Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thoughts on "How Long, O Lord?"

I just finished reading "How Long, O Lord?" by D. A. Carson. (Yes... I read this for class. You can safely assume that homework is almost all I'm doing for the next week or so...)

Even though I have a crazy schedule in the next couple weeks, I though I'd take a moment or two to recommend this book to you. Carson's thoughts on suffering do not provide a quick fix, nor do they explain away the pain we feel. His book offers some pieces of perspective that will prepare Christians to have an unshaken theology when tragedy strikes.

Rather than attempting to conclude with a cheesy answer, Carson urges his readers to accept the truths of Scripture and live with their tensions. He spends an entire two chapters discussing the understanding of two seemingly contradictory things that Scripture holds as true: humans are responsible for their actions, yet God is sovereign over all.

This truth applies in a key way to suffering. Suffering is a consequence of human sin; we live in a world that is fallen. Still, we cannot deny the fact that, since God created a world that allows for suffering, He is in some sense behind it. Carson describes this as asymmetrical to being behind good: God is behind good in that He is always its direct cause, while He is behind suffering in that He uses secondary causes to accomplish His purposes.

Carson postulates a few possibilities for why God might have allowed suffering in the first place, but he ends by insisting that the only way to find rest is to seek to know God. Rather than finding a logical explanation for the tension, understand that it is part of the mystery. The mystery is in who God is, not in an outward evil. He is a God who wants to be sought.

I will freely admit that this is, at best, a very brief summary, and Carson makes the arguments much better than I do. Always, he supports his claims with Scripture, and in the end, he produces a theology of suffering that is very orthodox. I would encourage Christians to read the book, to grapple with the questions it asks, and, in the end, to seek to know God.

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy

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