Sunday, April 3, 2011
Book Review: The Goodness of God
Author: Randy Alcorn
Publisher: Multnomah Books 2010
The reality of suffering is ever present in this life and the world as we know it. Everyone born into this world will in some form or fashion suffer. The age old question that must be satisfactorily answered is why does evil and pain exist? Coupled with that question is why do we suffer. I think the two basic questions that are asked every generation is why does a God who is described as being all powerful and good allow suffering. The second question is why do I suffer?
Randy Alcorn takes on a true "Goliath" having written this book, The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering. He joins the company of countless other writings from various perspectives that range from non-Christian and philosophical to Christian and theological. He tackles this "giant" in a small, condensed version of a much larger work encapsulated in just 117 pages. This is not a thorough or deep dissertation on this monumental subject. In these few pages Alcorn does attempt to define evil and suffering and trace their presence to a source. Alcorn utilizes at least three chapters in an attempt to give the reader a biblical perspective on why suffering exists and why suffering affects so many people in the human race.
What I find more valuable than the attempt of Alcorn or any writer is that Alcorn spent the rest of the book in an attempt to draw the readers attention to the character and nature of God. Alcorn provides a biblical perspective by giving the reader a biblical worldview concerning the character of God. Here is the real value of this little abridged work that makes it a giant among its peers: in drawing the reader to the character of God, Alcorn assures the reader of a source of strength, a rational foundation, and genuine comfort for those who are suffering. The question ultimately is not why does suffering exist or why does God permit suffering. The question is whether there is any benefit to suffering and is their a means of being comforted as one suffers.
This short work gives the reader a proper perspective of a great and good God who takes no arbitrary pleasure in suffering, but is in fact at work in the suffering by revealing Himself as a good and loving God who will provide absolute comfort. This little work is a must read for all individuals, particularly believers who perhaps in the midst of pain and uncertainty need reminding of the goodness of God towards His creatures. The reader is not given unbiblical, unreasonable, and unattainable promises of quick fixes or deliverance from pain and suffering but is always directed to the nature of God. It is the nature of God that gives perspective and meaning to any question, but especially to the one of pain and/or suffering.
This book was a very easy read. It did hold my attention although much of the information is simple and basic. There are no surprises in this book. It is straightforward without being preachy or mechanical. Alcorn writes in a warm and re-assuring manner. It can be read in one sitting, but I recommend the reader take some time and savor the salient points and pertinent scriptures regarding this topic of suffering in the life of a believer.
The opinions and conclusions in this review are strictly mine. I received a free copy of this book but was not provided any incentive or pressure for a favorable review.
Posted by Gregg Metcalf at 3:00 AM