This week, we're featuring the book Too Good to be True: Finding Hope in a World of Hype by Michael Horton. Look for the orange sign in the church bookstore labeled "Book of the Week" if you're interested.
This past Friday, December 14, Americans witnessed a devastating and spirit crushing act of evil as a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and killed 20 young children and 6 adults, before killing himself.
The Psalmist cried out in Psalm 22:1-2: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? Om my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest." This is the cry of many right now as they grieve this terrible loss of loved ones.
How do we make sense of this? Where is the sovereign God? How could he possibly have allowed this to happen? In Too Good to be True, Michael Horton does not offer a traditional response to these questions. Many have written theological and philosophical theodicies wherein it is shown that it is logical to believe that a perfectly good and sovereign God can also allow evil to exist. Horton takes a different tack; here he focuses on our personal and emotional response to such grief - our existential experience of tragedies like the one in Sandy Hook.
You see, our society often downplays the gravity of things like death. People no longer die, they "pass on." Death is no longer the final enemy, it is a way that our loved one is able to "play golf with his old buddies again," or "visit with her deceased friends." And while Christians do believe that our death is our entrance into eternal life, it is still death and it is still ugly. Horton notes that in our grief and mourning, Hallmark platitudes fail to deliver comfort. Anyone who tells the father of murdered 6-year-old that "every rose has its thorn" should be ashamed of their naivete and insensitivity!
Where is God in all of this? He is where he always was. He is enthroned in heaven sovereignly administering his "almighty and ever present power ... by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures" (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 27). But he is not aloof, unaware of the grim realities we face in this fallen world, for he is the one who was "made like his brothers in every respect" (Hebrews 2:17). He assumed human weakness, yet had no sin, and faced suffering to the utmost as he, the innocent one, hung on Calvary's cross as the accursed. He, the perfect one, was banished from God's fatherly presence, bearing the Father's infinite wrath, shrieking the Psalmist's words: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!"
Michael Horton's book, Too Good to be True, does not downplay the evil and anguish that we encounter in this world. Instead he points us to the reason we can cry out against such horror as we witnessed on December 14, 2012, for death is not just "a part of life." Instead, God's word has shown us that things are "Not the Way they're Supposed to Be," to allude to the title of another important book on sin and evil.
Too Good to be True speaks timely and comforting words into this time of weeping. It fixes our eyes upon the new heavens and earth so that we can cry out to God, having full confidence that our prayer will one day be answered: "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"
Rev. Andrew Compton