If you are anything like me, you sometimes get frustrated because of your own limitations. If only I could do more than one thing at a time. If only I could be more than one place at a time. If only I could instantly access knowledge to complete any task I wanted to complete. But I am limited, and no matter how much I improve my fitness, strength, or knowledge, I am always going to remain limited to the extent of my own mortal potential—limited by power, presence, and knowledge.
Ken has written a book that is going to make you consider your limitations. Maybe you have been suffering a terrible loss or a devastating tragedy and your limitations have become all too real for you. Maybe life is going terrifically well for you and you are feeling ten feet tall and bulletproof. Either way, reality abounds, and we are one day going to come face to face with our ultimate limitation—mortality. It seems to be only when we consider such issues as death and suffering in general that we actually begin to consider our own individual mortality. As Ken deals with the subject of death and suffering in this book, you are going to have plenty of opportunities to consider your own mortality. But as I read through this book, I found a much greater subject. Hope.
As you read through these pages you are going to have a clear choice. Will you get aboard the blame train with the rest of the world or will you find the clear message of hope in a God who can save us from this tragic existence? Humanity is always looking for someone else to blame, and it seems that it may as well be God. Do you notice, though, that the blame is always laid before a “loving God.” How could a loving God . . . ? If your God is a God of love . . . ?
Before we read this book, I think it is important to consider the God we dare to blame. Paul describes God in 1 Timothy 1:17: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.” Or how about Psalm 102:27: “But you remain the same and your years will never end” (NIV); Job 26:14: “Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” (NIV); Romans 11:33: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (NIV); 1 Timothy 6:16: “Who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen” (NIV) (emphases added).
These are just a few verses that tell us that the God we dare to blame is eternal, immortal, invisible, glorified forever, has thunderous power, riches of knowledge and wisdom, is unsearchable in judgments, is beyond our imitation, lives in unapproachable light, and will have honor and might forever. Perhaps we’d better have very good reasons for playing this blame game. Perhaps we should think very carefully before shaking our finite fists at the infinite Creator.
It really isn’t a fair fight, is it? The finite against the infinite. The limited against the unlimited.
It seems impossible, doesn’t it? How do limited, mortal, finite humans even comprehend a God like this, let alone have the arrogance to blame Him for something we have no idea about? If God is unsearchable and unapproachable, how can we even bother to ask? Reading this book made me contemplate an amazing truth about God. He has revealed Himself to us to save us from an impossible task of the finite finding the infinite.
Psalm 19:1 tells us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (NIV). God has revealed himself to us through the work of creation. But as Ken will also explain clearly, we cannot know the mysteries of this world by looking at creation alone, especially in its current form. In Psalm 19:7, the Psalmist tells us, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” The unapproachable God has revealed himself by giving us a written account. The Psalmist says that this account makes wise the simple. It’s the ultimate instruction book for the finite. The limited now have the opportunity to understand something that the unlimited has told us. The truths in God’s Word matching the physical environment we see around us has helped millions of believers to walk in a knowledge that most of this world have only dreamed of. From God’s Word, it is a powerful knowledge that becomes ours, and it’s ours to share.
Through the following chapters is something very special. My brother Ken will take you through a biblical study of death and suffering with the help of my brother Robert who has suffered and died and is now in the presence of the infinite God. Ken will recount some of Rob’s own words that he preached on death and suffering as a Baptist pastor before entering the suffering of a cruel and fatal brain disease. You will see answers to our problems of suffering and finite limitations in this world, but you will not get them from mere mortals. They are answers from the revealed Word of the unlimited. As Ken and Rob will outline clearly, the all-knowing and all-powerful God has revealed many answers to us in His Word. When we carefully and seriously take God’s Word as the authority, not only in our spiritual life but also in all matters that it deals with, we are left with eye-opening answers to the hardest questions in life. Not the least of these questions is “Why is there death and suffering?” Or if we dare to, we could be so arrogant as to ask it with a hint of blame by saying “How could a loving God . . . ?”
We all want answers to the things we desperately want to know, and we often don’t like the answers we do get.
It is true that our limitations in this life have us struggling with mystery. We all want answers to the things we desperately want to know, and we often don’t like the answers we do get. We particularly hate it when part of the answer to our mystery is mystery itself. There are certainly times that we have to let God be God, and that excites no man. It is in these times that the answers God has given us create the foundation for a faith that makes us comfortable knowing that we are in the hands of someone infinitely more wise than us.
My biggest concern with books that answer questions such as these is that we walk away without asking the question most needed. While it is a good thing to study the questions relating to our life’s problems, it is the answer itself that forms the most profitable question. If we can shed ourselves from our arrogant human pride long enough, perhaps we can ask it. Perhaps we can avoid, even for a short time, asking why we are suffering and contemplate why God has given us a solution. The great impact for me is that God has revealed not only the answer to our “why” question but also the solution to the world’s entire problem. He is the solution. He became the solution and He remains the solution.
When you have finished reading this book, please take some time to consider a different “why” question. Ask yourself this: “Why has an infinite God bothered to save me from a problem that I created by rejecting Him?” This is a question that does not have you arrogantly shaking your fist from the finite to the infinite but instead has you bending your knees in tears of thankfulness and amazement.
Yes, please read this book, enjoy it, and learn from it. But at the end, please ask the right question.
(Ken Ham’s youngest brother)