Monday, October 20, 2008

When Answers Aren't Enough

Okay, I said I would write a review of this book. What I didn't expect was how much it touched me emotionally.

Much of that may be due to the fact that Matt Rogers takes us through his personal journey of trying to "experience God as good when life isn't." Because we explore the questions and issues we can't get our mind around as Rogers is, we feel more like we're taking a journey with a friend.

Matt Rogers was a pastor at his church at Virginia Tech during the shootings. Much of his questions started with that experience but branched out into the suffering none of us escape during this life. He admits that we can come up with answers from our theology, all going back to living in a fallen world and the freedom to choose evil. Yet he doesn't stop there. He goes where most of us have been. "When we can answer our own questions but our hearts still ache, then what?"

He makes two points that hit home with me. One is that we live in a world that is at the same time beautiful and awful. Part of the journey is discovering how to live "fully aware of the darkness yet not overcome by it."

Two, often we hold God to a promise He never made. We expect Him to give us a good, easy, pain-free, safe life. Yet He never promises that. A quick look at many biblical characters shows us how difficult following God can be. Jesus Himself said in this world we would have trouble. At the same time Rogers says, "We cannot experience as good any God who says okay to tragedy without a stabbing pain in his own heart. . . . We must define God carefully, allowing for a heavy dose of mystery, which is an inevitable and essential part of relating to the Infinite."

I love an author who embraces the mystery of God instead of trying to define Him precisely. Mostly, I love how he rejects the neatly tied up package. "But I know simple answers will not--cannot--get me there."

There are a lot more wonderful lines I underlined in this book. But this is a blog post, not a term paper and time and attention is limited. So I suggest (strongly) you go out and get yourself a copy.

When Answers Aren't Enough: Experiencing God as Good When Life Isn't. Matt Rogers, Zondervan.

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