First: the centrality of the gospel. We can only understand suffering in the context of what God has done. For one thing, it shows that whatever reason it is that God allows suffering in the world, it is not because he does not love us. One point in the sermon that really struck me was when Tim Keller stated talking about 1 Peter 1:12 , which says
It was revealed to them [the prophets] that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.What does this mean? Why is this gospel so incredible? Listen to this clip.
Another point really got me thinking - is it possible that God can use suffering to make some things better than they could have been without the suffering having taken place? Listen.
In case the audio doesn't work, or in case you want to read it again, the quotation by Dostoyevsky is:
I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small and fabrication of the Euclidian mind of man. That in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass, that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they’ve shed, that it will make it not only possible to forgive, but to justify what has happened. -DostoyevskyIsn't that an interesting thought? What do you think? Was any of this helpful to you? Challenging?
p.s. If you want to listen to the whole sermon you can download it for free on iTunes on the "Timothy Keller Podcast". It is titled "Suffering: If God is good why is there so much evil in the world?"