We Reformed types have it good. I mean, really good. Call it the doctrines of grace or historic Christian faith or even the C-word (Calvinism) and you have to admit that sinners such as us have received something amazing. The Bible teaches us to cling to the exhilarating truth that God is powerfully sovereign over everything. One contemporary theologian known to the readers of Tabletalk has even dared to claim that there is not one maverick molecule outside of God’s domain.
What about suffering? Do you ever wonder how an atheist and a Christian might differ on their response? One denies the presence of any transcendent Being; one affirms it. A 450-word article is hardly the place to do this right, but let’s briefly consider the atheist’s celebrity du jour, Oxford professor Richard Dawkins. He coolly weighs the metaphysical implications of suffering, preferring to echo Darwin’s materialistic worldview when he says that suffering is “an inherent consequence of natural selection.” How succinct and heart warming! Prof. Dawkins, later in his writings, wants us to believe in the future of humanity’s potential. He inconsistently invokes words such as “hope” and “optimism” all the while asserting as fact blind, mechanistic evolution. With all due respect to his staggering intellect and professional accomplishments, Prof. Dawkins’ evolution-bound worldview is a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Somewhere in all of this I hear the echoes of Psalm 2 and the Lord’s derisive laughter.
We are not clever enough to fabricate the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and integrate it with the reality of human suffering. Can our doctrine deal with both unspeakable evil and routine frustrations like stubbing your toe? God provides in His Word rigorous truth that can withstand humanity’s hardest questions. The world and humanity were created good. Forbidden fruit was eaten in the garden and our tears started. Tears will continue until that day and in that place where tears are no more, and all shall be well.
Difficult problems will come. Dealing with them requires us to face the fact that these trials are sent by God. He is good in what He gives, and He intends good to come from what He gives. Face your trial reassured that the Christian knows, and is known by, a Father who is completely good and loving.
Chris Larson (@ChrisLarson) is president and CEO of Ligonier Ministries.