To be sure, pain and suffering is something that touches all our lives in multi-faceted ways. As we live out our existence in a broken and fallen humanity we live between two realities, the already, and not yet. Because of the substitutionary work of Christ on the Cross, his raising from the dead and overcoming death, and his being seated at the right hand assures us that we have already been redeemed. However, on the other hand, we still feel the sting of death and feel the weight of a world groaning towards the consummation of all things in Christ.
If anyone feels the weight of groaning and a struggle to see things put right again, it’s John S. Feinberg. Included in his newest volume, When There Are No Easy Answers: Thinking Differently About God, Suffering, and Evil, he comes face to face with questions that have no easy answer. In 1987 he and his wife were faced with the diagnosis of an incurable, genetically transmitted disease. He questions, with children in their 30’s, whether or not this diagnosis is going to be passed down through generations. He questions the spread of the disease in his family, but what he does not do int he midst of tragedy, is question the goodness of God.
In our hurting world I have found that people want an experience of God that overshadows the lives they are leading. They want God to be something other than the mundane, boring, hateful, “Christians” they’ve known. We have the Holy Spirit of the Living God as a testimony to the truth of the Gospel. We have the very word of God “breathed out” for us and written down by faithful men. We have the hope of the world and we can relate to them because we have a savior who is acquainted with suffering.
Sure there are times he mentions not being able to understand the providence or God or if his wife even remembers that he helped her through her day. He wonders if his children will soon start displaying the symptoms of Huntington’s disease. In this volume we have the life work of thinking on these issues and a slightly variegated take on the issues of the goodness of God, suffering, and evil.
Feinberg comes to a very simple conclusion: “The God who is in charge today and who gives comfort, strength, and grace to hand today’s challenges will be there tomorrow to do exactly the same for those who ask him”. An answer like this comes through immense struggle and a deep reliance on the good, wise, and all-knowing counsel of the creator of the universe. It comes from a realization that we are, as B.B. Warfield would say, “in ourselves just miserable sinners still, deserving in ourselves nothing but everlasting wrath.”
This book is less about theologically “figuring out” the ways of God. It’s more about questioning God and examining what he says in his word concerning his good plans. It’s a story of determination to grasp God in the midst of confusion and darkness. It’s a story of hope even in the messiness of life. Learning to walk with God through suffering is not easy, but it’s possible. He is a God who gives grace upon grace in our times of need. He is faithful even when we are faithless. This story exemplifies this to the utmost.