Book Review: How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen?

HowCanAGoodGodBookCoverTitle: How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen?
Author: Mark Tabb
Publisher: NavPress

One of the most common objections to the idea of God in general and Christianity in particular is the question of suffering: If God is good, why do bad things happen? Traditionally, the “pro-God” answer falls into one of two categories: Either God is completely good, but not capable of intervening (as argued in Harold Kushner in Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People), or God is capable of intervening, but He’s not good.

You won’t find either of these in Mark Tabb’s book, How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen.

Instead, Tabb offers a third explanation, a biblical one, focusing on one of the most important statements in the story of Job: “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10 NLT)

Tabb does a wonderful job conveying the human perspective of suffering—the pain, the confusion, the frustration… everything that comes with it—but never strays from what Scripture has revealed about God. He provides strong answers that don’t minimize the struggles people deal with. What he offers instead is the truth that nothing is random, even if we can’t understand it. Even if we don’t ever get the “why,” God is working for our good. But, “[t]he good for which God works doesn’t guarantee happiness or comfort or miracles today. He works toward a far more permanent good” (pp. 99-100). But in the end, God owes us no explanation.

That’s the rub, isn’t it? God is completely good, completely sovereign—and not obligated to explain Himself. For us, this is frustrating, infuriating at times… but ultimately it’s a source of comfort. Because a God who we can completely figure out, who we can fit in a cozy box, is no God at all. So we learn to trust Him as He as revealed Himself, and we look toward the promises of Scripture. That there’s a day coming when He will wipe every tear, and there will be no more suffering, no more death. But for now, we wait for that day and press forward, serving others in our suffering.

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