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Where Is God?: Finding His Presence, Purpose and Power in Difficult Times

Overview

Hard times make us look for God.

Everyone has problems. But if we could solve all our difficulties ourselves, would we ever search for God? Psychologist John Townsend says "It is actually the very unfixability of our problems and our powerlessness to bring right results that keep us asking, 'Where is God?'"

With a compelling narrative, Townsend offers new insights into the pursuit for God's help and presence. ...

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Where Is God?: Finding His Presence, Purpose and Power in Difficult Times

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Overview

Hard times make us look for God.

Everyone has problems. But if we could solve all our difficulties ourselves, would we ever search for God? Psychologist John Townsend says "It is actually the very unfixability of our problems and our powerlessness to bring right results that keep us asking, 'Where is God?'"

With a compelling narrative, Townsend offers new insights into the pursuit for God's help and presence. Designed to give readers hope and meaning, he divides the discussion into three parts:


  • Why does a loving God allow us to experience difficulties?

  • How is God active in the middle of our hard times?

  • How can I find God?

With powerful stories and practical applications, Where Is God? assures readers that even when it feels as though God is absent it is his nature to be in relationship, to connect with, love, and guide us. And when we seek him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, he shows up in ways that transform us forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Theodicy-why God allows suffering and evil-is one of the thorniest problems Christians and other theists face. Psychologist Townsend, coauthor of the bestselling book Boundaries, has eschewed an academic perspective and written a commonsense volume, specifically for those suffering hard times and asking about God's purposes, sovereignty and even goodness. Supporting his ideas with personal anecdotes and multiple biblical citations, the author argues that suffering and destruction are a result of our freedom to choose God's ways or our own ways. God's intentions for humankind are good; God is present in all circumstances; God is compassionate; and God wants us to seek help from each other, asserts the author. Most of all, God (and the author) offer the suffering hope, founded in God's promises for this life, Christian community and the life to come. While there is little that isn't out of the evangelical playbook, Townsend brings refreshing honesty and distaste for conventional pabulum to the subject.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780849946868
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/29/2009
  • Edition description: International Edition Only
  • Pages: 240

Meet the Author

Dr. John Townsend,psychologist,speaker, and leadership coach,has been helping millions of people for over two decades.A visiting professor at Dallas Theological Seminary,he iscoauthor of the two-million-seller, Gold Medallion Award-winner Boundaries.
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Read an Excerpt

WHERE IS GOD?

FINDING HIS PRESENCE, PURPOSE, AND POWER IN DIFFICULT TIMES
By JOHN TOWNSEND

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2009 Dr. John Townsend
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7852-2919-3


Chapter One

POWER, PRESENCE, AND PROTEST

In researching this book over the past several months, I have asked a good number of people what the phrase Where is God? actually means to them and if it resonates for them at some level. I have yet to hear one neutral answer, such as, "I don't know. It sounds boring, irrelevant-no interest." If fact, the answers have been quite the opposite. People have said:

"It's something I think about a lot these days." "Oh my gosh, I ask the question whenever I look at the news." "I thought that when I got sick." "Yes, where was God when I was laid off ?" "I have friends in hard times whom I have no answer for." "Didn't Larry King ask that on his show the other night?"

However universal the phrase may be, the idea has several understandings for different people and for different situations. We don't all mean the same thing when we ask, "Where is God?" I have found there are three different questions people ask when they think or say it.

THE POWER QUESTION

I was at a restaurant the other night, and a three-year-old boy was walking around the tables nearby his family. He came to a stop directly behind a waiter who was taking an order, at an angle from which the waiter couldn'tsee him. When the waiter turned around, he tripped over the child. Luckily, he was very agile and broke his fall at the last second and avoided landing on the boy. Nevertheless, it was a loud and abrupt event, the kind where people around stopped talking to see what had happened. I jumped out of my chair to help, but things were OK.

From the little boy's point of view, however, things were not OK. Immediately, he made a beeline for his dad's chair and crawled into his lap, crying. This response was not one he had to think about. He automatically looked for his parent during a stressful situation that was beyond his ability to fix or understand. He headed for someone who had the power to make things all right again.

As adults, we have the same need for God when we are in tough times. A situation is over our heads, beyond our capacity to fix, and is not getting better. We ask, "Where is God?", and it is a question of His power, His capacity, and His ability to fix a bad situation. We don't have the resources or wisdom to handle the problem ourselves. We need a miracle. We want His power to restore our health, find a good job, or put together a fractured relationship. We look to God for the answer, and that is the right direction to look.

Our tendency is to be strong, self-sufficient, and dependent on our own willpower, but rather than try harder, we should reach out to the God who is all-powerful: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You" (Jer. 32:17 NKJV). This is the question I was asking on the Antarctic glacier. When I was in trouble and contemplating falling into the freezing ocean, I wanted power. Protection. Action. A miracle. The strong hand and powerful arm of God.

I have also noticed during this economic downturn that more of my friends talk about God in this way. That is, friends who aren't involved in church or spiritual activities are looking for God. I was at a party with a neighbor who had been laid off, and he mentioned prayer to me, a subject he and I had never broached. The context was that he was praying for a job opportunity. As a result, our conversation took a deeper and more meaningful turn than it ever had before.

So be aware that your question may be a real question, a search for One who can move mountains and do miracles, for He can.

THE PRESENCE QUESTION

Sometimes these three words indicate a desire, some sort of longing for a relationship of closeness and intimacy with God. It is what a wife says to her husband at dinner, when he seems preoccupied or distant: "Where are you?" Meaning, "I can't experience your presence or your heart right now. The lights are on, but nobody's home. What's going on inside you?" She feels a little lost or disoriented, not knowing what he is feeling inside. She is asking for presence, for "being there."

We are designed for more than simply receiving power from God, a relationship in which He does superhero feats to help us. Ultimately, we long for His presence, a connection of closeness with God: "As the deer pants for the water brooks, / So pants my soul for You, O God" (Ps. 42:1 NKJV). God's love for us goes far beyond rescuing us. He wants to be with us in a deep and abiding way. He seeks us out. In fact, before we ever asked, "Where is God?" He first asked the same question of us: "Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?'" (Gen. 3:9 NKJV). He is the real seeker, not us.

It's hard to ask the presence question during difficult times. Struggle and pain come to the forefront and take up our energy and attention. We don't tend to be all that relationally oriented in the middle of a crisis. My presence experience with God happened at the glacier's summit, when things were perfectly beautiful. I would have had to make an effort not to appreciate God then; His presence was all encompassing at that moment. Presence, however, gave way to a need for power when the winds and ice hit us.

Yet one of the signs that we are growing in faith is when we begin to seek God's presence when things are dark and hard. Continuing to seek Him when He doesn't come up with the power goods, as we would like Him to do, but recognizing He is there still, comforting and encouraging us, indicates a deepening and maturing of our inner selves as we continue to let him develop us.

Today, I showed my sons, Ricky and Benny, the passage Job 13:15 in the Bible: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (NKJV). It is one of the most difficult and profound statements of faith in the Bible. We talked about the reality that, while we are to ask for God's power to help solve our problems, the spiritual life doesn't stop there. Ultimately, if He takes everything away, if He doesn't relieve the problems, and if He even takes us down, too, we are to seek Him and hope in Him. I didn't want to discourage the boys from hoping for a good life-I hope they have great lives. But I wanted them to also see that there is something beyond our circumstances, and that is an emotional, from-the-heart connection to God, no matter what is going on in our lives. We will explore this more fully in the chapter on hard times and faith.

THE QUESTION THAT IS NOT A QUESTION

Finally, sometimes "Where is God?" is not actually a question. In my work as a psychologist, I have found this to be a significant issue. For many people who struggle, there is no real and true answer to the where-is-God question that will satisfy them. No explanation from a theological level, a spiritual level, a psychological level, or any level will make a difference to their current conditions. That is because many times, "Where is God?" is not actually a question they're willing to receive an answer to. It is a protest. It is a statement of how badly they hate what is going on. It is a desire, a wish, a cry of pain and anguish. It is an emotional reaction to a great difficulty. The desire simply says, I want things to be better. I want the bad times to go away so I can live my normal life. I want my child to straighten out. I want my husband to love me. I want to feel better, not sicker. I want to find a mate. I want a job so I can take care of my family. I simply hate what is going on, and I want things to be different. These are protests, not questions.

The most profound and moving where-is-God question that has ever been asked in history is that of Jesus in His own agony on the cross: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46 NKJV). He was not asking for clarification, an answer, or an explanation. He knew what was going on behind His pain. He knew every reason for what He was experiencing, for He had planned and predicted His own suffering. Speaking to His disciples, He said, "Listen ... we're going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead" (Matt. 20:18-19 NLT). In that moment of pain, Jesus was uttering the question that was not a question.

We often see this in parenting. Kids will ask why they can't watch TV all night or eat junk food or text message during dinner. And as every good parent knows, you answer the question once or twice, and then you say, "I've given you all the reasons I have. Maybe this is more about you just wanting me to change the rule. I'm sorry, but the rule stands."

Our teenage kids still don't like our curfew rules. But my wife and I finally figured out that after we explained our position several times, they were no longer asking us a real question. It was a desire couched in a question: "I want you to let me stay out later." That helps. When we realized this, we no longer wasted time reasoning when reason isn't the issue at all. So it is helpful when we struggle to think about what we mean deep inside when we ask, "Where is God?" Am I trying to make sense of something that seems insane or evil? Or am I in such distress that I simply have a very strong desire for things to change, and it comes out of my mouth as a question? If it's a true question, then we can be open to the possibility of answers. If it's a desire, our efforts need to go toward either doing what we can to achieve that desire or toward learning how to grieve, let something go, adapt to the painful reality, and move on. So the nature of "Where is God?" will direct you to what your next steps are to be.

I have also found that this question can be about protest and understanding at the same time. On the radio program I cohost, New Life Live!, a caller will often ask about a spouse's behavior and emotional distance. A wife will say, "I want to know why my husband won't talk to me on a deeper level." I'll ask her some questions and get background information on the relationship. At some point I may offer an explanation like, "It may be that he experiences intimacy as unsafe, and he may believe, if he opens up, he'll be rejected or put down," or something to that effect. In all the thousands of calls I have ever heard on the program, I do not remember one in which the caller then said, "OK. I just wanted to know why he's like that. Thanks, bye." Not once. The call always evolved to, "How can he open up more?" or "What can I do to help him?" or "What is the next step?" We can also be that way with God. "Where are you?" can be both a protest against a problem and a search for understanding and perspective.

Chapter Two

WHY ASK WHY?

My wife, Barbi, and I are both kid-loving people by nature. Her entire career has been in the public elementary school system, and I was raised in a large family. We have loved having our two sons. However, during our childbearing years, Barbi had two miscarriages. Our sadness and disappointment in those periods were profound. We were aware that statistically, half of all pregnancies end that way and that these are very common losses for couples. Still, we grieved, and it took some time for the feelings to resolve. We felt the emptiness of where we thought those children should be, in our home and in our lives.

Like most parents who go through this, I spent time asking God why we encountered these losses. I don't remember thinking that God had treated me unfairly or unjustly. Many of my friends and the people I have counseled have felt that way, so I understand it, but I didn't feel it. In my case, it was more that I wanted to make sense of the loss if I could. The issue was, I'd like to know why this happened. And it was certainly a lingering question in my grief.

Fortunately, we had some very caring and supportive friends who helped a great deal. They spent time with us during those days. They were warm and they were present, and that is what made the most difference. The most helpful ones simply asked how we were doing and listened to us talk, sometimes praying with us. They made themselves available to us.

At the same time, other friends were a little less helpful, though not intentionally so. Their approaches didn't help us really move on from our loss. One lady, for example, who had her own struggle with God, talked to us about how unfair it is that there are so many loving parents who can't have more kids. Another said that God had a special reason for this, and it would become clear to us. And another told us it was simply nature's way of solving a problem. Though I appreciated the sentiments, these ideas didn't move me down the path of resolving my sadness. They seemed to make things worse instead of better.

In time, however, the emotions dissipated for us, through our friends, God, time, and the grief process. It has been several years since those days. I don't think about the miscarriages often anymore, though the feelings of sadness about the loss of a potential wonderful relationship still do arise occasionally. In fact, when I was talking to Barbi about these losses in preparation for writing this book, our sad feelings returned to us. But that is what memory is about. It's a way of honoring someone who matters to us. I would never want to forget these kids, even though I never knew them. I have returned to today's path, relationships, and responsibilities, and that is where I live. I don't know what God's specific purpose was in those times of loss. But I don't really feel that I need to. However, over the years, in my own studies and experience, I have found some ideas which have made sense for me and which are the subject of this chapter.

When we are in tough circumstances, most people ask a second question in addition to, "Where is God?" It is, "Why does God allow suffering?" In other words, how can a loving, caring divinity allow us to be in crisis, have sicknesses, and encounter natural disasters? Is He unloving or powerless or judging us or what? This is one of the most often-asked questions in human history. There have been innumerable books written on the subject. I recently searched the phrase God and suffering on Amazon.com, and the result was over seventeen thousand books. This is an important and significant question. We all need to grapple with it, and hopefully we'll come to some sort of conclusion that makes sense.

The two questions are related. The why is more theological and philosophical in nature and is concerned about understanding the concepts and abstracts. The where is somewhat more personal and has more to do with an interest in God's ways, His activities, and how we can interact with Him in times of difficulty. As a psychologist, I have found that when people are experiencing struggles, such as the ones we are dealing with, they often want to talk about the more conceptual issues before they get into the emotions, the process of healing, and the action steps they need. This can be very helpful. By doing this, they are not avoiding pain or discomfort or retreating into an imaginary world of ideas. They are, in fact, working on creating a foundation or a thinking paradigm for themselves so they can better understand what is going on. It is similar to a person who finds he needs surgery and asks his physician every possible question about the procedure. The information helps him feel less anxious, less confused, and a little more in control of matters.

As I mentioned earlier, the question of why difficult times occur is a well-researched topic. It is thousands of years old and is one of the central issues in philosophy, theology, and psychology. Many intelligent, educated, thoughtful, and spiritual people have wrestled long and hard with this question. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus has the first recorded statement of the problem from an intellectual perspective:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?

Centuries earlier, however, Job asked the same question from a much more personal and in-the-moment perspective: "Why is life given to those with no future, those God has surrounded with difficulties?" (3:23 NLT). The reality that this topic has been so thoroughly discussed means that you will benefit from knowing what others have said. The point here is to make sure you read some of the thoughtful books about the question of God and hard times. (You can find some suggestions in the appendix section of this book.) You will agree with some and disagree with others because they do not agree with each other. And if you are jarred by something abnormal going on in your life, if you are concerned about why bad things happen to good people, or if you want to make sense of the character of God in a world that doesn't work, I think you have a healthy curiosity about some very important things.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from WHERE IS GOD? by JOHN TOWNSEND Copyright © 2009 by Dr. John Townsend. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

Introduction: Where Is God When I Need Him? xiii

Chapter 1 Power, Presence, and Protest 1

Chapter 2 Why Ask Why? 9

Chapter 3 The Pie Chart 17

Chapter 4 Freedom in the Service of Love 27

Chapter 5 The God You Must Not Seek 43

Chapter 6 A Hope More Than Wishing 61

Chapter 7 The God Who Suffers with Me 73

Chapter 8 The God Who Works Behind the Scenes 83

Chapter 9 The God Who Transforms You 93

Chapter 10 The God Who Connects You with Others 109

Chapter 11 The God of Faith When There Are No Answers 125

Chapter 12 Hard Times Are the Access Code 153

Chapter 13 Expect the Good 159

Chapter 14 Nuts and Bolts 179

Conclusion 199

Appendix: Books on God and Suffering 207

Notes 209

About the Author 211

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 1, 2012

    Highly recommend

    I have had this book for awhile to review but I have had a difficult time getting through it. It was not because it wasn't a good book - it is very good. It was because the book hit really close to home for me. It was amazing. As our family went through some of our trials, I was asking some of the same questions - and this book really was very good. It was helpful to have things said that I knew but in time of trouble had put in the back of my mind. One of the chapters I really enjoyed was The God of Faith When there are No Answers. Sometimes bad things happen and there are just no answers. At that point, we just have to cling to Him, knowing He is carrying us though and have faith that there is some good that will come out of it. It is an amazing book and I really recommend reading it.

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  • Posted December 30, 2010

    You should read it! It is or will become timely for you!

    Where Is God?" by Dr. Henry Townsend

    Dr. Townsend did a terrific job of addressing our need to since the presence of God in difficult times. He remained true to reality while reconciling our need with God's will. And he did so in a culture where we have been handed a truck load of apostasy when it comes to this subject. It seems that many people are looking for a god they can hide in their pocket and have him handy when they need life to go their way. Dr. Townsend presents the reality of How God uses circumstances to grow us and how that life is about God's will and not our desires. This book offers major biblical principles for our lives.

    It's no secret that life is sprinkled, if not drowned, in circumstances that are painful. Everybody who lives for any length of time knows that they will face the death of loved ones, financial challenges, tough decisions, and an array of circumstances to long to list. And if my guess is correct everybody, and yes I mean everybody, has asked the famous question; "Where is God?" So often we could interpret that question to really mean "hey God, look what's going on here, do something". And we generally have a specific "something" in mind for God to do. However, God's will is more important than our desire. God's will is perfect even when we do not understand it.

    Knowing that God's will is perfect is one thing. Accepting the perfection of God's will is another. But when experience and God get together we will do one of a few things. For instance, we can become angry, we could grow cold and bitter, or we could grow in our knowledge and love for God. You see, if God indeed created us for His will and His good pleasure then certainly the details are important to Him. It is when we allow the details to shape us into the image of His dear Son that we begin to understand where God really is. And Dr. Townsend has done an excellent job of reconciling our need with God's presence in our lives. If we can learn to apply the principles offered in this book we can begin to since the presence of God in our need. For our desire should actually become what God's will is for our lives. It is then, and truly then, that we begin to experience the presence of God.

    Dr. Townsend hit a home run with this book in my opinion. The principles offered here are an excellent tool for spiritual growth. The principles are based on the Bible, God's Word. Having said that, the principles found here are based on the heart, mind, and the will of God. If we can learn to look at our life in perspective with God's will we can find the answer to our question, "Where Is God?" He is at the center of all things working all things toward His good pleasure.

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  • Posted December 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    WHERE IS GOD?

    "Where is God?" This is probably the most often asked question of the day in our world of divorce, economic hardships, layoffs, sickness, and depression. In this book, Dr. Townsend tackles this age-old question. Through personal experience, years of Christian counseling, and a healthy dose of biblical principle, he enables the reader to understand what brings us to the point of questioning God's presence in our lives.

    Townsend cements his writing in three over-arching themes that he further develops throughout the book: God is for us and working on our behalf, our experiences matter to God, and Bible is our only source for understanding difficulty. What I liked most was that Townsend did not hide or sugarcoat the reality that life can be difficult and cruel. Instead, he challenges the reader to look first to God in their search for understanding. This book is thorough, encouraging, practical, and helpful. Townsend lives in the real world, rubbing shoulders with people who face the difficult question, "Where is God?" in trying times. He carefully addresses the question from every angle, giving encouragement and solid suggestions based on Scripture. Biblical passages are woven beautifully into the principles and suggestions. Anyone in any circumstances would profit from reading this well-written book.

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  • Posted September 28, 2010

    If you have ever wondered where God is, you must check this out!

    We've all been there. We feel it as we sit in the waiting room at the hospital, waiting for the word from the Doctor about whether or not they were able to get all of the cancer. We feel it when we have to drive our child to their doctors appointment, so toxic radiation and chemo can be put into their bodies.

    In times of personal trial and struggle, we ask ourselves "Where is God. Where is the God that supposedly loves me enough to die for me, yet he makes me have to face this situation. He has all the power in the world to change these circumstances if he really could, yet he doesn't". "What kind of God would sit up there and twiddle his fingers while we are down here barely surviving these heart-wrenching dilemmas we all face.

    In the book "Where Is God", author John Townsend discusses the mindset of these thought patterns. He articulately describes what most people feel at some point in their lives when they wonder where is God. It is in times like those that God's true power and mercy are able to be felt more than just seen with our eyes. He intervenes on our behalf when we just don't have the energy. He offers a safe place of refuge, even when life itself seems unbearable.

    What a great reminder that our perspectives are often skewed so we can't even see what is really right there all along.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    Practical Advice For Hard Times

    When I agreed to review this book, I wasn't sure what I'd find. I hoped it wasn't another "God will get you through the hard times if you just trust him" type. But this book is different. This book takes into account your feelings, frustrations, and strong emotional distress when you are going through a difficult time and doesn't ridicule you for them. Instead it gives permission to ask questions like "Where is God". It even shows that God put that into you, so you would seek Him for the answers. This book gives practical advice on how to trust God when things are falling apart without denying the emotions and turmoil connected with the situation. Best book I've ever read on the subject.

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  • Posted March 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Life's Questions Answered

    "Whatever your struggle, God is there for you." - cover copy
    Everyone has big, daunting problems that make us wonder how we're going to resolve them. We need books like Dr. Townsend's Where is God? In this book the author answers the age-old questions: Why does a loving God allow you to experience difficulties? How is God active in your hard times? How can you locate Him in these rough circumstances? His answer: Major problems mean just one thing: Now is the time to seek God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and allow Him to show up in ways that will change you forever. (Cover copy excerpts)
    Learn what God has already provided, how He responds to our struggles; where to look for encouragement and peace. Is God really on your side? Does He have a workable plan? If so, how do you hook into it? Within this book you will find compelling stories, real-life examples, and empowering realities that bring hope, enduring perspective, and motivation to follow the Lord to eternal success.
    Dr. Townsend has authored or coauthored 20 book in 20 years, selling five million copies, including Boundaries, his Gold Medallion Award-winning, two million book seller.
    Reviewed by Audrey Hebbert, author of Green Light Red Light

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  • Posted March 9, 2010

    Where Is God? By John Townsend

    Everyone goes through different struggles. Having dieses or losing a loved one to name two. There are others losing their jobs, houses, cars during this economic downturn. But where is God during these times? This is the question John answers this book.
    The main reason why we go through difficult times is because we live in a fallen world. When Adam and Eve fell they allowed sin to enter the human race. John Townsend tells of three categories of sin, which might be causing our hard time. They are "Sin By Us, Sin Against Us, and Sin From A Broken World System." We must understand that these are the main reason why we go through difficult times.
    One of the take a ways from this book was when John Said,"Relationships, connecting with others on a need level often make differences between a crises overcoming you, or you overcoming it." The key is to have people in your life that can hold you up when are times come.
    John wrote this book with to help others while using the word of God and his many years of being a psychologist. He has an even balance of the bible, stories, and examples from his own experiences. A few of the topics he discusses is: "God Suffering with us, God working behind the scenes, God who transforms us, God connecting with us, and expecting God." I have and will continue to recommend this book to the many people who need it.

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  • Posted March 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Where is God - Dr Townstead (Good , but a bit drawn)

    Everyone has problems , but is it in us to search out god purpose for the problems we have ?







    Dr Townstead tries to help you understand why god lets bad things happen , he tries to explain how god brings you closer and influences you to desire him and how god is working behind the scenes.


    I found the book a bit uninteresting but that may because its the third of its kind that I have read in a short period of time. Bad things happen , god makes lets it happen , because as you prune a tree to help it grow so does god do with us. Putting us under pressure to instigate change in us and how we view HIM. I had a hard time trying to read this book because it woudl alternate between teh clinical state of being written and the dramatic recreation of potent memories. I would grow tired of droll repitition then be sparked with just enough drama to keep me moving through the book.


    I think that this book is not so much about biblical standard as understanding the relationship between god and man and how he prunes and repairs us. I would and have recommended this book to those on their journey to understanding god and trying to understand the dramatic pain and loss that they have felt in their lives.


    Its a fairly good book and well worth its weight. WHich is something I value. It may not be at the top of the list but it made the list.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    Draw closer to God during the difficult times

    "Where Is God?: Finding His Presence, Purpose and Power in Difficult Times" gives some excellent advice on how to draw closer to God during the difficult times in your life. During these hard times many people wonder if God really does care about them, if He really is aware of their struggles, and how a loving God can allow great heartache and tragedy. This book answers those questions.

    I started reading this book shortly after my infant son passed away. Thanks to some godly advice from a pastor in our church I didn't struggle immensely with many of the "Where is God?" types of questions during this very difficult time. I did, however, wrestle with the "Why us?" question. "Why did we have to lose our child?" While the book didn't give me a concrete answer to that question (and I never expected it to!), it did encourage me to draw even closer to God during this difficult time. The book is easy to read, with quite a few examples from the author's life to help explain different concepts. I especially liked the final chapter, "Nuts and Bolts", because it discusses how to incorporate "time with God" into your life without it becoming just another task to check off on your to-do list.

    Knowing that the book was written by a Christian psychologist, I was curious to see how much of the book was built on the Bible, and not just on psychology theories. I was glad to see that Dr. Townsend's writings are very strongly based on Biblical truths. He references quite a few Bible verses throughout the book to help explain and reinforce his points. If you're a Christian with a close, personal relationship with God then you probably won't glean a lot of new insight from this book. I think the book is best suited for new or struggling Christians, or even non-believers.

    I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted February 24, 2010

    Just okay.

    Where is God? Sadly that seems to be a question on many people's minds and hearts. The question is normally asked during a time of trial. It's easy to believe in God during the good times but what about the bad times?

    I think we have all seen someone who questions God during a trial. Maybe you have even been one to question God during a trial. If so, this book may give you the answers you seek.

    My impressions of the book were neutral. While I realize there are enough reasons for a crisis in faith to fill a book, I think it can easily be summed up in a few words and verses. However, the book explores the reasons behind why you feel a sudden crisis of faith when you face a challenge or trial. That may prove useful to many going through a difficult time. The stories in the book also give someone struggling a sense of not being alone or seeing that other do survive and have victories in the end. I think the book is best for new Christians or a new Christian face with his first real trial. In the end, seeking God's Word from the source is the only true comfort. I really didn't need 200 or so pages to lead me to that conclusion.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    Really Where is God?

    I found this book to be really hard to "get it". Dr. Townsend wrote this book with the understanding that everyone's belief in God using bad things to happen to help strength us is different. The book uses a very methodical way of answering the questions that arise when you feel like God has just abandoned you and you have nowhere to turn. With this question always being asked this book will have uses and he does do very well at relating everything back to scripture and God. But I never really found anything hit me deep in the heart.

    For a non-believer or a new christian that is seeking God, this would be a great book to read while struggling with the question of "Where is God?", but I would not recommend it for someone who has really established a relationship with God.

    I review for Thomas Nelson books and received no payment beyond a complimentary copy of this book.

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  • Posted February 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Where Is God?

    This book is timely. If you are in a dark time in your life where you feel alone, isolated, and without answers, this is the book you need. God is there and Dr. Townsend helps point you to Him. In the darkest moments when the world feels like it is crushing you, God is there helping to hold the weight. Search for Him. This book came to me at just such a time and gave me hope and not the ohope that is talked about today but real hope that only comes from the Creator God.

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    Where is God?

    In our darkest hours we cry out to God "Where are you?" It often doesn't matter how close our relationship has been, in those days of heartache, we don't always see His work or feel His presence. Having lived in that darkness, I am drawn to books that offer help for the suffering Christian. There are only a handful of books written for struggling or suffering Christians that I recommend. This book, Where is God? by Dr. John Townsend, is one I will highly recommend.

    Spiritual pain is often worse than physical pain. Dr. Townsend understands the intensity of the problem and gives solid scriptural counsel. He offers hope and understanding without condemnation for the suffering Christian. His scripture based message is one that makes sure the reader understands who God is and how He stays with us even when we don't feel His presence. Dr. Townsend explains that we often have a distorted view of God and it is those views that often cause us to struggle with matters of faith. I think this was the most interesting part of the book and reminds us not to try to make God fit into our own images of Him.

    This is a book I would recommend for those going through trying times, for church libraries, for anyone that offers counsel, or is interested in Christian psychology.

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

    "A timely book for this ever increasing crisis in our life nowadays"

    "A timely book for this ever increasing crisis in our life nowadays"

    From the way the book was presented as a whole, I can see a dedicated group of people who worked hard to bring this amazing book to life.
    What makes this book easy to digest was, for it was a reality based book like a mirror where we can see our selves in and the way the author supported his ideas. As a Psychologist, it really helps him to see how a person thinks under life's tough times. Together with his and other people's experiences, vivid and on the record experiences that can make a mark on the reader's mind for to them to have additional references for such life's tough times. Being supported greatly by some of God's words through His Bible makes a firm foundation for this book to be rooted and to be credible.
    There are some verses from the Bible mentioned by this book for the readers to search, for them to have participation on the process and for them to find face to face the answers.
    Let's put it in this way, the where-is-God question is a frame of a cube; this book fills up every sides of that cube that makes it easier for us to handle and to grasp the reality of it.
    Based on the pool of our limits and capabilities, we have our own ways of making solutions for our problems, some of us says "I am strong, I can face whatever this world has to give" after reading this book, you can have a deeper sense of solving and perceiving your problems and you can even say "I am much stronger now, with God right by side everything will and always be good".

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted February 10, 2010

    Typical Townsend

    I just finished Dr. John Townsend's book Where is God? I had read his book Boundaries a few years ago, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into. Boundaries was a great book for me at that particular time in my life. I learned a lot of lessons from it and was looking forward to the same type of experience with Where is God?

    I think the reason that I didn't connect with this book is because I am at a different place in my life. I understand the audience for which the book was intended: those who are facing difficult times in regard to their health or finances, their marriages or their Christian walk. While my life certainly has it's adversities; I am not experiencing a crisis of faith. I know that God is with me in my difficult times, because I have gone through enough of them and God has never left me.

    That being said, I really appreciated the way that Townsend used stories and anecdotes to illustrate his points. There are so many people who can't understand having faith in a God that you can't see. This book talks about God's promises to us and how He will be with us whenever we need Him; especially in the most difficult times.

    Townsend talks about the typical types of problems people have: functional, relational, health or catastrophic. He addresses each of these and then spends the rest of the book on personal growth and having a strong faith in God.

    I got through the first half of this book relatively quickly; Townsend is a good storyteller and his conversational style is easy to follow. But the last half I found myself trudging through because I felt that it was like so many other Christian growth books I have read.

    To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I must post that Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book to review. The opinions are mine and mine alone.

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  • Posted February 3, 2010

    Looking for God in tough times?

    Dr. Townsend does a great job with his latest work "Where is God?" in showing that no matter the circumstances, God is there and very interested in what's going on in our lives. Dr. Townsend uses Scripture, personal stories, and the stories of people he knows to show the importance of not missing God's presence and interest in our lives. If you have wondered about where God is during tough times, I would suggest reading this work.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Where Is God ?

    I received this book from Thomas Nelson book review bloggers program. I loved this book so much.. This is a question we all have asked one time or another. In Dr. John Townsend's book he uses real life examples & awesome stories of how others have asked Where Is God? Chapter 3 is probably my most favorite The Pie Chart, in it Dr. Townsend talks about The Percentages, where you break down whatever problem you are having and see where the problem lies. If it's you than pray, work out the solution & leave it at Gods feet. If it is others at fault pray for forgivness & understanding. If it's the world's we need to try to make it a better place but also realize and accept the way things are and take it to the lord. I found this so eye opening. But no matter what you go thru God is always there for you & listining to you, how he answers your pleas & prayers in his time is because only he knows what he has in store for you !!
    I would recomend this book to anyone who is asking this question & to people who have lost their faith, It really is an awesome book !!!

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  • Posted January 25, 2010

    Where is God?

    How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
    How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and every day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
    Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
    my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
    Psalm 13:1-4 (NIV

    Where is God? is Dr. John Townsend's attempt to answer the age-old question of how we look to God during our personal trials and pitfalls. Dr. Townsend relies on personal experience, years of Christian counseling, and scriptural reference to guide the reader through. While I understand his approach, I really think that this book misses the mark.

    The Introduction started off strong and reeled me in quickly. Unfortunately, it set a high standard that the rest of the book was unable to meet. The first 9 chapters were based more on his personal and professional stories than on scriptural references and solid Biblical instruction. It is not until chapter 10 that Dr. Townsend really dug in and delivered his intended message.

    It is a well thought out concept and the Introduction and last few chapters show the author's ability to convey the message, but the rest of the book really disappointed me.

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  • Posted January 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Where is God?

    "Where is God?" is the cry of people in tough times throughout the ages, and is very relevant today as over two hundred thousand people have died and over three million people are seriously hurt and homeless after the recent earthquakes in Haiti. All over the world people are asking the question, "Where is God?" in this situation.

    The writer takes us on a tour in God's word, as each of us face serious critical circumstances at some point in our lives. Dr. Townsend shows us that God never forsakes us, but He is always with us in the trials and tribulations of life. He shows how God cries with us, feels our pain and frustration as we desperately seek a solution to our own circumstances.

    Dr. John Townsend is a biblical psychologist, which means that he starts with the resources from the Bible and he also uses other secular theories to show that the Bible is where we need to look for the answers. He has a deep passion for God and a deep compassion for God's people. He has helped thousands of people with his clear understanding of human relationships and through his writing which people can easily relate to. Dr. Townsend does not minimize the pain and frustration of our circumstances. He recognizes them as real to each one of us, but then he gives us hope by giving alternative ways to look at our personal situations.

    I found this book to be a beautiful confirmation of my own beliefs and my faith in God. I know that God will always walk with me through difficult times, and I am never alone. So the answer to the question "Where is God?" He is right here, and He has been here ... all along.

    I am a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program at http://brb.thomasnelson.com/

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    Where Is God?

    If we are honest with ourselves we have all asked the question "Where is God?" We may have faced the loss of a loved one, losing a job, or disappointment in how life in general has turned out. It's at those moments that we ask "Where is God? Has he forgotten about me?" Even Christ when suffering and dying on the cross called out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)

    I was interested in reading Where is God? Finding His Presence, Purpose, and Power in Difficult Times from a professional standpoint. I am not necessary going through a difficult time right now but thought the insights and truths expressed in the book would be helpful to know for myself and in order to express them to others. I was surprised at how relevant the insights and truths were for just everyday living.

    Dr. Townsend addresses a lot about the attributes of God and what He desires for and from His children. Dr. Townsend does not spend much (if any) time talking about hypotheticals, positive thinking exercises or false hope but he gives your spiritual and psychological facts and truths about dealing with hard situation, how to survive them and how to go on with life. He also uses real life examples from his life and the lives of close friends to show how God does work in hard times.

    The narrative is broken down into three main sections:

    * Why does a loving God allow us to experience difficulties?
    * How is God active int he middle of our hard times?
    * How can I find God?

    Dr. Townsend does not downplay hard times, suffering, or doubts but addresses them realistically and with grace and empathy. But he also does not fill you with false hope - he does not make any promises that your suffering will end or that there will be a happy ending. Where is God? is a great read for everybody. I believe it will help you deepen your understanding of who God is and how to relate to others who are going through a difficult time and how to cope with your own situation.



    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com &lt;http://BookSneeze.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 &lt;http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html&gt; : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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