Philip Yancey has been the Church’s go-to man on suffering since his first book, Where is God When it Hurts?, and is often invited to address trauma-struck communities such as Columbine, Fukushima and Sandy Hook.
Such face-to-face meetings with survivors and the bereaved keep him from glib answers. He treats both tragedy and faith with equal respect in this reflective work.
Fuelled by honesty, pithy stories, well-selected quotes and interesting touches (such as comparing firstcentury Palestine to Sarajevo), this vivid book condenses observation and theology into a wise, sensitive and practical aid to understanding the brokenness around us and responding as God’s presence in the lives of the hurting.
In comparing the Christian worldview with several others, he makes the bold claim that our protests about tragedy – and our compassionate response to it – endorse God by revealing both a sense of human worth and a moral compass that are absent from an atheistic approach. Humans are not ‘complex organisms programmed by selfish genes to act purely out of self-interest’.
Few would expect 133 easy-to-read pages to solve this eternal question and there are no new answers here. He concludes that God shares our suffering, redeems it (often through the Church) and has a longterm future prepared with no room for evil, tears or death.
On the way, when asking ‘Why?’, he notes how the New Testament emphasises the response to suffering, rather than its cause.
Those who have read Yancey’s other books on this theme may find that it overlaps too much with their content, but newcomers to his work will quickly see his great appeal as he offers helpful insight, freshly forged in the heat of very recent news stories.