Lessons Learned and Re-learned: Post-Surgery Thoughts on Job and the Faithfulness of God

Last summer, I had lung surgery (again), and my last post on that subject was in fact before surgery.  So how did it go?  Well, I’m obviously still alive, so I have that going for me.  High five?

A common question I’ve been asked about the ordeal is, “So what did you learn?”  The assumption seems to be that there was something very specific God was teaching me or there was some overarching reason that I could find that explains why my lung collapsed yet again.  In that regard, I can honestly say, “Nothing.”  Such an answer eludes me, if there is one.  However, when it comes to the affirmations of God’s faithfulness and goodness as I struggled (and continue to struggle) through this ordeal, I can also honestly say, “A whole bunch.”  Or at least, God proved once again that whatever may happen in this world, it is not enough to defeat his love that is found in Christ, nor does anything catch him with his pants down.

Job:  Does it give an answer?

I read quite a bit of Scripture when I was in the hospital, and one story I turned to was the Book of Job (cliche, I know).  Job has a lot to say about the problem of evil and suffering, or at least it seems to.  However, I happen to think Job is one of the most misunderstood books in the Bible and is almost impossible to preach or teach in sections; it’s definitely a work that needs to be read in its entirety to be understood.  I think the mistake of many teachers of this book is that they oversimplify it:  In essence, they point at Job and say, “Look how awesome of a job Job did in handling suffering!” and then exhort everyone to be just like Job and to not be like his friends.  While there is some general truth to this, the work is quite a bit more complicated than that.  For example, we like this verse and turn it into praise songs:

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Horrendous Evils: Another Logical Problem of Evil?

I’m just going to ramble here because I’m bored… so here goes.

In my God and Evil class, we are currently reading through a book by Marilyn Adams called Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God.  In it, she complains that the classic answers to the problem of evil, most notably by Alvin Plantinga, are too abstract and therefore do not really address the problem of actual, “horrendous” evils:  Evils that, as she defines it, make it such that we have prima facie reason to think that that the participant’s life (either the doer or the victim or both) is not worth living anymore.  This represents a serious challenge to God’s goodness, because she believes that for God to be good, he must guarantee that the good in an individual’s life outweighs the bad.

Now, keep in mind that Adams is a Christian (though perhaps a liberal one at Yale Divinity School), and her answer to this problem isn’t exactly wrong because she seeks the answer in the goodness of God’s very character.  Fair enough.  However, not only is she a bit unclear on this new logical problem (often sounds more like an evidential problem of evil), her standard of God’s goodness seems to be way off.

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