“God’s Only Excuse is Easter!”

flowersIn Disappointment with God, author Philip Yancey describes a series of conversations with a young friend named Richard, who has turned away from the faith.

One of Richard’s big beefs with the idea of God is the conundrum of suffering. This one gets us all. Why does a loving and powerful God allow suffering, and all that.

Over the last few years, I’ve felt a part of me becoming impatient with that question, as I’ve found too many skeptics to be merely hiding behind it rather than honestly seeking an answer. And there are answers. But I’ve tried to hold off my cynicism and remain understanding, for I know suffering weakens and disheartens. It’s especially true for the skeptic, as they have no hope of an “inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8) to sustain them.

After lambasting God for his treatment of Job, his apparent detachment from mankind, and every other angle he can, Richard eventually rounds it out with an interesting phrase:

“God’s only excuse is Easter!”

It was one of those phrases that sums up everything you’ve ever suspected but never quite has the eloquence or brevity to say.

I wouldn’t say Richard is theologically correct in saying that. God has, off the top of my head, at least one other great excuse for allowing suffering: the chance to demonstrate his ability to sustain and empower us in the middle of it. It’s quite Scriptural to say that this is sometimes the sole reason for our suffering: creating an opportunity for him to make our hearts ironclad, untouchable by despair and brimming with joy even in jail or on the sickbed.

But you have to admit: even if Easter were God’s only excuse, it’s a whopper of an excuse.

If the claims of Christianity are true, an afterlife is available whose gladness far outweighs any pain we experience on this earth (Romans 8:18) – and for those who reject it, a penalty whose horror far outweighs any peace, prosperity, or good we achieve on this earth.

Which means that judging God by what happens on this earth is…well, you can hardly call it a worthy verdict.

The ideas of heaven and hell may feel like cheap cop-out and motivation, respectively, for a church trying to boost its numbers. It may feel ridiculously out of touch with our modern era’s respect for what can be seen, felt, and proven. It may feel like the last thing you want to hear in the midst of today’s suffering.

But how it feels has no bearing on whether its claims are true.

That is why the claims of Christianity are too great to ignore, or dismiss as good-for-you experiential truth. They demand examination.

And if the story of the resurrection of Christ truly happened, if it bears examination then it’s all true – making the Gospel a message of enormous generosity, and enormous warning.

Though God is bringing all things together for his own glory first and foremost, he is hardly callous enough to leave our groaning hearts out of the equation. He has promised us rewards. He has prepared a great many things for those who will believe; he asks only that we receive him.

I pray fervently that the unbeliever might examine these claims.

15 thoughts on ““God’s Only Excuse is Easter!”

  1. Brandon, I quite appreciate your perspective on this issue. You will allow me join in the discourse…

    I don’t want to take it personal. But for argument sake, I will like to this question: Does the referenced Richard even understand the meaning of Easter at all? It doesn’t seem so, but that’s by the way.

    God has abundance of excuses to do whatever He wants to do, but hardly does He operate that way. His personal integrity ‘constrains’ Him alot, because God is always true to Himself irrespective of what men think or accuse Him of. And He is not responsible for most of the things we blame Him for.

    I know you agree, Brandon that he fact that there is suffering in the world does not undermine the loving nature of God. Any time, any day, God is a loving God. Believers in Christ know that much. What I feel is that unbelievers do often twist things to suit their purpose.

    Whenever we hear people day God allows suffering, it is always good to clarify the context, otherwise we may end up blaming God for what He is not responsible for.

    Suffering is largely the result of the disobedience of man. That’s the root of all suffering. If you look around, you can always trace people’s suffering to their choices or that of those around them…

    Suffering may also be as a result of satanic attacks. A believer in Christ will not doubt that this exists.

    For a believer in Christ, the only suffering we are ‘promised’ is the suffering or persecution for Christ sake. We should be able to recognise any other kind of suffering that does not align with this and resist it actively and deliberately.

    I am not suggesting that a believer can’t suffer otherwise. But we should be able to distinguish between what is caused by Satan from what God ‘allows’ – so called.

    In any case, God is always able to “make all things work out for the good” of the believer that trusts in Him.” To my mind, Easter is God’s best cure, not an excuse, for man’s suffering.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pingback: “God’s Only Excuse is Easter!” – christfollower85

  3. The question “Why does God allow suffering?” somehow makes man the judge over God. As a matter of fact if most people would care about God’s commandments much suffering would not take place. There is so much suffering inflicted by men over other men.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. But I find that even the Bible, God is gracious enough to answer questions even when he doesn’t need to. There are times when he simply declares his righteousness and tells us to deal (Job, Romans 9), but at other times he does reveal his ways, so the question is worth asking – if it is asked with an honest heart.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is true. Even in the psalms we find men speaking rather openly to God and pouring out their feelings before him. You can bring personal questions to God and seek an answer from him. Yet many people do not care about the Christian faith and they dismiss the faith saying God could not be a loving God as he did not so far eliminate suffering from the earth. So suffering also is a qestion for Apologetics. And to me your post brought some apologetic Argument too: God himself, his own son has been suffering on the cross. He came down to earth and got the full load of things come upon Him.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The devil and the sinful world cause suffering to try to cancel the faith of Christians, to pry us out of God’s loving hands. When we allow that suffering to remind us of the suffering Jesus endured to rescue us from the devil, the world, and our own sins, then the enemies lose and we gain victory through Christ’s victory. J.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Reblogged: “God’s Only Excuse is Easter!” – Jordy Leigh

  6. I like this,
    “…one other great excuse for allowing suffering: the chance to demonstrate his ability to sustain and empower us in the middle of it.”
    I also believe that God uses suffering to develop character, to build faith. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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