The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

What Makes God Better Than a Mad Scientist?

Posted on: September 13, 2016



This week we’re going to take another look at the theme of “coping with trials”. In addition to understanding the temporal benefits and the eternal rewards of trials, it helps me cope with trials to have an accurate concept of God.

When we, as Christians, look at all the pain, the evil, the suffering in the world; when we look at all the challenges and difficulties in our own lives; when we look at all the prayers we have prayed that didn’t get answered, and the things we prayed not to get but did, there comes a point at which it is impossible to keep from entertaining the question, “Does God love and take care of His children?”

After the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, A Grief Observed:

“When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels— welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.”

Many Christians have felt that same way at one time or another. Yet we must find an answer within our worldview. And, if you’ve been following this blog, you know that I believe an accurate worldview must alway deal with the question of Jesus’ resurrection.

In one post I have argued that it is safe to believe in God.  Elsewhere, I have argued that while I cannot intellectually or philosophically reconcile the existence of a good God with the existence of all the pain and evil and suffering in the world, I believe that there is an answer, and that when we get to heaven, we will know, understand, and agree with it. Until then, God simply has not chosen to illuminate that mystery to us.

So, I recognize that the problem of pain and evil in the world does not have a satisfying answer for many non-Christians.  For them, the Bible’s plea is to believe in, and receive Jesus (John 1:12) as one’s God and savior, to be able to ultimately escape pain and suffering.

Then, for Christians wrestling with the question of pain, evil and suffering, we begin by looking to the goodness of God:

  • Taste and see that the Lord is good, Psalm 34:8
  • Truly the Lord is good, 2 Chronicles 7:3
  • All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

But, how can we rest in God’s goodness when his children suffer so badly?

The answer can be seen in “the picture of” an accountant, who cannot draw an accurate tally until he has recorded all the deposits and all the withdrawals. To tally an account before all the figures are in always results in a miscalculation!

In the same way, the goodness of God must be determined in light of the end of things, and for the Christian, the final tally is not made until we stand before God in heaven and receive our final reward.

In the great “Hall of Faith” chapter in Hebrews 11, the writer of the book of Hebrews tells of believers who were tortured, flogged, stoned, sawn in two, and killed by the sword.

Yet, God’s goodness is never questioned. Why? Because, by faith, we wait until the end, when the final deposit is made to all of our accounts.

The apostle Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) That is going to have to be some “glory” to offset being flogged, stoned, and sawn in two! But it will be!

In the recent Olympics, Michael Phelps closed out his historic career, earning 23 gold medals. To earn that historic number of gold medals, Michael Phelps invested an historic amount of time. For example his coach reported that before the 2004 Olympics, Michael Phelps practiced 365 days a year for six years!

If the tally were taken before the Olympics… if the only thing he had received was the drudgery, pain and isolation of training… it would not have been worth it.

But in the end, Phelps acknowledged that all the effort was more than worth it. The memory of the drudgery, the boredom, the pain, the fatigue, the missing out of a normal life, dissolved in the strains of the National Anthem rising with the America flag over the medal stand.

So it will be for the Christian. The final tally will not be taken until we receive our eternal reward, and like being on the Olympic Medal stand, all the suffering to get there, severe as it might have been, will fade away with the strains of songs of worship and praise lifted to God.

God can only be “good,” God can only rise above the level of a mad scientist, if His goodness eventually comes down to touch His children. No definition of “goodness” would survive if God’s works only resulted in His own pleasure, but not His children’s.

But because, in the end, even God’s children will declare that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” then His goodness will be vindicated by the praise of those who suffered for Him.

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