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Where is God When It Hurts?

Philip Yancey
Where is God When It Hurts?
sneak Peek

Where is God When It Hurts?

Philip Yancey

$17.99

Paperback
If there is a loving God, then why is it that. . .? You've heard that question, perhaps asked it yourself. No matter how you complete it, at its root lies the issue of pain.

Does God order our suffering? Does he decree an abusive childhood, orchestrate a jet crash, steer a tornado through a community? Or did he simply wind up the world's mainspring and now watches from a distance?

In this Gold Medallion Award-winning book, Philip Yancey reveals a God who is neither capricious nor unconcerned. Using examples from the Bible and from his own experiences, Yancey looks at pain - physical, emotional, and spiritual - and helps us understand why we suffer. WHERE IS GOD WHEN IT HURTS? Will speak to those for whom life sometimes just doesn't make sense. And it will help equip anyone who wants to reach out to someone in pain but just doesn't know what to say.


- Publisher This perennial best-seller about the question of suffering is now available in a special anniversary edition"If there is a loving God, then why . . . ?" No matter how the question is completed, at its root lies the issue of pain. Does God order suffering? Or did he simply wind up the world's mainspring and now is watching from a distance?In this Gold Medallion Award-winning book, Philip Yancey reveals a God who is neither capricious nor unconcerned. Using examples from the Bible and from his own experiences, Yancey looks at pain--physical, emotional, and spiritual--and helps us understand why we suffer.

- Publisher

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About "Where is God When It Hurts?"

If there is a loving God, then why is it that. . .? You've heard that question, perhaps asked it yourself. No matter how you complete it, at its root lies the issue of pain.

Does God order our suffering? Does he decree an abusive childhood, orchestrate a jet crash, steer a tornado through a community? Or did he simply wind up the world's mainspring and now watches from a distance?

In this Gold Medallion Award-winning book, Philip Yancey reveals a God who is neither capricious nor unconcerned. Using examples from the Bible and from his own experiences, Yancey looks at pain - physical, emotional, and spiritual - and helps us understand why we suffer. WHERE IS GOD WHEN IT HURTS? Will speak to those for whom life sometimes just doesn't make sense. And it will help equip anyone who wants to reach out to someone in pain but just doesn't know what to say.

- Publisher

This perennial best-seller about the question of suffering is now available in a special anniversary edition"If there is a loving God, then why . . . ?" No matter how the question is completed, at its root lies the issue of pain. Does God order suffering? Or did he simply wind up the world's mainspring and now is watching from a distance?In this Gold Medallion Award-winning book, Philip Yancey reveals a God who is neither capricious nor unconcerned. Using examples from the Bible and from his own experiences, Yancey looks at pain--physical, emotional, and spiritual--and helps us understand why we suffer.
- Publisher

Meet the Author

Philip Yancey

Growing up in a strict, fundamentalist church in the southern USA, a young Philip Yancey tended to view God as 'a scowling Supercop, searching for anyone who might be having a good time in order to squash them.' Yancey jokes today about being 'in recovery' from a toxic church. 'Of course, there were good qualities too. If a neighbour's house burned down, the congregation would rally around and show charity if, that is, the house belonged to a white person. I grew up confused by the contradictions. We heard about love and grace, but I didn't experience much. And we were taught that God answers prayers, miraculously, but my father died of polio just after my first birthday, despite many prayers for his healing.'

For Yancey, reading offered a window to a different world. So, he devoured books that opened his mind, challenged his upbringing, and went against what he had been taught. A sense of betrayal engulfed him. 'I felt I had been lied to. For instance, what I learned from a book like To Kill a Mockingbird or Black Like Me contradicted the racism I encountered in church. I went through a period of reacting against everything I was taught and even discarding my faith. I began my journey back mainly by encountering a world very different than I had been taught, an expansive world of beauty and goodness. Along the way I realized that God had been misrepresented to me. Cautiously, warily, I returned, circling around the faith to see if it might be true.'

Ever since Yancey has explored the most basic questions and deepest mysteries of the Christian faith, taking millions of readers with him. Early on he crafted best-selling books such as Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts? while also editing The Student Bible. He co-authored three books with the renowned surgeon Dr. Paul Brand. 'No one has influenced me more' he says. 'We had quite a trade: I gave words to his faith, and in the process he gave faith to my words.' More recently, he has felt the freedom to explore central issues of the Christian faith, penning award-winning titles such as The Jesus I Never Knew, What's So Amazing About Grace? and Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? His books have garnered 13 Gold Medallion Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers. He currently has more than 15 million books in print, published in 35 languages worldwide.

Yancey worked as a journalist in Chicago for some twenty years, editing the youth magazine Campus Life while also writing for a wide variety of magazines including Reader's Digest, Saturday Evening Post, National Wildlife, and Christianity Today. In the process he interviewed diverse people enriched by their personal faith, such as President Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, and Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. In 1992 he and his wife Janet, a social worker and hospice chaplain, moved to the foothills of Colorado. His writing took a more personal, introspective turn even as his activities turned outward. 'Writing is such an introspective act that I found myself looking for ways to connect with the planet bodily. My interests include skiing, climbing mountains, mountain-biking, golf, international travel, jogging, nature, theology (in small doses), politics, literature, and classical music.'

'I write books for myself,' he says. 'I'm a pilgrim, recovering from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that most interest me. My books are a process of exploration and investigation of things I wonder about and worry about.' Yancey writes with an eye for detail, irony, and honest skepticism.

So, just how does a man who's been through all Yancey has, draw close to the God he once feared? He spends about an hour each morning reading spiritually nourishing books, meditating, and praying. This morning time, he says, helps him 'align' himself with God for the day. 'I tend to go back to the Bible as a model, because I don't know a more honest book,' Yancey explains. 'I can't think of any argument against God that isn't already included in the Bible. To those who struggle with my books, I reply, 'Then maybe you shouldn't be reading them. Yet some people do need the kinds of books I write. They've been burned by the church or they're upset about certain aspects of Christianity. I understand that feeling of disappointment, even betrayal. I feel called to speak to those living in the borderlands of faith.' He lives with his wife in Colorado.

Table Of Contents

  • Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
  • 1. A Problem That Won't Go Away . . . . . . . . . 15
  • Part One
  • Why Is There Such A Thing As Pain?
  • 2. The Gift Nobody Wants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
  • 3. Painless Hell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
  • 4. Agony And Ecstasy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
  • Part Two
  • Is Pain A Message From God?
  • 5. The Groaning Planet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
  • 6. What Is God Trying To Tell Us? . . . . . . . . . . 75
  • 7. Why Are We Here? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
  • 8. Arms Too Short To Box With God . . . . . . . 103
  • Part Three
  • How People Respond To Suffering
  • 9. After The Fall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
  • 10. On My Feet Dancing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
  • 11. Other Witnesses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
  • 12. Extreme Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
  • How Can We Cope With Pain?
  • 13. Frontiers Of Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
  • 14. Fear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
  • 15. Helplessness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
  • 16. Meaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
  • 17. Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
  • Part Five
  • How Does Faith Help?
  • 18. Seeing For Himself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
  • 19. The Rest Of The Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
  • 20. A Whole New World Outside . . . . . . . . . . 249
  • Discussion Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263
  • Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281

Excerpt

Excerpt from: Where is God When It Hurts?

A Problem That Won't Go Away Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting sym-toms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, if you turn to Him then with praise, you will be welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. C. S. LEWIS A Grief Observed I FEEL HELPLESS AROUND people in great pain. Helpless, and also guilty. I stand beside them, watching facial features contort and listening to the sighs and moans, deeply aware of the huge gulf between us. I cannot penetrate their suffering, I can only watch. Whatever I attempt to say seems weak and stiff, as if I'd memorized the lines for a school play. One day I received a frantic plea for help from my close friends John and Claudia Claxton. Newlyweds in their early twenties, they were just beginning life together in the Midwest. I had watched in amazement as the experience of romantic love utterly transformed John Claxton. Two years of engagement to Claudia had melted his cynicism and softened his hard edges. He became an optimist, and now his letters to me were usually bubbly with enthusiasm about his young marriage. But one letter from John alarmed me as soon as I opened it. Errors and scratches marred his usually neat handwriting. He explained, 'Excuse my writing . . . I guess it shows how I'm fumbling for words. I don't know what to say.' The Claxtons' young marriage had run into a roadblock far bigger than both of them. Claudia had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, cancer of the lymph glands, and was given only a fifty percent chance to live. Within a week surgeons had cut her from armpit to belly, removing every visible trace of the disease. She was left stunned and weak, lying in a hospital bed. At the time, ironically, John was working as a chaplain's assistant in a local hospital. His compassion for other patients dipped dangerously. 'In some ways,' he told me, 'I could understand better what other patients were undergoing. But I didn't care any more. I only cared about Claudia. I wanted to yell at them, 'Stop that sniveling, you idiots! You think you've got problems---my wife may be dying right now!'' Though both John and Claudia were strong Christians, an unexpected anger against God surged up---anger against a beloved partner who had betrayed them. 'God, why us?' they cried. 'Have you teasingly doled out one happy year of marriage to set us up for this?' Cobalt treatments took their toll on Claudia's body. Beauty fled her almost overnight. She felt and looked weary, her skin darkened, her hair fell out. Her throat was raw, and she regurgitated nearly everything she ate. Doctors had to suspend treatment for a time when her swollen throat could no longer make swallowing motions. When the radiation treatments resumed, she was periodically laid out flat on a table, naked. She could do nothing but lie still and listen to the whir and click of the machinery as it bombarded her with invisible particles, each dose aging her body by months. As she lay in that chill steel room, Claudia would think about God and about her suffering. Claudia's Visitors Claudia had hoped that Christian visitors would comfort her by bringing some perspective on what she was going through. But their voices proved confusing, not consoling. A deacon from her church solemnly advised her to reflect on what God was trying to teach her. 'Surely something in your life must displease God,' he said. 'Somewhere, you must have stepped out of his will. These things don't just happen. God uses circumstances to warn us, and to punish us. What is he telling you?' A few days later Claudia was surprised to see a woman from church whom she barely knew. Evidently, this plump, scatterbrained widow had adopted the role of professional cheerleader to the sick. She brought flowers, sang hymns, and stayed long enough to read some happy psalms about brooks running and mountains clapping their hands. Whenever Claudia tried to talk about her illness or prognosis, the woman quickly changed the subject, trying to combat the suffering with cheer and goodwill. But she only visited once, and after a while the flowers faded, the hymns seemed dissonant, and Claudia was left to face a new day of pain. Another woman dropped by, a faithful follower of television faith healers. Exuding confidence, she assured Claudia that healing was her only escape. When Claudia told her about the deacon's advice, this woman nearly exploded. 'Sickness is never God's will!' she exclaimed. 'Haven't you read the Bible? The Devil stalks us like a roaring lion, but God will deliver you if you can muster up enough faith to believe you'll be healed. Remember, Claudia, faith can move mountains, and that includes Hodgkin's disease. Simply name your promise, in faith, and then claim the victory.' The next few mornings, as Claudia lay in the sterile cobalt treatment room, she tried to 'muster up' faith. She wondered if she even understood the procedure. She did not question God's supernatural power, but how to go about convincing God of her sincerity? Faith wasn't like a muscle that could be enlarged through rehabilitation exercises. It was slippery, intangible, impossible to grasp. The whole notion of mustering up faith seemed awfully exhausting, and she could never decide what it really meant.

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Product Details

Product Details
  • Catalogue Code 249988
  • Product Code 0310245729
  • EAN 9780310245728
  • UPC 025986245726
  • Pages 288
  • Department General Books
  • Category Christian Living
  • Sub-Category General
  • Publisher Zondervan
  • Publication Date Feb 2002
  • Sales Rank #7651
  • Dimensions 213 x 139 x 20 mm
  • Weight 0.267kg

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