I haven't finished this book yet, but it's really drawn me in and made me eager to keep reading. It's been a little while since an event has captured the attention of the world, but the internet makes it possible for tragic images to travel around the globe and into our minds and hearts. Remember the first images out of Haiti? Or watching the tsunami strike Thailand? Have you been tracking the progress of the Chilean government as they try to reach trapped miners? Remember seeing people climbing out of windows in Columbine? And how about when it's personal? Like finding out a friend lost her battle against cancer? Watching the death of a marriage? Waiting for our own prodigal to return? Or seeing a widow leave a service in tears? Tragedy can wrap its arms around the world and draw us in as humanity, but it can also grab into the depths of our stomachs to overwhelm us with personal grief.
Philip Yancey deals with scenes like these in ten different true settings and circumstances, each time sharing the message of hope he gave in answer to the question, "What Good is God?" In a world that largely sees "God" as something irrelevant to life, Yancey tackles this question at some of the hardest moments in recent history.
In each of the ten chapters, he first tells the story of the setting or the event. Then, in the next segment, he shares the response he gave to the groups he addressed, messages of faith. As a journalist, Yancey doesn't always describe the world in the same terms I would use; he has an edge I don't have, but he has been called to go and do things I haven't been called to do. He answers the question of God's relevance to groups that would cause most of us to burst into tears or throw up our hands in confusion. Yancey says,
"What does religious faith offer peasants undergoing persecution, or students recovering from a campus massacre, or women who have spent years of virtual slavery in the sex trade? What good is God in situations like these? "
But God DOES matter in every circumstance and in every life, and the hope He provides shines into the darkest of places. Philip shares untold details of events in such a way that, I admit, will grab your heart and bring you to tears. It should. Sin and its ugliness should grieve us, but it also gives perspective to our own discouragement. If you're needing to rise "Up From the Dumps," What Good is God will help you see your own life more clearly.
I was privileged to receive this as a pre-release copy, and it will be available starting Oct. 19. You can pre-order it here. I receive no benefit from telling you this, other than the hope that if you read it, you'll be encouraged like I am, that if God is good in situations and lives like these, He is certainly good in my own "dumps." You'll come away more convinced God is great and sovereign and compassionate and faithful and that He loves people, and I'd call that a great read!
(If you're in my hometown and you don't have $ to buy a copy when it's released, I'm happy to loan you mine. I'll be done soon. :) Just let me know ...)