• Why write a book about pain and suffering? Many people have asked me that question.

    I usually respond by saying it’s because I love mysteries. If there is a bigger mystery than this one, I am unaware of it. There is none that could be any deeper.

    In some sense it was really a matter of curiosity. The question intrigued me from my earliest forays into rational thought. Though my radar was always up for any discussion on this topic, I never felt I encountered a convincing answer to this problem.

    Why does a loving God permit so much suffering and destruction?

    This is an immensely deep question and I was not interested in easy or incomplete answers. Maybe there is no God – yes, but how lazy and simplistic. Maybe we just have to trust in God – yes, but logically inept and completely uninspired. If there is a God, He clearly allows tragedy to occur all of the time. If there is a God, He would delight in the use of our intelligence as well as our faith to find Him.

    After all, this is not really a question of faith. This is not like trying to explain or understand the incarnation, transubstantiation, the trinity or other great mysteries that are really beyond our abilities to comprehend. This is, at its heart, a logical question. It calls for an answer that we should be able to understand.

    Perhaps most vexing of all, was the utter failure, at least in my experience, of the religious to offer wisdom on this topic. From Billy Graham to Pope Benedict, the common refrain was that we don’t know why. One day I even stumbled across a blog from a Canadian priest who mournfully lamented his inability to express any adequate thoughts on this issue.

    The question, therefore, intrigued me deeply. Sadly, I was born prior to the internet age. Google was not an option. I did explore a few books, but even C. S. Lewis fell short of a good explanation. As the question remained after all of these centuries, I presumed the ancients had not solved it either.

    When I realized the mystery had escaped all uncovering, it began to demand my attention in ways I could not long ignore. It intrigued me as one commissioned to a great task by an unknown power. I loved how this question, this creature, challenged me. I could think as long and as hard as I wished, but it was unmovable. Its brooding presence pulsed before me quietly and persistently. It knew I was pursuing it, but it remained always where it was – large and dark and deep.

    Reading a thrilling detective novel is a great joy. Being the detective in the novel is greater still. Digging up clues, conducting intellectual footwork, enduring dark corners and dead ends, encountering flashes of light and immense surprises – it was all there. This was a mystery of the highest order. Over time, I resigned myself to follow it through.

    Though I had no preconceptions from the outset, I knew there was a solution that would be worthy of the question. So, the first answer to the question of why pain and suffering, is that I thought it would be a great and worthwhile challenge. It was my chance to play Sherlock Holmes or venture out like Ulysses, even if only in my own mind.

    Though this explains my curiosity and fascination with the topic, it doesn’t quite explain why I wrote the book. Interest is far different than dedication or accomplishment. I began to write the book, because I felt an obligation to do it.

    In some ways the exploration of this topic is very much like a prayer. It is as if I was all alone, quietly and reflectively asking God to tell me the secrets of the universe. I was not sure what would come of it. But when answers started coming to my mind, I felt that they were all a great gift. This was a very long process, with many questions and many layers. To be given such a gift is to immediately feel the need to share it.

    Therefore in pursuing my interest, I found it to be a pearl of great value. I found answers that made sense and that all came together in one big picture. I began to draw great hope and motivation in the idea that an answer would be a great source of faith to those in desperation. It would also be a source of strength to those individuals who will need to confront the suffering that may eventually come. Lastly, I prayed that it could provide some encouragement to the dimming faith of so many of us living in a lost and secular age.

    A great mystery has a great solution. It brings everything together in an extraordinary way and makes sense out of all the twists and turns. The solution to the mystery of pain and suffering, does not disappoint. It ends in a deep and soulful reaffirmation of humanity before a triumphant God.

    The journey through profound tragedy provides both inspiration and peace. It has no end, but is only the beginning of the most compelling story of all. This has been the greatest mystery I ever encountered. It has been a labor of love from the beginning. Along the way I discovered a path, not of bread crumbs, but of priceless jewels. I wish to share them with you.

    Frank

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