As a few of you know, we are going through a very difficult trial in our home. Due to this, I have been doing a lot of thinking about suffering lately, and God's relationship to our suffering. I have two friends who have dealt extensively with these issues and have come to different conclusions. The first one is a woman I went to school with, who has a son with severe autism who accidentaly badly burned himself over a large portion of his body. Of course, the question of why a good God would let something like this happen to someone who couldn't even comprehend what was happening to him loomed large in her mind. She wrote a book about her journey searching for the answer to this question, and came to this conclusion: For the most part, God has a hand's off relationship to the suffering in this world. What happened to them and to their son was more or less the "luck of the draw", or circumstances working themselves out naturally. God had no particular purpose in mind to bring about from these events in her son's life. The other friend also went to school with us and is now one of the big names in the "openness of God" movement. A tragic event suffered by his family precipitated his journey into this theology. He explains his family's tragedy by saying that God didn't know for certain what would happen. God doesn't have a "hands off" relationship with the world, rather He is always working in the events of the human history, but He doesn't see with certainty events that have yet to take place, and so bad things happen even though God is good and all-powerful. My take on this is different than either of the previous opinions. In this time of suffering for us, I have taken great comfort in my belief that God has knowingly allowed this to happen to us because He has good purposes He is accomplishing through it. I may not know exactly what those good purposes are, and I may never know until glory, but I trust that God has his perfect reasons for allowing us to suffer in this way. I am curious as to your take on this question. How have you explained it when you went through times of suffering? Do you agree with any of these explanations? Or do you have a different one? Did you find any of these explanations comforting or not?