Here we are at the very end of another Christian classic. As of today we’ve come to the thirteenth and final chapter of John Stott’s classic work The Cross of Christ. He closes the book with a chapter titled “Suffering and Glory.”
Suffering & Glory
“The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation. Its distribution and degree appear to be entirely random and therefore unfair. Sensitive spirits ask if it can possibly be reconciled with God’s justice and love.” So this is not only a challenge for today (though certainly it is a distinct challenge) but a challenge for every day. The challenge of those who plead suffering as their foremost objection to the Christian faith is not new.
Sott says, “The problem of suffering is far from being of concern only to philosophers. It impinges upon nearly all of us personally; few people go through life entirely unscathed.” He goes on to state, “It needs to be said at once that the Bible supplies no thorough solution to the problem of evil, whether ‘natural’ evil or ‘moral,’ that is, whether in the form of suffering or sin. Its purpose is more practical than philosophical. Consequently, although there are references to sin and suffering on virtually every page, its concern is not to explain their origin but to help us overcome them.” His object in this chapter, then, is to explore the relationship between the cross of Christ and our sufferings.
By way of introduction, he mentions the standard arguments about suffering: suffering is an alien intrusion into God’s good good world; suffering is often due to sin; suffering is due to our human sensitivity to pain; suffering is due to the kind of environment in which God has placed us.