Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In the Valley Part 2 {Husband's Thoughts on Suffering}

My husband is currently in Seminary. Yes, currently, as in he sits by Chloe's bedside, often times one hand holding her tiny fingers to comfort her, and the other hand holding his phone which he's doing his assignment or reading on. 

I sent him the link to the post I just wrote {we always edit each other's before it's posted}, and he sent me back this, his more biblically-in-depth view of why there is suffering in our fallen world, formed from his study of Job, Ecclesiastes and Habakkuk from his discussion forum post.

As I read Ecclesiastes, Job (and Habbakuk again) and the accompanying reading assignments, I begin to see how much we are very much like Job’s friends, carefully building philosophical perspectives to answer the problem of evil, which I would sum up as asking how a good and just God can allow suffering in the world. Yet, just like Job’s friends, our perspective is just not big enough.

This is a question that is very much a pertinent one for me right now. There is a little girl laying about 10 feet from me right now who is in a battle for her life stemming from a condition that she was born with. If Psalm 139:13 tells us that God formed her inward parts and knitted her together in Jodie’s womb, then we are tempted to conclude that God “got it wrong.” How does a perfect and just God form together a little girl who struggles so with life? Our modern thinking would launch into discussions about the fall of man, and the stain of sin (which is obviously in play here). We would talk about whether God was truly sovereign over these circumstances, or whether He gave up some of His control (hint, God is sovereign).

Reading from these books this week though, we can see that God’s answer to questions like this is to gently remind the reader that “the problem of evil” is asking the wrong question. As the chapter on Job was absolutely excellent, let me point a bit to the thinking there in the discussion. After carefully reviewing all of the responses to the problem of evil (where all three sides of the argument assume that the retribution principle certainly must be true), God’s answer transcends these arguments to show that He is above the logic and thinking. Walton sums up this answer by saying:

“God administers the world in wisdom, and from his sovereign wisdom justice results. We may be lacking sufficient information to be able to affirm that God’s justice is being carried out day by day. We do have enough, however, to affirm that he is wise. If we believe that he is wise, then there is good reason to believe that he is just.” Walton continues on: “A focus on justice demands explanation of cause and gazes at the past, whereas a focus on wisdom needs only to understand that God in his wisdom has a purpose as it fixes one’s gaze on the future.”[1]

Our perspective isn’t big enough to understand God’s plan. Habakkuk can’t understand how God can judge the Assyrians by using the Chaldeans (Babylonians). The response in Habakkuk 3 is once again a celebration of who God is and how He has worked in power. As we look back then from the historical perspective, we can see that Babylon is defeated by the Persians, who are supplanted by the Greeks, who are supplanted by the Romans and so forth. Since we don’t have the eternal perspective, we can only celebrate the God who has revealed Himself to us.

So, as I sit in a room, knowing that tomorrow may bring information that could heal our daughter, or information that will lead to loosing her, rather than ask why, I simply can trust in the God who revealed Himself through creation, His word, and most importantly through His Son. No matter the outcome, God is using Chloe’s life to accomplish His purposes, and though I can’t see it (and probably will never know how He used this situation), I can trust confidently in a God Who is wise, good, and finally just, knowing that He has told us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts and your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9-10)

[1] J. H. Walton, “Job 1: Book Of,” ed. Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 2008), 342.


  1. And so we rest our hopes and hearts in the only One big enough to carry them. I often think of Job now. How satisfied he is in knowing he destroyed the devil who sought his destruction. To know God used his suffering to humiliate the greatest of enemies, I suspect, makes Job feel now his suffering was a privilege.