God’s promise to make all our life situations to work out for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28), is a promise for a complex good, not a simple good. C. S. Lewis distinguishes between the two. He discusses in 20 ptsdhis book, “The Problem of Pain” that most of life’s pains are simple pains. There is nothing complex about the loss of a loved one, or the death of a child, or an injury, disease or sickness. They are simple evils. We all understand them and it takes very little intelligence to understand them. Yet, God promises to mix all the simple evils of our lives into a more complex good. It’s the “working together” of both the good and bad and the blending of the specifics into a whole that will always work out for our good. It’s not a simple good, i.e., winning the lottery, getting that promotion, enjoying a great meal, or just appreciating the sunset. It’s a complex good, a mixture of the good things and the bad things in life that will, in the end, result it a far greater good than one can imagine.

Complex goods are far greater than simple goods. One Theological Journal article said, “God is not the author of evil. He does not promote evil, but permits it to bring about a greater good (Rom 8:28). ‘In the fallen and partially redeemed universe we may distinguish (1) the simple good descending from God, (2) the simple evil produced by rebellious creatures, and (3) the exploitation of that evil by God for His redemptive purpose, which produces (4) the complex good to which accepted suffering and repented sin contribute.’”

Coming out of Vietnam and later wars there has been a great deal of literature and discussion on PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.) I like what one writer said about it, “…there needs to be much more dialogue about PTSG (Post-Traumatic Stress Growth!). When seen through a biblical lens, nothing God allows into his children’s lives is an accident. It is not all good to be sure, but difficulties can be used to bring about some greater (complex) good in the person being developed (like Joseph in Genesis 37-50; esp. 50:20), and in the persons witnessing that development. Roses grow in rose gardens, but human beings grow through hardship, trials, and adversity. Even Jesus grew in his humanity this way. The Father made the Son (in his humanity) perfect, complete, and mature through suffering (Hebrews 2:10).”