This lenten season, I decided to teach the book of Job to my congregation, which means I took the obvious route and decided to think about "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Philip Yancy's new book "The Question that Never Goes Away" addresses this very primal question.
Why do tsunamis happen and why do planes crash into buildings? Why do people die before their time? And why do gunmen storm into school yards and shoot little children? And then - if these things happen in our world - WHY does God allow them? WHY doesn't He stop them? WHY does it seem like there is so much evil in the world?
Back in 1997 Yancey wrote a book called "Where is God when it hurts" and since that time he has been invited all across the globe to share his perspective on the all-loving God who allows human suffering. This new book, "The Question that Never Goes Away" is Yancy's sequel and his reflections since writing that first volume.
Filled with relevant and recent topics, Yancey does a terrific job attempting to offer solace and comfort in a world that seems out of control.
Yancey has an easy to read "story-tellers" voice and this would make a great gift for that certain someone in your life that is climbing a difficult mountain, or enduring a darkened road. Well recommended.
It is a question that cries out for an answer when we can't wrap our minds around the Hand of God allowing pain.
Yancey writes with clarity and honesty, never deviating from the strong belief that God is Love, even in the darkest moments: Sarajevo, tsunamis, twenty little kindergarteners whose lives are snuffed out at Christmastime. Is God there? Does He care? Yancey examines these questions from a variety of religions and world views, including atheism, concluding logically that only Christianity provides hope and redemption for the heartache and pain of humanity.
Just 154 pages, this is an excellent book to give someone who has experienced great loss. Yancey's crisp, sweeping, journalistic style of writing includes thoughts from some of my favorite writers on the subject of pain: C.S. Lewis, Nouwen, Jerry Sittser. Because of Yancey's extensive research, many short quotes from other sources are shared. Two rather confusing ones made me pause though: one, an evolutionary view of how humans show compassion, and the other referring to "the God of 14 billion years since the beginning of the universe." Elsewhere the author affirms his own views on our Creator God, but the lack of clarification would make me hesitate a bit before I gave the book to an unbeliever.
Having experienced the loss of a child, I know that some of the greatest healing came to my heart from reading books people gave to me. I have a shelf dedicated to grief and loss and it's kind of a revolving library because I give away the best ones to others who would benefit. The Question That Never Goes Away is already headed to a friend of mine, so I will have to order my own copy to restock my bookshelf.
This hopeful, clear, healing little book validates pain while pointing to our Creator Who sent His Son to die so that pain and sin wouldn't define humanity forever.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free through the Book Sneeze blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review.
The sequel to Philip Yancey's best-selling book, "Where Is God When It Hurts", addresses the question of "why" in the midst of suffering. "The Question That Never Goes Away" takes the reader on a journey to three different parts of the world that were stunned by tragedies that befell them. In the span of one year, Yancey visits the scene of the devastating tsunami in Japan, Sarajevo, Bosnia where incredible ethnic cleansing ripped apart a region, and Newton, Connecticut where 26 adults and children were brutally murdered in their elementary school.
While never truly answering the question of "why", Yancey provides a framework for anyone undergoing suffering. He draws the reader back to the fact that no matter what painful circumstance we may be going through, God is with us. He reminds us that until eternity "..no answer to suffering will satisfy, even if we had the capacity to comprehend the answer" (p. 47). He brings balance to living in our present fallen world and remembering that perfection awaits us in heaven, our eternal home. Many of the stories he chooses to share in the light of these tragedies remind us that light does still shine in the midst of overwhelming darkness.
This book is a good read for anyone who is struggling with finding their way through pain or suffering. It may not hold the answers to "why", but it points us to the One who does know "why" and who suffers along with us.
(I've received this complimentary book through the Book Sneeze program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)