The question of the Christian God’s existence and the role of suffering in the world of the Christian God is inevitable. Not only is it inevitable, but it is also a good question. A meaningful question.
Works that address the question simply restated, “How can a good God exists with so much evil and suffering in the world” abound, but too many of them default to the ‘Free-will’ argument or more recently “Open Theism” or “Open Futureism”.
Therefore it pleased me greatly to read ‘Suffering & Evil’ by Scott Petty, an installment from the ‘Little Black Books’ designed to help young adults tackle large-life issues. Mr. Petty at no point falls back on the ‘Free-will’ argument, choosing instead to use the Scriptures, particularly Job, to help the reader understand how a Sovereign God can in fact exist in a world full of suffering and evil. He essentially narrows his argument down to the fact that suffering and evil, though present universally among humanity, is painful for two reasons: 1) We haven’t seen God with our eyes, which may help us in knowing that He is taking more than a passing interest in us and 2) Our humanity limits our perspective: we can’t see the whole puzzle. And though painful, we can trust that God will be sovereign in our suffering, as He was with Job’s and that in the end, when we know more and see more, we will in fact see that the suffering was for our betterment.
Often times, when this question of ‘Theodicy’ comes up, I am inclined to challenge people to read Alexander Pope’s ‘Essay on Man’, as over the years I have gleaned much truth from it. However, it is a challenging read. To a lesser degree, William Cowper’s ‘God Moves in a Mysterious Way’ is another great poem dealing this question. But if prose is needed, and a short work at that, I can easily recommend Petty’s work.
I applaud Mr. Petty’s efforts, to answer a ‘deep-end of the pool’ question, all the while keeping the answer very palatable. Though specifically intended for a young adult audience, I believe that anyone struggling with this important question can find comfort in the truth of these pages.