“Where was God when ____? How could God allow ____? Why?”
These are the questions that flood our hearts and minds when the unimaginable happens. When things go horribly wrong and the world seems to be unraveling, how do you believe in God’s goodness? How do you cling to hope?
Chad Veach directs readers away from clichéd Sunday school answers that fail to offer real comfort or provide faith-building insights. Instead, he draws from God’s promises in the Bible and from the story of his own daughter’s diagnosis of a devastating and debilitating disease to reveal simple, purposeful steps for dealing with pain. Resting in God’s love, remembering his past faithfulness, and realizing the distinction between having faith and clinging to hope are just some of these steps.
Veach reminds us that because we know who God is, we know there is hope.
Veach reminds us that because we know who God is, we know there is hope.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.69(d)|
About the Author
Chad Veach is the pastor of Zoe Church in Los Angeles, California. Chad and his wife, Julia, have two beautiful children, Georgia Estelle and Winston Charles.
Read an Excerpt
Finding Faith in the God Who Brings Purpose to Your Pain
By Chad Veach
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Chad Charles Veach
All rights reserved.
Have you ever read a quote or story that at one time had very little relevance to you, but then suddenly clicked in another moment? You might've shouted an automatic "Amen!" during a church service or double tapped an Instagram photo without truly feeling anything inside, but for some reason — in this moment — the words move you in ways they didn't the first time. I'm always fascinated by how words seem to shift and change in their meaning depending on what point in your life you read them.
The word lissencephaly, for instance, once had zero meaning for me. It just sounded like random letters doctors used to describe a disease I'd never have to worry about. Today, however, I hear that word, and my mind fills with a very specific image of my daughter and our struggle.
The words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3–5 have had a similar shifting effect for me.
At one time, they were words I "Amen" ed from my seat when a pastor got fired up from the pulpit about facing storms in our lives. Paul wrote powerfully about living through difficult situations and finding the purpose behind our pain. And though these words are beautiful and true, I always had a hard time fully grasping them.
In those verses, Paul says:
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person like God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort — we get a full measure of that, too. (THE MESSAGE)
When I heard, read, and studied these words previously, I had experienced the "good times" but never endured the "plenty of hard times" that Paul describes. That was until the dreams and visions I had for my family were dashed.
It's gonna be a boy. I can't wait to find out about my boy! We're gonna play ball together. We're gonna do life together.
These thoughts ran through my head as we drove to our ultrasound. Julia and I were both so confident that a baby boy was inside her tummy. In our minds, we were simply driving to the hospital to get confirmation and go home. We had stayed up late, talking about this boy of ours and planning our future adventures with him.
We saw ourselves at sporting events in high school. We imagined roughhousing with him. In our minds, he was tall, strapping, and the oldest sibling, looking out for the others.
I remember Julia asking me questions such as, "Okay, if it's a boy, what do you think he'll be like?" I would follow this with an hour- long speech, detailing accounts of his life. I could picture it down to the minute. "So I pick him up from school, and he looks over at me like, 'What's up, Dad?' And then we go shoot hoops in the driveway."
"All right, and if it's a girl?" Julia would ask after I finished my monologue.
Nothing. Silence. My mind went blank. "It's not a girl," I'd answer.
"It's a girl!" said the ultrasound technician, and Julia and I froze.
"Do you want to check that again maybe?" I asked.
The technician stared at me. I'm not sure if she'd ever heard that come out of a father's mouth before. She looked at me like I was a terrible human being. She was probably right.
"Uh, no. It's a girl," she finally replied matter-of-factly.
Needless to say, we were both shocked by the news. Looking back at the whole scenario now, I see our reaction was a little silly. I mean, it's as if we didn't realize there was a 50 percent chance or something.
As the idea sank in more and more in the weeks following, our imaginations ran wild with our girl's life, just as they had with the life of our future son.
Who will this little lady be? we wondered.
The news of your first kid is followed by giant hopes and dreams. Julia and I soon found ourselves awake at night imagining this little girl.
First we'd picture taking her for walks in the park. Then we'd imagine her cuddling with us on the couch. Soon we could see ourselves giving in when she begged us to watch a Disney musical for the eightieth time and dealing with her attitude in middle school. Next we envisioned ourselves embarrassing her on her first day of high school and freaking out about the thought of her getting a driver's license. This was followed by the anticipation of college graduation and visions of walking her down the aisle. Then she's a pro volleyball player! She's winning a gold medal! She's solving world hunger!
When it's your first, it's easy to get carried away.
Any parent could tell you that with a new life comes a whole lot of expectation. And when it came to our daughter, my wife and I were no different.
Yes, we joked about making sure our daughter became a college athlete or had her mother's beauty and her father's legs. (Yes, I have some very nice legs, okay? Don't worry about it.) We laughed and dreamed up some crazy plans for Georgia, but we also had serious hopes for her life.
I remember my dad telling me about when my mom was pregnant with me, and how they, too, experienced this first-time-parent dreaming. He told me how he prayed over my mom's belly. Full of nerves about what was to come and how he was going to raise me, he prayed for God's help. He also prayed that God's will — his plan, his purpose, and his destiny — would be done in my life.
It was even before Julia and I got pregnant that my dad told me about these prayers. "Chad, I have watched everything I've prayed come to pass in your life," he said. "I asked God to do these amazing things for you, and he's done them all."
Like father, like son. Inspired by this story and wanting to follow in the old man's footsteps, I decided that I, too, would pray over my daughter before she ever arrived.
"God, give her a global grace."
For some reason, this was the prayer that always came out as I laid hands on Julia's stomach. I would imagine my daughter's life on this massive scale.
"Let her be used for your glory around the world." The world. Millions of people. Influence. These were the prayers I felt I was supposed to pray over our girl.
I asked this every night with my hands on Julia's belly, not quite sure why I prayed that prayer but believing that something about our girl would have an impact around the world.
And I kept praying.
I thought that maybe when Georgia was a young adult or even later in her life this prayer I had for her would become a reality. Perhaps she'd travel and do ministry like good ol' Dad. Maybe she'd become famous for acting or inventing and have an amazing platform. I pictured her doing TED talks at the age of twenty-eight or signing the cover of her life-changing book around the world. I had a feeling Georgia was going to affect people and make them think — make them think about God, even.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed she would be doing this, impacting the world, by four months old.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed the reason.
Let me tell you about another dreamer found in the Bible named Joseph. At seventeen years old, Jo could dream. He wasn't one of those young people who failed to set goals or make five-year plans. In his mind, his future was much more than living off of his parents and working two shifts a week at the local coffee stand.
Jo saw himself thriving. God gave him dreams and visions of his future self, ruling over his brothers and entire family. When he went to bed at night, he saw images of power and authority and, controversially, his brothers bowing down before him. Genesis 37 describes how Joseph decided to tell his brothers about these little visions. I wasn't there, but I can imagine it was probably an awkward conversation.
"Yeah, so you guys are all going to bow to me one day! Pretty sick, huh?" There's really no hope that a statement like that will go over well. And in Genesis 37:5 it says, "When he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more."
But all this hatred didn't stop Jo from dreaming, and despite how well his last dream play-by-play went with his siblings, he had another dream and decided to share it yet again. And yet again, it involved them bowing and him ruling.
His brothers might not have liked it, but God was the one giving these visions to Jo. Like the "she will have a global grace" cry I felt so strongly about Georgia, Joseph knew he would one day have incredible influence.
How he would attain that influence and the journey he would travel to get there, however, he most likely did not expect. If anyone can relate to the struggle that comes with this life, it's him. After being sold into slavery by his brothers who hated him, then being thrown into jail for doing absolutely nothing wrong, Joseph's dreams were dashed again and again. And oh, can I relate.
"She Will Never"
My mom was the first one to say something. Though we also may have noticed how something was not quite right, my wife and I immediately took the defensive. After all, this was our daughter — the only kid we'd ever had. Not even Momma was going to mess with that. Yes, we noticed Georgia wasn't the best at grasping tightly onto our fingers. We also knew she had always been an easy baby. She wouldn't cry when she woke up; she wouldn't cry when she was hungry. She rarely ever cried, in fact. We thought we were lucky and blessed with a very sweet, calm kid.
But another month went by, and we could no longer deny that something was a little off. Georgia's eyes didn't seem to focus on us when we talked to her, and they sometimes went crossed. The twitch in her eye concerned us more than her not crying. Maybe because it didn't look like something we could write off as part of her personality.
Something was wrong.
We updated our church and our close friends and family to let them know we were going for a checkup to see if everything was all right. "There might be something wrong with Georgia's eyesight. If you could pray with us, that'd be amazing!"
When it was time to go to the doctor's appointment for that first exam, we had already sent out many positive mass texts and had a ton of people standing by, praying for a good report. Our church and friends were full of faith, and we were getting constant texts from them:
"Believing that her vision will be perfect!"
"God is able! Praying for Georgia today and for a good report!"
There was a positive anthem beating inside us from all the support. So as we walked through the doors of the clinic, we didn't even consider hearing anything negative, in much the same way that Joseph didn't consider doing anything but declaring his amazing dreams to his brothers.
But that first checkup led to another checkup, which led to another, and another, until ...
April 10, 2012, the day I realized exactly what Paul meant by "plenty of hard times."
We sat down to get the diagnosis from the doctor and could feel "it" instantly. If you've ever experienced a traumatic event or heard bad news, you know which "it" I'm talking about. The tone in the doctor's voice, the pace with which he spoke, and his body language all hinted that Julia and I needed to brace ourselves.
Cancer? A rare blood disease? What was our baby girl going to face? Whatever it was, God would be there with us through it all. Julia and I could deal with this. We could fight whatever sickness the enemy had planned. Our friends were standing by, waiting for a text message, and we were ready to respond with good Christian faith and texts that read:
"God is good. We're going to fight this!"
"By his stripes we are healed!"
"God came that we might enjoy life and life more abundantly!"
And then the doctor started talking, and all the noise was sucked out of the room. The world seemed to stop.
"Your daughter has lissencephaly."
As I mentioned, this word was gibberish to me and to Julia. For all we knew, it could have meant anything from a rare form of cancer to a mild sore throat. But nothing could have prepared me for what he said next.
"Lissencephaly is often referred to as 'smooth brain.'"
Smooth brain. This does not sound good, I thought. And I was right.
"She will never develop past three months. She will never walk. She will never talk. She will never roll over. She will never crawl ..."
A few more nevers in, and everything started moving very slowly. Suddenly, those scriptures weren't popping up in my mind. I wasn't able to smile my typical grin of faith. My heart dropped to my socks as my wife started weeping beside me. I was shocked.
We buckled Georgia into her car seat and didn't talk the whole way home. Our phones were blowing up with questions. "What did the doctor say?" and "How'd it go?" But we couldn't text back. We faced forward and drove, trying to process the doctor's words.
It was worse than we had anticipated. Our daughter didn't need glasses because of her eyes. She didn't need medicine to help her cry more or squeeze our fingers more tightly.
Our daughter's brain didn't work.
The hopes and plans we had made for her future suddenly left an ache in our hearts. We felt like Joseph, imagining a bright future but facing the reality of slavery. Looking back at that moment, one scripture ultimately stands out above the others.
Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick."
It's a perfect way to describe that ride home and the feeling in my gut.
I felt sick.
There I was, someone who had preached God's goodness from the platform, someone who knew all the verses and all the right things to say, suddenly facing the stark reality of Paul's words in 2 Corinthians. I was, for the first time, truly realizing that my life wasn't free of harm. Just as so many of the heroes I had read about in the Bible had gone through trials and storms and "hard times," I, too, had to face them. Not just Joseph, but Jacob, Moses, Job, Daniel, Rahab, Jonah — the list of people in the Bible who encountered terrible trials goes on.
Why have I always failed to realize what was actually happening to these people in these stories? I wondered. It seemed I had thought life would be all butterflies and daisies. But when "smooth brain" entered my life, I realized that pain was real and actually a part of life.
Posting #thestruggleisreal may be a silly joke we use when the line at Starbucks is too long or we can't seem to find the perfect new outfit for our next big event. We use it when laughing at life's first-world problems or things that make us upset even though they're petty. But struggle really is a part of this life. Little, insignificant things bring us down every day for no reason, but most of us will also experience the huge, very significant pain that comes with simply living on this earth. April 10, 2012, was the first time I experienced that level of pain.
"So That We Can Be There"
During the aftermath of Diagnosis Day, I was still a pastor. People still expected me to have answers. And with Georgia's disorder came a multitude of questions. People were ready for the life lesson in this terrible circumstance.
"What's God's purpose in all of this?"
"Do you believe Georgia will be healed?"
"Why do you think this happened to you?"
These are only a few of the many questions that have come my way since Diagnosis Day.
This book is my best attempt at an answer. My goal is not to provide the perfect recipe for grief, the formula for getting the healing you've been waiting for, or the answer to the philosophical questions regarding why God lets us suffer. Rather, it's to offer hope, however unreasonable it may seem, and to point you to the one who comforts.
I have experienced the God who truly surrounds me and is near me as I face life's most difficult circumstances. I hope, through my story, you will see the countless ways he's come through for my family. And why? Why has he come through for us over and over again? I believe he's done all this for Julia and me, so we can be there for that person who is hurting — be there the way God was there for us. Throughout this life, I've been surrounded by countless people who need this very thing; however, I'm embarrassed to admit my response has not always been the best.
As I've mentioned, before my dreams for Georgia and my family were ripped from me, my reality was pretty much free from pain. I remember seeing others experiencing terrible sickness or circumstances and having a hard time relating to them and coming alongside them with true sorrow for their situation. One instance in particular sticks out in my mind. It's difficult to mention without feeling a wave of regret, but here goes ...
I've known my sister Bethany's husband, Marc, since he was twenty-one, vibrant and full of life. Over a period of time, I watched Marc's lifestyle be turned completely upside down. His body began to deteriorate because he suffered from diabetes.
Pneumonia for three months here.
Kidney transplant there.
I was on the sidelines as he went to the hospital again and again. This seemed to be a day in the life for Marc.
"Oh, Marc, can't go play golf? Man, that sucks."
I'm embarrassed to say that this was about the extent of my response to my brother's suffering. I wasn't aching inside. I felt very removed from his pain just as I had felt removed from Paul's words to the Corinthians. Yeah, bad things happen. I get it.
Excerpted from Unreasonable Hope by Chad Veach. Copyright © 2016 Chad Charles Veach. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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.
Table of Contents
Foreword Judah Smith xiii
Part 1 The Struggle
It Happened One Night 3
Chapter 1 Comes Alongside 15
Chapter 2 Forgetful Jones 29
Chapter 3 Daughter Named Ruth 41
In Conclusion 55
Part 2 The Remedy
Somebody Feed Georgia 63
Chapter 4 Ever-Present Help 77
Chapter 5 There's Always More with God 89
Chapter 6 Why Not Us? 101
In Conclusion 113
Part 3 The Rest
It Started with a G 121
Chapter 7 The Language of Love 133
Chapter 8 Where Do I Go? 143
In Conclusion 155
Part 4 The Better
"Let Me Tell You a Story…" 163
Chapter 9 Who Moved My Hope? 175
Chapter 10 It just Gets Better and Better 187
In Conclusion 199
About the Author 209
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Unreasonable Hope by Chad Veach That couldn’t happen to me if often our response to the unimaginable that others are experiencing in this world. Yet, often the fright of a long and painful road is just the path we are on, despite our desire to run away. In his new book, Unreasonable Hope by pastor Chad Veach, he tells the story of his family, specifically his long journey with his daughter Georgia’s disease, lissencephaly. This disease is a rare brain disorder that causes her to have many seizures and setbacks. Fighting feeding tubes and hoping upon hope that things would become normal as other children experience, Chad and his wife knew that they were in for a difficult life, they just didn’t realize the immense struggle. This book is Chad’s grasping at how to love and serve God even in the midst of a terribly rocky road with a child who suffers so much at the hand of this disease. The honesty with which Chad shares his life is to be commended, even when he feels a deep sense of helplessness. He writes, “After a few moments, she snapped out of it and the tremors began. She shook in the aftermath of the seizure. The whole thing looked so traumatic and painful and, worst of all, there was nothing I could do (35).” The gut wrenching feeling of wanting to help, to soothe your daughter’s pain is a natural tug at the heart of every dad, so when you can’t do anything, you feel bad. But as Chad indicates, this is sometimes a place where we pull back from God, but God calls us to lay bare our lives, for he knows and has provided for in us in every way. Many decry the absence of God in the midst of terrible and horrendous situations because they can’t see a perception of how God should act in their minds. Chad reminds his readers that, “Whether through people, miracles, or medicine, God wants to help – even loves to help – in the day of trouble. As he proves throughout the Bible, this is where he thrives (86).” Chad reminds us that when we look for God, we’ll find him all around. In failure we find God because we remember or recall the ways God has provided for our needs, our spouse’s needs, even our children. The beauty of the way Chad expresses God’s presence is that he isn’t calling his readers to look for the miraculous in every situation, but in many ways the mundane ways God has already been present. I think you will be encourage as you read this book, as someone who has seen stretches of painful events, Chad will bless you with his words. Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the book and Thomas Nelson Publishers.
The best way to describe this book is with one word, WOW! Chad Veach uses his family's struggles as well as biblical stories to help you have a more positive perspective of the struggles you are facing. He helps you to find purpose in the pain of the struggle through Christ. And of course I don't think it would be a Chad Veach book without a little humor thrown in. This is a MUST READ, you will not be able to put it down! You can't help but walk away from reading this with a new hope and faith in what God can and will do in your life. Thank you for such an amazing read Chad Veach.
WOW!!!! I was able to finish this book in just ONE day, but I couldn't do it without crying and having faith that God can and WILL give me the hope I need to get through life. I've met Pastor Chad before and he is such a breathe of life. Everything about him just screams AWESOME, but you would have never known what he was dealing with.....until now. Although I've never met Georgia, I feel just a little bit closer to the Veaches because of this book. My kids and I got temporary G tats and we wear them in honor of Georgia. My son said he's going to tell his friends who ask about the G tat that Georgia is HIS friend. I highly suggest this book to pretty much about anyone whether they are a Christian or not. We all have "stuff" we go through in which we look for that glimmer of hope, but Pastor Chad reminds us that pain is real, but so is God.