If God is good, why does He allow us to suffer trials and tribulations?
This question ceased to be just an interesting intellectual puzzle for me after the tragic death of my son a few years ago. In the aftermath of his death, a good friend recommended that I read a one of C.S. Lewis’ books. C.S. Lewis, as you may know, was a well known Anglican layman and Christian apologist of the 20th century. His most well known book on the problem of suffering was called “The Problem of Pain“, but my friend recommended another book, “A Grief Observed,” a very short work written in the month or two following his wife’s death from cancer. It’s a very personal, poignant book, and its rawness cuts to the heart. He shares many good insights in it, but one that riveted me was his discussion of suffering as a test:
“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t…He always knew my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”
As I was coming face to face with my own inadequacy in the aftermath of my son’s death, I was learning, or rather, re-learning, some important truths: He is big, I am small, and I am inadequate without His grace.
Suffering has the potential to reveal to me the truth about myself. It has the power to clear away the pretenses and self-delusion that are only boulders in the road of Christian discipleship. I cannot walk very far down the road with Jesus Christ, or even start down that road, without beginning to learn that truth.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9a