The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering is a shorter version of Randy Alcorn’s work If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. I typically am turned off by theodicy's (defenses of God) as they often attempt to answer questions that Scripture never attempts to answer. If God does not feel the need to offer much of a theodicy I wonder why we do?
However, Alcorn’s book on The Goodness of God is much more than just an answer to the problem of evil. It’s gritty and honest, which is often missing in many such books. Yes, there are some times when I think he may be a little overly simplistic. I also do not think that this book is the absolute best to give to someone in the midst of intense suffering. This is a book to strengthen your faith in the midst of dark trials and in this regard it is very helpful.
There are two things that really struck me in this book. The first section that really hit me is one entitled “When Losing Faith is Good”. Here Alcorn says that there are times when “losing faith” can actually be a good thing. It’s a good thing to lose a weak faith. As our states, “any faith that leaves us unprepared for suffering is a false faith that deserves to be abandoned.” Great words. God is okay with us abandoning a weak or false faith so that he can replace it with one that is stronger.
The second thing that really impacted me was this statement, “Knowing that I’ll sit before God’s judgment seat—not he before mine—I choose to trust him. And the more I do, the more sense the story makes to me” (48). Yes, many will call this just blind faith. But it’s really not. It’s not blind because it’s informed by a tested guide (Scripture). Scripture proclaims this truth. And I need to believe that. To really grasp that I’ll stand before God and not vice versa makes me more like Job and less like his unhelpful counselors.
If only for these two things I would highly recommend this book. But there are numerous other stories and helpful anecdotes to help in our battle with suffering and evil. It is not as exhaustive as some books on suffering. Nor is it as personal as others. But it is a helpful little book that you can quickly read that will strengthen your faith in the living God.
I do wish that there would have been a little more interaction with the attributes of God and actually the book would have been well served to have spent another 10 pages or so on really fleshing out the title, “The Goodness of God”. That is the reason why it gets 4 stars instead of 5.
Rating 4 out of 5 stars
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Multnomah in exchange for a review. But it’d be worth your 10 bucks.