Why? Trusting God When You Don't Understandby Anne Graham Lotz
It's not so much a question as it is a heart cry -- a cry of hurt, bewilderment, anger, anguish. We all have those "why" moments -- or weeks, or months -- when we encounter one of those painful mysteries that is too much for us to handle. When the innocent suffer, when bad things happen to good people, when wars break out, and terrorists strike and sickness sets in and death appears at our doorstep, that's when we find ourselves asking: Why did this have to happen? Why didn't God intervene? Why is God silent? Why hasn't God met my needs? Why doesn't God perform a miracle? Why me? Anne Graham Lotz knows what it's like to wrestle with these kinds of questions in the midst of pain and confusion. In a period of eighteen months, a hurricane leveled part of her property, a fire destroyed her husband's dental office, her parents were hospitalized repeatedly, and her son was diagnosed with cancer. That whirlwind of crisis left Anne gasping for breath, and the question of "why" loomed large. But her faith held, and the wisdom she had found in Scripture proved strong enough to carry her through. In this heartfelt book, dedicated to those, like herself, who have unanswered prayers, Anne shares that wisdom, which draws on one of the most vivid "why" stories in the New Testament -- the death of Lazarus. This is not a book of pat or superficial answers. In fact, it's not really a book of answers at all. It's a book about the Answer. Anne Graham Lotz understands that our whys are usually whimpers of pain -- we've come to doubt whether God can help us or even wants to. Speaking directly to that doubt, Anne guides us through our questions to the One whose eternal answer is not "Because," but "I Am" ... I am with you. I know what I'm doing. I love you with an everlasting love. Trust Me!
- W Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.52(w) x 7.06(h) x 0.76(d)
Read an Excerpt
Why?Trusting God When You Don't Understand
By ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ
W Publishing GroupCopyright © 2007 Anne Graham Lotz
All right reserved.
Trusting God When I Don't Understand
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -PROVERBS 3:5
Why? why does God let bad things happen to good people? to innocent people? to helpless people? to defenseless people? to children? to me?
Sometimes His ways seem so hard to understand!
What I have to share in this small volume comes from what I have learned through experience as each lesson was hammered out on the anvil of God's Word. While I have not known suffering to the extent others have endured-I have not suffered the death of a child, the betrayal or abandonment of a spouse, or an illness that threatened my own life-my own problems, added to my interactions with hurting people around the globe and my intense study to understand how God works and what He has to say about suffering, give me courage to speak to those hurting ones who struggle to understand why.
Through all these avenues, realizing there are no pat answers to the age-old question of suffering, and no "new truth," I cling to the spiritual principle operating in the life of a child of God that ... gives meaning to our meaninglessness and hope to our hopelessness and reason to our senselessness and purpose to our aimlessness and strength to our weakness and courage to our faintheartedness and blessed deliverance from our bitterness. It's a principle ... that helps balance the pain, that can remove the sting from our suffering, that can prevent us from wasting our sorrows, that is worth our focused attention. This spiritual principle is seen when a single grain of wheat is crushed, buried, and, in a sense, dies-only to rise again into new life as the stalk of wheat grows from it, producing hundreds more grains. This principle emerged into sharp visibility when Jesus gave His life on the Cross, was buried, and on the third day arose from the dead to give eternal life to any and all who would place their faith in Him.
On a day still to come, this same principle will be thrillingly displayed when the intense suffering that characterizes the final generation in human history gives "birth" to the glorious return to earth of God's Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul somewhat understated this principle in Romans 8:28, a passage he wrote to reassure believers who lived in a city dominated by Nero, a madman with absolute power. Paul wrote encouragingly, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Phrased another way, Paul was reminding the children of God they can be confident that ... all things work together for good, brokenness leads to blessing, death leads to life, and suffering leads to glory!
In our world today, God's children need that same reminder to trust Him when we don't understand and nothing seems to make sense.
Nowhere is this principle taught more poignantly or powerfully than in the passage of Scripture on which this book is based, the Gospel of John, chapter 11. (Direct quotations from John 11 are inserted in the text; other Scripture references can be found in the Notes section.) In this passage, the apostle John gives his eyewitness account of the moving story of Lazarus, a beloved friend of Jesus who became seriously ill. It's also the story of Lazarus's two sisters, Mary and Martha, who struggled to understand why Jesus hadn't intervened and healed their brother. While both sisters sent word to Jesus, Mary's faith seemed to collapse when things got worse while Martha's small tendril of faith was developed until she saw the glory of God in her brother's life. Because I identify with Martha's struggle, I have chosen to focus primarily on her perspective in this book. Through the apostle John's eyes, as I see Martha's faith in God grow in the midst of her total helplessness until it becomes triumphant-even a model for my own-my desire is increased for that kind of faith.
Similarly, believers of every generation have triumphed over their suffering as they placed their faith in God, trusting Him even when they didn't understand why. And every generation has suffered to a greater or lesser degree.
My generation has not been exempt.
There has been unfathomable hopelessness and helplessness in the killing fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, in the massacres under the vicious anarchy of the Red Guard in China, in the senseless slaughter between tribes in Rwanda, in the torture chambers supervised by the Butcher of Baghdad, in the slave trade of the Sudan, in the systematic ethnic cleansing of Eastern Europe, and in countless acts of cruelty and sadism that never make it to the light of national or international attention. While writing this book, I have had in my heart and on my mind the millions of people today who are suffering personally in various ways and to varying degrees. Why? Sometimes it's just so hard to understand!
Yet God is bigger than our suffering. We can have hope as we place our trust in Him-in His faithfulness and in His ability to work out in our lives His purposes that will be for our ultimate good and His eternal glory.
Although Mary and Martha experienced suffering and prayers that were seemingly unanswered, in the end their faith was gloriously rewarded, teaching us just to trust Him when we don't understand.
The principle that suffering leads to glory is illustrated in Scripture by a vivid description of clay on the Potter's wheel-clay that was once cracked, shattered, and broken, clay that was totally useless and ugly. The Potter took the clay and broke it down even further, grinding it into dust then moistening it with water before He put it on His wheel and began to remake it into a vessel pleasing to Himself. The cracks and chips and broken pieces disappeared as the clay became soft and pliable to the Potter's touch. He firmly applied pressure on some areas, touched lightly on other areas, added more clay to a specific spot that needed filling, and removed clay that hindered the shape that would make it useful for His ultimate purpose. As He turned the wheel, His loving, gentle hands never left the clay as He molded and made it after His will.
Finally, the Potter finished remolding the clay and took it off the wheel. Under His skilled, gentle hands, the once-ugly clay had been transformed into a vessel that had shape and purpose. He added color, carefully painting on a unique design. But the clay was still soft and weak, the color dull and drab. So the Potter placed the vessel into the fiery kiln, carefully keeping His eye on it as He submitted it to the raging heat. At a time He alone determined was sufficient, the Potter withdrew the pot from the furnace. The blazing heat had radically transformed the clay into a vessel of strength and glorious, multicolored beauty. Then the Potter put it in His showcase so that others might see the revelation of His glory in the work of His hands.
Is the Potter molding-or remolding-you, using ... pressure or problems? stress or suffering? hurt or heartache? illness or injustice?
Has He now placed you in the fire so that circumstances are heating up with intensity in your life? Then would you just trust the Potter to know exactly what He is doing?
For the child of God, suffering is not wasted. It's not an end in itself. Scripture reminds us, "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.... For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."
The spiritual principle is that in some way God uses suffering to transform ordinary, dust-clay people into ... vessels that are strong in faith ... vessels that are fit for His use ... vessels that display His glory to the watching world. This is the principle so powerfully illustrated in the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in John 11. I also have seen this principle at work personally-in the lives of family members and friends. And I understand it to be true by my own experience.
When I don't understand why, I trust Him because ...
Excerpted from Why? by ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ Copyright © 2007 by Anne Graham Lotz. 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.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
This book touched me so much that I have given away about a dozen copies to people that I love. Many have responded that it has meant a lot to them and caused them to see their trials and hard times in a new light.
I found myself in a situation where i was asking 'Why?' on many different fronts. I came across this book on the Barnes and Noble site and picked it up. I've read it twice in a couple months the second time I read it through with highlighter in hand to really drive home certain points. Ms. Lotz does a wonderful job of envisioning the thought processes of Martha, as well as her growth in faith and trust. She also does a wonderful job of driving home the idea that God does not always act within our timeframes and by our standards, but always provides for our good and His glory. I found many points of wisdom that I am clinging to now, and will in the future. I can see myself reading this through many times in the future, and recommending it to anybody I feel needs it.
My search for a book that gave me hope and a better understanding of God's grace has finally been successful. I loved this book and have proposed it for a bible study group. My pastor has also received a copy from me. I hope he sees the value in providing this book to people he counsels. Buy this book and you will be rewarded.
THIS IS TRULY A GREAT BOOK AND I FEEL THAT I WAS VERY BLESSED BY IT. IAM VERY THANKFUL THAT I BOUGHT THIS LITTLE PUBLICATION. THE WRITER HAS USED ALOT OF BIBLE BASED EXAMPLES TO OFFER HOPE AND COMFORT. THIS IS A VERY INEXPENSIVE BOOK SO YOU MIGHT WANT TO GIVE IT AS A GIFT FOR A FAMILY MEMBER AND YOUR FRIEND AND IT MIGHT BE GOOD FOR A BIBLE STUDY OR YOUR OWN QUIET TIME. ITS A VERY PEACEFUL BOOK. HELP YOU THROUGH SOME HARD TIMES. THIS WILL HELP YOU AWNSER SOME HARD QUESTIANS . GREAT BOOK FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL.
What a great title for a book which seeks to answer the question we all ask! This book presents, in a user-friendly way, Bible theology on why bad things happen to good people. The author puts her heart and soul into this discussion, and, with John 11 as the focus, never strays from what God would have us learn. While I enjoyed the format Lotz used for the work--and feel the principles addressed were theologically sound, to me the work was a bit limited. The same genre of discussion on understanding the mind of God--plus numerous other such topics (suffering, integrity, spirituality and gifts, etc.) are much more broadly discussed in earlier works such as 'Where is God When It Hurts', and particularly 'With Joseph in the University of Adversity' (my favorite--IF you can get your hands on it). All in all, Lotz is a warm and capable writer who knows her stuff. There is little to fault in this work, and perhaps I was looking for a bit more 'meat and potatoes', while I was served precisely what was advertised. RECOMMENDED.
very helpful answered many questions I had enjoy her writings
ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ HAS WRITTION A REAL A REAL WINNER HERE. THIS PAST WEEK I HAD 2 FRIENDS OF MINE WHO WERE GOING THROUGH SOME HARD TIMES AND I REALLY DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT WORDS TO SAYTO THEM BUT I REMEMBERED THAT I HAD READ ANNE GRAHAM LOTZS BOOK 'WHY' AND GOTTEN ALOT OUT OF IT MYSELF SO I GOT A COPY FOR BOTH OF MY FRIENDS CAUSE MRS LOTZ USES BIBLE VERSES,HER OWN TRUE LIFE EXPERENCES AS WELL AS THE TRUE LIFE EXPERENCES OF MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS NOT ONLY THAT SHE BRINGS YOU THE WORDS AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE GOSPEL OF JOHN SO YOU CAN FIND HOPE AND UNDERSTANDING IN YOUR OWN LIFE OR PERHAPS GIVE THIS WONDERFUL BOOK TO A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER WHO MIGHT NEED ALITTLE ENCOURAGMENT. ITS TRULY A WONDERFUL LITTLE INEXPENSIVE BOOK FOR A BIBLE STUDY THIS BOOK MIGHT GIVE SOME UNIVERSITY OR GRADUATION OR COLLEGE.
I was slightly disappointed by my book, because if a person just glances at it online or in a book store, they would be left believing that God truly doesn't care. But, a closer look would help any reader see that God makes everything happen for a reason. I have recently read another book that tackled the topic of forgiveness that gave me a broader outlook on how God works. I can only recommend that you read both and you be the judge.