comforts in suffering is that God does not allow it to endure. In the end God brings an end to suffering. There are multiple reasons why God may allow suffering and the answer is not always forthcoming, but we do know that ‘God is never malevolent, unjust, uncaring, duplicitous or devious. He’s after the ultimate good for his creation to the moment when he will finally make all things new’.[56] In Christ’s death and resurrection his own suffering, it is clear that ‘even the worst things will turn into the best things, and the greatest are yet to come’[57] for a believer will ‘get a glorious, perfect, unimaginably rich life in a renewed material world’[58]. This is how Paul understands it in 2 Corinthians (4:8-9ff) for ‘there is an eternity of difference between the agony we face in this present darkness and the ecstasy we will experience forever in the brightness of God’s everlasting glory’.[59] Because of what is to come, whatever suffering that this life brings is unable to compare to ‘the glory that is to be revealed to us’ (Rom. 8:18). Furthermore, ‘remembering them will only increase our joy’ (Rev. 7:9-17).[60] Packer goes on to highlight, ‘thus through God’s sovereign goodness evil is overcome; not theoretically, so much as practically, in human lives’.[61] Keller summarises it well by phrasing it this way:

While other worldviews lead us to sit in them midst of life’s joys, forseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.[62]

In all of God’s purposes for allowing suffering, remember that God’s ultimate goal is the end of suffering for his people and the never ending joy of eternity.

5. Further Implications

The foundation of Christianity that holds God as good is often one of the first stones to be questioned. It is important to realise ‘the minute your functional theology tells you that God is not good, it’s very hard to hold on to the confessional theology that declares he is’.[63] In truth, suffering is not just physical or emotional, it is deeply theological and spiritual. Standing firm on the foundational truths of Scripture is how one finds hope in suffering. It is ‘not found in understanding why God allowed suffering’ but ‘ultimately our hope rests in the faithful and gracious presence of the Lord with us’.[64] For if God is good in everything and sovereign over suffering, ‘then the first and wisest move for any sufferer is to cast himself wholly on God’.[65] It is not enough to have an intellectual explanation for suffering and evil with a sovereign God. There must be room for weeping and the pouring out of one’s heart. Even if an answer is easily found, people who suffer should never ‘be shut down by being told what to do’.[66] There is comfort in purpose and with a sovereign and good God there is always purpose. Part of that comforting purpose is realising how God uses suffering as a tool which is ‘picked up by a Saviour of wisdom, love and grace to produce wonderful things in and through you that you could never produce on your own’.[67] May every Christian, with Paul, say in suffering and evil, ‘for the sake of Christ’ (2 Cor. 12:10).

6. Conclusion

Two of the great foundations of Christianity are called into question in the face of suffering and evil. These truths are undeniably clear within Scripture. A full explanation of how this is possible is not always forthcoming, but there are some arguments that can be resolved through understanding the sinfulness of humanity and the justice of God. Ultimately, the comprehension of God being purposeful is one of the greatest comforts. For he allows suffering for his purposes and his people’s good. This knowledge equips a believer to face suffering unlike any other worldview. In the end, it is not about an intellectually understood argument but more about a deep reliance upon a good and sovereign God throughout the pain of life. Until that day when God wipes away suffering one can always find comfort in his presence and joy in the hope of what is to come. This resolves the feeling in suffering of ‘this ought not to be’, into the contented cry, ‘He does all things well!’.[68]

Footnotes

  1. Timothy Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (New York: Dutton, 2013), 15.

  2. These were the statistics from only the first three-quarters of 2018. United Nations, ‘Children Suffering “Atrocities” as Number of Countries in Conflict Hits New Peak: UNICEF’, in UN News, December 28, 2018, https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/12/1029461, (accessed August 19, 2019).

  3. World Health Organisation, ‘Cancer’, in World Health Organisation, September 2018, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer, (accessed August 19, 2019).

  4. Richard Pallardy, ‘2010 Haiti Earthquake | Effects, Damage, Map, & Facts’, in Encyclopedia Britannica, May 2016, https://www.britannica.com/event/2010-Haiti-earthquake, (accessed August 19, 2019).

  5. John M. Frame, ‘The Problem of Evil’, in Suffering and the Goodness of God (eds. Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson; Theology in Community; Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 141.

  6. Theodicy is the term used for the explanation to show ‘that God is in the right and is glorious and worthy of praise despite contrary appearances’. It comes from the Greek word Theos meaning ‘God’ and the root dik- meaning ‘just’. J. I. Packer, ‘Theodicy’, in New Dictionary of Theology (eds. Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, and J. I. Packer; The Master Reference Collection; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 679.

  7. John H. Gerstner, The Problem of Pleasure: Why Good Things Happen to Bad People (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2002), 1.

  8. Gerstner, The Problem of Pleasure, 2.

  9. Frame, “The Problem of Evil,” 142.

  10. David Leyshon, Sickness, Suffering, and Scripture (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), 20.

  11. All Scripture quotations will be from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

  12. Frame, “The Problem of Evil,” 144.

  13. R. C. Sproul, Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life (Lake Mary, Fla: Reformation Trust Pub, 2009), 37.

  14. Frame, “The Problem of Evil,” 143.

  15. William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (ed. Alan W. Gomes; 3rd ed.; Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub, 2003), 146.

  16. Derek W. H. Thomas, What Is Providence? (Basics of the Reformed Faith; Phillipsburg, N. J.: P & R Publishing, 2008), 8–9.

  17. Westminster Assembly, The Westminster Confession and Catechisms in Modern English: 350th Anniversary Edition (ed. Rowland S Ward; Melbourne: New Melbourne Press, 1996), 70.

  18. Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith (ed. Jeff Purswell; Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1999), 151.

  19. This distinction of evil is important because God does punish moral evil with ‘physical’ or ‘material’ evil (e.g. Jos. 23:15; Job 2:10; Is. 45:7; Jer. 25:29; Mic. 2:3). D. W. Amundsen, ‘Suffering’, in New Dictionary of Theology (eds. Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, and J. I. Packer; The Master Reference Collection; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 667.

  20. Gerstner, The Problem of Pleasure, 3.

  21. Gerstner, The Problem of Pleasure, 3. He does well to then answer what he sees as the real conundrum, ‘the problem of pleasure’. For why would pleasure belong in a world that is sinful and deserving of judgement?

  22. Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 11.

  23. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 107.

  24. Amundsen, “Suffering,” 668.

  25. Sproul, Surprised by Suffering, 45.

  26. Leyshon, Sickness, Suffering, and Scripture, 59.

  27. Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 3:239.

  28. C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 2001), 91.

  29. Paul David Tripp, Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 21.

  30. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 77.

  31. Tripp, Suffering, 45.

  32. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 181.

  33. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 158.

  34. Packer, “Theodicy,” 679.

  35. Tripp, Suffering, 45.

  36. Amundsen, “Suffering,” 668.

  37. Amundsen, “Suffering,” 668.

  38. John Piper, ‘Why God Appoints Suffering for His Servants’, in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (eds. John Piper and Justin Taylor; Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 95.

  39. Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 114.

  40. Leyshon, Sickness, Suffering, and Scripture, 78.

  41. Piper, “Why God Appoints Suffering for His Servants,” 96.

  42. Frame, “The Problem of Evil,” 157.

  43. Frame, “The Problem of Evil,” 157.

  44. Amundsen, “Suffering,” 668.

  45. Leyshon, Sickness, Suffering, and Scripture, 59–60.

  46. David Powlison, God’s Grace in Your Suffering (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2018), 77.

  47. Amundsen, “Suffering,” 668.

  48. Piper, “Why God Appoints Suffering for His Servants,” 98.

  49. Philip Graham Ryken, When Trouble Comes (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2016), 130.

  50. Piper, “Why God Appoints Suffering for His Servants,” 92.

  51. Piper, “Why God Appoints Suffering for His Servants,” 92.

  52. Powlison, God’s Grace in Your Suffering, 14.

  53. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 30.

  54. Piper, “Why God Appoints Suffering for His Servants,” 106.

  55. Leyshon, Sickness, Suffering, and Scripture, 59.

  56. Tripp, Suffering, 177.

  57. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 318.

  58. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 117.

  59. Ryken, When Trouble Comes, 124.

  60. Packer, “Theodicy,” 679.

  61. Packer, “Theodicy,” 679.

  62. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 31.

  63. Tripp, Suffering, 92.

  64. Tripp, Suffering, 147.

  65. Leyshon, Sickness, Suffering, and Scripture, 21.

  66. Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 245.

  67. Tripp, Suffering, 185.

  68. Packer, “Theodicy,” 679–680.

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