The second to fourth verses of the first chapter of James warns us that God will test us. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Only those whose faith rests on the twin pillars of God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness will be equipped to pass the tests God allows in our lives.
Immense human suffering caused three architects of the modernism to reject the idea that God is both good and sovereign. The effect on the modern world has been cataclysmic. The event was the Great Lisbon Earthquake.
It took place on 1 November 1755, at around 10:24 in the morning. It was followed by a tsunami and fires, which caused near-total destruction of Lisbon and adjoining areas. Geologists today estimate the Lisbon earthquake approached magnitude 9 on the moment magnitude scale. Estimates place the death toll in Lisbon alone between 10,000 and 100,000 people, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.
The Lisbon earthquake was a contributing cause of the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement that conquered the 19th and 20th centuries. When its three architects; Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78); Voltaire (1694-1778); and Immanuel Kant 1724-1804), saw the human suffering that occurred they did not “count it all joy.” Instead, they abandoned confidence that God is both sovereign and good. After the earthquake these three turned their backs on the goodness of God.
They failed James test.
In the same way, God will allow suffering. He will bring problems into our lives. When the happens we will be tempted. Is God really good? Can we really trust him?
The ultimate reason to trust God in the midst of suffering is the cross of Christ. There God showed himself, in the words of Paul Billheimer, the chief sufferer in the universe. The cross says God is willing and able to suffer with us, and God is willing to use suffering for our good and his glory.
Is that your confidence today?