“How could a good, all-powerful God allow suffering?” – Tim Keller

January 20, 2011


A few days ago I came across an excellent quote I’ve been wanting to share with you.  The quote comes from Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God in is chapter dealing with the problem of suffering in the world.  Near the end of the chapter Keller turns from the ability of God overcome evil to introduce resurrection in to the discussion (please bear with the length of the quote):

“A few years ago I had a horrible nightmare in which I dreamed that everyone in my family had died.  When I awoke my relief was enormous–but there was much more than relief.  My delight in each member of my family was tremendously enriched.  I looked at each one and realized how grateful I was for them, how deeply I loved them.  Why?  My joy had been greatly magnified by the nightmare.  My delight upon awaking took the terror up into itself, as it were, so that in the end my love for them was only greater for my having lost them and found them again.  This same dynamic is at work when you lose some possession you take for granted.  When you find it again (having though it was gone forever) you cherish and appreciate it in a far deeper way…
Just after the climax of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as he thought) but alive.  He cries, “I thought you were dead!  But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” [italics added by Keller]  The answer of Christianity to that question is–yes.  Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.
Embracing the Christian doctrines of the incarnation and Cross bring profound consolation in the face of suffering.  The doctrine of the resurrection can instill us with a powerful hope.  It promises that we will get the life we most longed for, but it will be an infinitely more glorious world than if there had never been the need for bravery, endurance, sacrifice, or salvation” (26)
Three things happened when I read this quote:
  1. I read it to my wife Kate.
  2. I found myself stirred–as I often am these days–to long for restoration in the broken things around me.
  3. I began to yearn more earnestly to live a life of thorough entanglement, of loves gained and lost, to tear down the insular walls that have kept me safe.  I do not wish to arrive in heaven to take pleasure in the restoration of only a few dear friends whose loss I mourned in life.  So, my soul, Love extravagantly!
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One Response to ““How could a good, all-powerful God allow suffering?” – Tim Keller”

  1. Karen Wulf Says:

    inspiring, as usual, but more deeply somehow. This is something I am going to chew on. Living life insulated for self preservation is still self focused, but the resurrection piece offers something to the equation I hadn’t considered. It is cousin to “this too shall be made right”


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