In The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering, Randy Alcorn does an excellent job of succinctly and powerfully presenting a Christian worldview of suffering and the problem of evil. Alcorn’s book is filled with stories, quotations, and examples that make deep theological truths come to life for the reader. His argument is based on the the fact that God reigns as sovereign king over the universe. God does not avoid suffering but sent His son, Jesus Christ, to bear the weight of human suffering on the cross. With the gospel at the heart of Alcorn’s message regarding suffering, readers are reminded that God is going to make all things new and work in and through suffering for His glory and our ultimate good.
The most striking example that Alcorn gives is to explain the fact that God has a greater plan that we cannot see in the midst of our suffering. If you have ever seen a band perform on a field at a sporting event, the band will usually spell words and make designs through their formations on the field. If someone was standing on the sideline, the formations would look jumbled and the true meaning of the words would not be clearly communicated. If someone is in the stands, however, the true message and beauty of the formation would be clearly visible. God is a God who sits soverignly in the stands watching over our lives and suffering. We may be stranded on the sideline, but He is seeing the bigger picture. He will one day bring this picture to light for us when our suffering ends and we join Him in the heavenly stands. Until that day, we can have hope in the midst of suffering because God loves us and is in control of our lives, which will result in His glory and our ultimate good.
This is the hope of the gospel in suffering that Alcorn clearly presents to encourage his readers to hold on for the hope of heaven where God will make all things new.