But this view simply does not correspond with any serious understanding of Christianity. After all, the most important symbol in Christianity is the Cross, which represents suffering, agony, and death. When Jesus spoke to Ananias, who was instrumental in the conversion of the Apostle Paul, Ananias was told, “I will show [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name.” Christ Himself warned His disciples that they would suffer for His sake; most of them were martyred for their faith. The Apostle Peter speaks about the suffering that Christians will endure for doing good. And in the book of Romans we read that we are to rejoice in our suffering because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope. On and on it goes…

Unlike Pat Robertson, I don’t pretend to understand how and why God acts in this world. Christians must reconcile their belief in the incarnation and their conviction that Jesus cares deeply for us and is involved in the affairs of man with suffering and tragedy writ small and writ large. It isn’t an easy thing to come to grips with; sloganeering and nice, tidy explanations melt when confronted with the pain of life. Even C. S. Lewis, a monumental figure in 20th-century Christianity, saw his faith buckle for a time after the death of his wife Joy (Lewis eventually recovered his faith, though he was clearly a different man).