The words of Ivan to Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov still haunt me. It is the problem of evil presented horrifically, designed to cast doubt in the tender and faithful heart of Alyosha. Ivan said this,
“There was a little girl of five who was hated by her father and mother… This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture by those cultivated parents. They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her for no reason til her body was one bruise. Then, they went to greater refinement of cruelty– shut her up all night in the cold and frost in a privy, and because she didn’t ask to be taken up at night (as though a child of five sleeping its angelic, sound sleep could be trained to wake and ask), they smeared her face and filled her mouth with excrement, and it was her mother, her mother who did this. And that mother could not sleep, hearing the poor child’s groans! Can you understand why a little creature, who can’t even understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and humble novice? Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted?”
That is only the beginning of the dialogue. Horror after horror, atrocity after atrocity is piled on. It’s awful. It’s almost too painful to bear. But it is life.
Interestingly, John Piper is read the quote above about halfway through the interview. In a day and age when many try to massage God’s Lordship over all things, Piper’s clear and insightful response to some of life’s hardest questions is both refreshing and instructive. He is a model to us in this interview.
The entire interview is superb. It is one of the best I’ve heard, when it comes to suffering and the sovereignty of God.
Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate
Must Listen Factor: Must listen. Everyone will benefit. And it will almost certainly stretch you.
Further Resources: It should be borne in mind that this interview follows a message Piper gave entitled, “Ten Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering and Satan’s Hand in It.”
And later in the conference, “The Suffering of Christ and the Sovereignty of God.”
Download Audio, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God Interview. See Picture.