Chapter 6, “Hear Jesus Saying, ‘I Have a Purpose in Your Pain’” pp. 71-90
One of the first questions we ask in times of suffering is why. We quickly tie suffering and sorrow to a failure on our part or on the part of someone else. Maybe there is a hidden sin. Maybe we didn’t pray right. This is the same pattern shown in John 9 when the disciples were confronted with a man born blind. Guthrie points out on p. 73 that we never have to think we are suffering for our sin. Jesus has already done that - this is the Gospel. So why do we suffer?
Guthrie details several reasons we may suffer: consequences of sin we or others commit, natural results of living in a fallen world, supernatural attack, all are reasons for suffering. Under them all, we realize that God is in control. On p. 78 Guthrie clarifies that God does “allow” suffering but that he is not only passive. In many cases God brings suffering for a purpose. She goes on on p. 79 and following to explain that God ordains evil, but does it through other causes, thus remaining blameless.
The use of Joseph as a deliverer, Job’s faithfulness, and the suffering of Israel and Jesus are adduced as evidence that God brings suffering for good purposes. I question if this is the same as God’s remaining blameless by using instruments of evil. Yet Guthrie’s main point is that God ordains all that happens and uses it for good. He has a purpose.
Guthrie makes a very disturbing statement on p. 84 when she says, “What matters in the end is not that we know what or whom to assign responsibility to. What matters is that we are convinced that God loves us and that his love is not merely sentimental or a commitment to our comfort.” By saying this, Guthrie may as well open the door to any sort of belief, as long as you believe it, it must be right. Does it work for you? What is absent is Jesus’ work on the cross, a definitive work outside of us, accomplishing his purpose, rescuing us from sin and death. This foundation is sadly lacking.