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The Question That Never Goes Away

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  • Posted March 3, 2014

    Synopsis: After over a decade of traveling the world giving lect

    Synopsis: After over a decade of traveling the world giving lectures on Where is God When it Hurts, Philip Yancy has decided to revisit this subject in his most recent book The Question That Never Goes Away. I have not read his earlier book, so I can't compare the messages of each, but I assume the newer book has a similar message to the older, with recent examples and insights that he has gathered since writing the first book. 




    He starts by describing two different types of disaster: the devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan and the horrifying 4-year seige of Sarajevo in 1992. The first example is a natural disaster, but the second is man-made. Such disasters beg the question "Why?" Why would a God who loves us allow such destruction?




    Yancy points out that atheists have a field day with such calamity - using it as evidence that God doesn't exist. For, clearly, a loving God wouldn't allow such things to happen; therefore it is erroneous to believe in God. But Yancy counters: if, indeed, this is an impersonal universe of random indifference, why are the atheists so shocked and upset about someone else's tragedy? Clearly, their morals are shaped by the philosophical framework of Christianity. 




    Yancy continues by explaining that there's nothing wrong with asking the question "Why?" In fact, it is a question asked over and over again in the Bible. God expects such questions, and he understands our grief and frustration at getting no answer. BUT, He still doesn't provide an answer. Not in the Bible. And not in the world. 




    Yancy suggests that we shift our focus from cause to response. When disaster strikes, we should appreciate the outpouring of humanitarian aide that comes from individuals, communities, and countries. Yes - some of this humanitarian aide can be poorly planned, but notice what lies at the heart: love. We, as human beings, want to reach out and help those who are suffering. So where is God when it hurts? He is in those friends, neighbors, and complete strangers who reach out to help the suffering. God hates our suffering as much as we do - but he loves us so much that he sent his own son to suffer among us. Because we can relate to a suffering God. 




    Finally, Yancy criticizes the claim that God sends suffering in order to build character. He points out that Jesus healed the afflicted. He never once said to them "But think of how character-building this experience is!" Yancy points out that God has promised to redeem our suffering. This does not mean that God sends suffering, but that when tragedy occurs, He inspires and directs good to result from the evil. Thus, we do gain character from suffering. 




    My thoughts: This is a very difficult book to read because Yancy dwells on quite a few tragic events in detail. However, the book has a strong message and is written with a very humble and personal air. Yancy impresses me with his intelligent observations and powerful examples. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the question of why God allows suffering. I am eager to read more of Yancy's work.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This lenten season, I decided to teach the book of Job to my con

    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?

    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. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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