Suffering

32 posts

Suffering: “Our net of meaning is too small.”

To the ‘why’ of suffering we get no firm answer. Of course some suffering is easily seen to be the result of our sin: war, assault, poverty amidst plenty, the hurtful word. And maybe some is chastisement. But not all. The meaning of the remainder is not told us. It eludes us. Our net of meaning is too small. There’s more to our suffering than our guilt. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a son, (Grand Rapids, […]

Let’s be honest, why did Jesus die on a cross?

We are fast approaching Good Friday and the interwebs is filling with people post and reposting essays about the crucifixion. The ones that always nag at me are those that seek to argue that Jesus’ death was not somehow an atoning sacrifice offered for our sins.1 The usual objection is based upon a rejection of penal substation or any of the other various models of atonement theory. The link provided has a very nice summary […]

C. S. Lewis on God’s Sovereignty, Free Will, and Suffering

It turns out, judging by the notes in the margin, I had read C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain some time ago. I did not remember having done so, but perhaps it impacted my thinking more than it did my memory of the actual reading of it. Or perhaps I had already come to similar conclusions before I read his book. I have no way of knowing. Below are a few quotes from that […]

What does God’s love do?

A friend recently shared this quote from James Finsley and I am still not sure what I think of it. On some levels, it rings true. We are not protected from the vicissitudes of the world, the “effluvia of the fall,” as Carson calls it. But then, I am not sure. Please leave your thoughts and comments. “The love of God will protect you from nothing, but it will sustain you in all things.”  

The Utter Unacceptability of Death

My SEC colleague from Vanderbilt this week graciously gave me the gift of a slim volume by a former professor of his. The book is A Boy Thirteen: Reflections on Death (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975), by Jerry A. Irish. Their 13 year old son Lee died of meningitis in 1973, the second of their three sons to die within 4 years. The younger son had been born with a serious heart defect and died before […]

Beautiful and Terrible Things Book Contract

I am very pleased and proud to announce that I have signed a contract with Westminster John Knox Press to publish Beautiful and Terrible Things! The publication date is Fall 2020. I am so thankful for everyone who has and continues to engage with me on matters relating to the biblical theology of suffering and grace. This book is intended for all audiences and your feedback, pushback, and questions are integral to the refining and […]

Ruth in a time of Depression

This week the Daily Office readings take us through the Book of Ruth and today (Wednesday) we begin chapter two. The chapter opens with a bit of foreshadowing, letting us know that “Naomi had a kinsman on her husband’s side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.” I have written elsewhere that Boaz is a marginalized figure in the Book of Ruth, who has a key role but is […]

Raised Imperishable

So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.  1 Cor 15:42-44 The last two weeks (6th and 7th Sunday after […]

John Piper’s Warped & Harmful Teaching on Suffering

A few caveats to begin. Although I have known of John Piper for years, I am just now coming to read his teachings on suffering and the sovereignty of God. The book by that name is graciously made available for free download on his “Desiring God” site and is worth reading; there are multiple authors with thought-provoking comments. It was published in 2006. Finally, I know that he and the other contributors are motivated by […]