Friday, January 8, 2010

Where Is God?

In his new book, Where Is God?,  Dr. John Townsend explores the landscape of human sufferings and what they mean in the lives of believers. Three principles set forth in this book are:

  1. God is for you
  2. Your experience matters:  "It is easy to think that we should put up a brave front and stay positive about all our struggles. But that is not the biblical model. David, the man after God's own heart, got right to it and spilled out his guts about his own experience--How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?"
  3. The Bible is our source for understanding God's ways in hard times: "We are designed for more than simply receiving power from God, a relationship in which He does superhero feats to help us. Ultimately, we long for His presence, a connection of closeness with God . . . He seeks us out. In fact, before we ever asked, "Where is God?" He first asked the same question of us. 'The Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you?' (Gen. 3:9, NKJV) He is the real seeker, not us."
I found Dr. Townsend's writings insightful and full of grace, as if a good friend sat down beside me in the midst of my troubles and listened with her heart to my litany of pain and loss. This book avoids trite answers and meaningless platitudes, leaning instead toward the hard but necessary facts that 1) sometimes God chooses to be with us in our sorrows, rather than deliver us out of them and 2) we won't always know this side of Heaven the reasons for our particular trials.

Just as it is refreshing in our time of need to have a loving someone to offer compassion, while allowing us to express our very human pain, so this book is a welcome relief from the tired theories circulating in the Christian community today, offering false promises of unremitting prosperity which are neither helpful nor biblical.

This book is sure to be a source of wisdom and encouragement for anyone desiring to know the true God of whom Jesus said, "If you've seen me you've seen the Father."

4 comments :

  1. It is often futile to ask "why?" when it comes to our suffering. As a Christian, I don't ask, "Why me?" I ask, "Why not me?" As a Christian, I believe that Christ's horrible suffering, humiliation, and agonizing death paid the penalty for my sins so that I may have eternal life. Suffering was not inappropriate in the role of Christ, and it's not inappropriate for any Christian. If the Son of God suffered, we can expect God's other children to experience suffering, too. We must remember that God knows what he’s doing and put our trust in him. You and I may not know the purposes God has in the things that happen to us. But we can choose to honor the Lord and live righteously. We need to understand the limits of our understanding and appreciate God’s wisdom.

    ~m

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  2. I agree with this. I've learned I may as well ask "Why not me?" as to ask, "Why me?"

    I'm troubled by the teachings of so many televangelists who mislead believers into thinking their lives must always be full of prosperity (mostly financial, but physical, etc. as well), when the Bible clearly states we will have trials and tribulations.

    Thank you for the insightful comment!

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  3. I've stopped watching most Christian programming because the constant focus on "God's favor" and how it will make us the wealthiest, healthiest kid on the block is NOT BIBLICAL!

    Karen Spears Zacharias (an author I probably shouldn't be quoting because I just today started reading some of her work and I don't know yet if we agree on other significant issues)writes this about the Prospersity Gospel:

    "Americans equate prosperity as proof of God's favor. People of all faiths believe God rewards those he loves best with material blessings.

    No longer is John 3:16 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,' the most quoted Bible verse. It's been replaced by Jeremiah 29:11: 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' Perhaps we would all do well to remember the one thing Jesus did promise us: 'In this world, there will be trouble.' (John 16:33) Wealth should never be considered proof of God's love."

    On this issue Ms. Zecharias and I agree completely!

    ~m

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  4. I wonder sometimes why no one seems to pick up on the fact that there are different means of prosperity? For instance, is it possible that our spiritual prosperity is of more importance to God than our financial prosperity?

    I find it troubling that so many Christians refuse to follow in their Master's footsteps. He had nowhere to lay His head. He didn't own anything. Why do so many think they should have it so much better than He?

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Comments, anyone? I'd love to hear your point of view.