Where Is God When Bad Things Happen?: Finding Solace in Times of Trouble

Where Is God When Bad Things Happen?: Finding Solace in Times of Trouble

by Luis Palau
     
 

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Suffering. Its stubborn inevitability prompts our deepest doubts about life as well as a profound search for meaning. Why do we suffer? Why must we lose the ones we love? Why must each of us face sickness and death? If God exists, where is God when these things happen?

International evangelist Luis Palau has seen desperate suffering in the lives of millions of

Overview

Suffering. Its stubborn inevitability prompts our deepest doubts about life as well as a profound search for meaning. Why do we suffer? Why must we lose the ones we love? Why must each of us face sickness and death? If God exists, where is God when these things happen?

International evangelist Luis Palau has seen desperate suffering in the lives of millions of people all over the world and has experienced it in his own life. In Where Is God When Bad Things Happen?, Palau helps those in pain come to grips with the crushing adversities of life by directing them to the limitless resources found in God. Without sidestepping the most difficult questions or slipping into the pat answers of a merely intellectual faith, Palau provides encouragement and hope to those who sorely need both.

Although helpful to readers already committed in their faith, this book is especially intended for those who are still searching and who wonder where God could be in times of trouble. Instead of an academic treatise on "the problem of evil," Where Is God When Bad Things Happen? is an empathetic exploration of divine action in the midst of terrible pain.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Intensely compassionate and personal...highly recommended."
CBA Marketplace

"The strength of Palau's message...can be seen in the stadiums he fills."
Time

"My friend Luis Palau is one of the great evangelists of our age, with a gift for reaching people around the world."
— Charles Colson

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780718829964
Publisher:
Lutterworth Press, The
Publication date:
03/01/2002
Pages:
192

Read an Excerpt

Four Strikes Doesn't Mean You're Out

When tragedy shatters the comfortable rhythms of life, most of us--after we lift our bleeding bodies from the floor--ask just one question: Why? Why did this happen? Why did this happen to me? If there really is a God, and if He is a God of love as most people of faith claim, then how could He have allowed such an awful tragedy into my life? What kind of a God could sit back and do nothing?

"Just where was God when this incident demolished my world?" we demand. This isn't merely an intellectual question for me.

First, I deal with individuals every day whose lives have been torn apart by tragedy. They don't want "academic" answers to their pain; they frantically search for any shred of real hope on which they might steady their trembling hands. They need to see a future hidden somewhere beneath the rubble of their lives.

Second, I know something about tragedy firsthand. At least four times in my life, family catastrophes seemed to fall like meteors out of the sky, obliterating my view of the future and nearly burying me alive beneath their fearsome weight. Each time my knees buckled and I was tempted to ask God, "Where were You when this happened?"

And so I write this book not from some insulated, theoretical viewpoint, but from an intensely personal perspective.

Good-bye, Dad

The first "meteor" slammed into my life when I was ten years old, away at a British boarding school located north of Buenos Aires, Argentina. There I received a telephone call from my grandmother--a call that would change my life.

"Luis," she said nervously, "your father is very sick. You need to come home rightaway."

I loved my dad. He was a successful businessman who emigrated to Argentina from Spain when he was a boy, along with his parents and brothers and sisters. His father died a few years later, when my dad was about sixteen. He had to go to work very early in life. He bought a pickup truck and began to haul construction materials for builders--bricks, cement, sand, whatever they needed.

As his business grew, he began thinking, I can build houses as well as these fellows. Why should I just haul their stuff? Soon he bought some land and began a housing development. He didn't force his buyers to sign contracts; he counted on their goodwill to pay him. His business boomed, and he began to make good money. He brought his brothers into the business and began hiring other employees.

Dad bought a small farm and hired maids and nannies and drivers to make it work. Townspeople respected him, and I remember thinking, My dad's big stuff. He promised that when I turned sixteen he would buy me a pickup--a big deal in our little village. He also gave me a piece of land and helped me plant corn and tomatoes there. He said it was my piece of property.

My dad's soul prospered along with his business. He became a Christian at age twenty-six, shortly after my mom made her own commitment to Jesus Christ. In the middle of a Sunday service held at a tiny chapel, he stood up, interrupted the preacher, and announced his decision to follow Jesus. He showed his commitment by remodeling the church, constructing other church buildings in the region, giving away modest new homes to several poorer families, and proclaiming Christ's Good News to hundreds.

And then one day my dad got sick. He was helping some of his employees to unload a shipment of sand, sweating like mad. He caught a chill and soon contracted bronchial pneumonia. It was the end of World War II, and no penicillin was available. Doctors had no other way to treat the infection. Within nine days he grew quite weak.

That's when I got the call. I knew he must be very sick; my grandmother would speak with such urgency for no other reason.

Immediately I took the train to a little town outside Buenos Aires, then walked home under a blistering summer sun. I doubt I walked more than a few blocks, but when you're ten and your dad is passing away, a few blocks seem like miles. By midafternoon I arrived home to turmoil. Various relatives were wailing and crying out, "Why did God allow this man to die? What about the orphans?" Even our dog was howling. My dad had slipped into eternity a few hours earlier--at only thirty-four years of age.

We buried my father the day after he died. Embalming was not widely practiced at that time, and Argentina's hot summer demanded a quick burial. Family members tried to keep my sisters and me away from the cemetery, but I escaped through a window and ran up to one of my dad's young employees. "Let me go, too," I said, and jumped into the back of his truck, covering myself with a tarp.

I had vowed to throw the first clump of dirt on our dad's casket; as the oldest child, I felt I had the right. When we got to the cemetery, I jumped out of the truck and scooted between all the men standing by the graveside. Before any of them could stop me, I threw the first clod of earth on my dad's coffin.

Life changed drastically after that. It was now me, my three sisters, our mother, and a fourth sister born the following spring. Mom didn't know anything about running a business, and over the next few years the debts piled up. Many unscrupulous people cheated her, and we plummeted from wealth to utter poverty. I remember as a teenager wearing donated suits that were too long and overcoats massively out of proportion for my scrawny body. Eventually--mostly out of embarrassment--we moved to Cordoba, a few hundred miles north. We had been the wealthiest family in town, and now we were the poorest. In response to our most earnest prayers, God sometimes seemed silent.

Meet the Author

Luis Palau is an international evangelist who has spoken to hundreds of millions of people through radio and television broadcasts in ninety-five countries, and face-to-face to eleven million more people in sixty-three nations. He is the author of several books on spirituality and the Christian life, including God Is Relevant. Luis and his wife, Patricia, have four grown sons and live in Portland, Oregon.

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