Disappointment with God

ISBN: 031051780X
ISBN 13: 9780310517801
By: Philip Yancey

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About this book

"Is God listening? and Can He be trusted?" In this book, Yancey tackles the questions caused by a God who doesn't always do what we think he's supposed to do.Philip Yancey has a gift for articulating the knotty issues of faith. In Disappointment with God, he poses three questions that Christians wonder but seldom ask aloud: Is God unfair? Is he silent? Is he hidden? This insightful and deeply personal book points to the odd disparity between our concept of God and the realities of life. Why, if God is so hungry for relationship with us, does he seem so distant? Why, if he cares for us, do bad things happen? What can we expect from him after all? Yancey answers these questions with clarity, richness, and biblical assurance. He takes us beyond the things that make for disillusionment to a deeper faith, a certitude of God's love, and a thirst to reach not just for what God gives, but for who he is.

Reader's Thoughts

Laurie

I really enjoyed this book. It deals with the topic of how sometimes (or most times) we feel like God isn't near us. We go through tough times and wonder where God is in all of that, but really, another way to view it is where are we in all of this? What is our response to God when we endure heartache or disease? Many people want to see God, to have miracles happen all the time, to have every prayer answered. Philip Yancey gives some good arguments as to why God doesn't do this. It's not because he doesn't care or he's not powerful. It's because back in the day, when he did those things with the Israelites, they turned away from Him. It's like a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario. A really interesting way of thinking about things, though.

David Sarkies

A difficult topic tackled with empathy and skill19 November 2014 The topic of 'if God is good and all powerful then why does he allow suffering' is a difficult topic at best and when you need to tackle it emphatically it becomes almost impossible. Actually, anything to do with Christianity, where you are trying to balance the esoteric truth of the faith with people's feelings is, once again, a very difficult task. Mind you, if you want to write a Christian book that explains Christianity without offending anybody then, well, you might as well look for another topic to tackle because whatever way you approach the topic you are going to offend somebody. The question of suffering is one of those questions that has plagued humanity for centuries, though I must say that the short (if unempathetic answer) to that question is 'if there was no suffering then we would be in heaven already'. Further, the reason why God does not intervene is because he is a merciful God. Basically, if God were to return in two minutes time and obliterate everybody who has upset another person then, well, there will be nobody left because I assure you that we all have done something, whether intentionally or not, to upset another person (and that is not going into the debate as to whether our actions were right or wrong). Anyway, I believe that Yancy has tackled this topic superbly because I believe that he outlines the situation quite well. He also effectively tackles the the questions: Why is God Silent; why does God not reveal himself; and why does God not act. Well, the simple answer is, and he points to the book of Exodus to show us, is that if God did audibly speak, if God did make himself visible to us, and if God did perform miracles, then we would still spit in his face. Basically, the book of Exodus begins with the Israelites enslaved in Egypt, and then God comes along. In a great display of power he obliterates the Egyptian army and guides the former slaves (along with all of the wealth that they had plundered from the Egyptians) out into the desert. Since deserts are well known for their lack of food and water, he then miraculously makes bread (and meat) appear, as well as arranging for water to gush out of a rock. All the time he is hovering in front of the Israelites as a pillar of cloud at night and a pillar of fire during the day. Oh, he also spoke audibly to Moses, and told them what they needed to do to be on his right side. How did the Israelites respond? They complained about how bad their lot was, that they had been dragged out into the desert to die, and pined for a return to their life of slavery. Talk about gratitude. But, as Yancey points out here, and in other parts of the bible, just because God is visible, is audible, and performs great and powerful feats of magic (if you want to call it magic) does not mean that we will all bow down and worship him and dedicate our lives to him. So what that shows us is that if somebody comes up to you and says 'I'll only worship God if he revealed himself to me' you can, with a cheeky smile on your face, say, 'I bet you won't'. That comment on a bet leads me to the next part of this dissertation because that is the main theme that runs through the book of Job, to which Yancey dedicates the second part of his book. The idea here is not so much looking at Job's predicament from a bottom up view, but coming to understand it from a divine view. Basically, as a lot of pastors have suggested, the thing about the Book of Job is that we see what is happening to Job from a heavenly point of view. Further, it seems to come about as a wager between God and Satan. Now, many of us baulk at this idea that God and Satan are having bets over our lives, and that God is bowing to Satan's demands, but consider that Satan does have a point – Job has been exceedingly blessed by God and Satan's argument is that the only reason that Job loves God is because God showers him with gifts. And that is true – if you have money, and lots of it, you can get a lot of people to do things for you by showering gifts on them. I'm sure you have heard of the term Trophy Wife. This is where a wealthy man buys himself a wife, not in the sense that you go to an action house, or a third world country (or a people smuggler) but simply find a woman who is amicable to being showered with gifts and money, and continue to do so until you tire of her. While not everybody can be bought, there are certainly an awful lot of people out there who can. So, what is the deal then? Well, the deal comes down to the question of love. God wants us to love him, and love him through thick and thin. However, love cannot be bought, and love cannot be induced by fear. God loves us unconditionally, and he wants the same in return, not a conditional love where we say 'I'll love you God, but only if you shower me with wealth and make my life a happy life with no problems' nor does he want a love that comes about through fear, because instilling obedience through fear does not generate love, it just generates resentfulness. Thus, because God loves us, and because he wants us to love him unconditionally, and because the world in which we live is a fallen world, God withdraws himself, and sometimes he will appear to withdraw himself even more, watching us, and waiting for that time when we will be remade in the image that we were supposed to be, not the image that we bear now.

Deb Brammer

While I might disagree with Yancey on some very minor points I felt this book showed fresh thinking, not just the same rehashed answers. He tries to answer these questions: Is God unfair? Is God silent? Is God hidden? I found this book very encouraging and insightful. I read it years ago and underlined many quotes that speak to me even today. This book helped me make sense of some of those pesky "why?" questions that poke holes in our faith. I highly recommend this book.

Erika

The major part I most admired about this book is the author's honesty. There are no shallow Christian cliches or well-intended remedies for those walking through grief. Disappointment with God is real and even the most mature of Christians come to experience the great well of anger or sorrow when stripped by the harshness of life. I truly appreciate the approach Yancey took to wrestling with this disappointment with God. He takes the reader through the history of mankind, from the OT when God was manifesting Himself day and night, to when Christ came in the flesh, to the age of the Holy Spirit. It is humbling to be reminded that God's miracles and face-to-face encounters never produced lasting faith or joy (we are no better than the Israelites!). And it also true that even God in the flesh as Christ, a part of our ordinary life, wasn't enough to secure our faith in Him. The Life of His very Spirit has to be reproduced in us in order to secure us with His abiding presence, promises, and love. The indwelling life of Christ is what births endurance, faith, and hope. Yancey, taking his readers through the book of Job and various Biblical accounts, anchors our faith, even in the midst of crippling disappointments and sufferings, in the knowledge of the true character of our loving and patient God. Each chapter of this book covered a different layer to our experiences of disappointment. Yancey isn't afraid to cover the raw questions we all feel inside when God seems "hidden" from us in our pain. This book was good counsel for my tender heart.

Diane Danielson

I am very happy that my sister Lisa recommended this book to me. I spent all weekend reading it and I'm glad I purchased this book so I can reread parts of it.

Stephanie

This book really wrestles with the unanswered, wrenching questions of faith, and while it doesn't provide pat answers (thankfully), it validates our struggle and really ends on a message of hope. Beginning with Genesis, the first part of the book reviews all of the Bible from God's point of view instead of our own. It then, in light of this shift in perspective, re-asks the central questions of "Is God unfair?" "Is God silent?" and "Is God hidden?"One of my favorite parts (page 245): "The Bible never belittles human disappointment...but it does add one key word: temporary. What we feel now, we will not always feel. Our disappointment is itself a sign, an aching, a hunger for something better. And faith is, in the end, a kind of homesickness - for a home we have never visited but have never once stopped longing for."Finally, page 253 rings so true: "It is a hard thing to live, uncertain of anything. And yet, sobs can still be heard, muffled cries of loss, such as those expressed in literature and film and almost all modern art. The alternative to disappointment with God seems to be disappointment without God."

Finny Joy

I got this book at a very crucial juncture in my life, a time when my mind was battling a barrage of negative thoughts about God. I was more or less like the Richard mentioned in the book. This book acknowledged much of the doubts and disappointments I had, reasoned it out in a very honest and lucid(without much theological jargon) manner. It wouldn't be wrong if I say, this book 'saved' me.

Katharine

Phillip Yancey writes with such honesty and compassion. You get the feeling that there is nothing about the hard life of faith that could shock him or make him think poorly of you. In this book he tackles three questions he says aren't admitted or discussed enough among Christians. Is God unfair? Is he silent? Is he hidden? Even though this isn't one of his better books, Yancey still wrestles with these questions well. He makes some points so well that although I had considered them before, it was obvious I needed to reconsider.It's hard to write about doubt well. Despite some of the personal stories he shared at the end, I never could shake the feeling that he was writing from a place of a foreigner to the land of deep doubt. Without making a comment on his personal life, this book just doesn't convey the feeling of someone who has spent sleepless nights terrified that they might be wrong about this loving God they follow. Nonetheless, I'm grateful that people like him bring their voices to the topic of doubting God.

Sameh Maher

كتاب جميل عبارة عن قسمين القسم الاول منه لا يستحق اكثر من 3 نجوم او اقل فهو مجرد سرد عادى لاحداث وتهيئة للقسم الثانى ولكن القسم الثانى جميل جدا رغم ان الكاتب لم يقدم تبصراته الشخصية ولكن اعتمد على كتابات سى اس لويس وبدونها لم يكم الكتاب ليقدم جديدا ورغم ذلك يبقى اجابة جيدة جدا على الثلاثة اسئلة الاصعب والذى اعتقد انهم سؤال واحد فى النهاية وهو اين الله فى الضيقة لماذا يختفى الله فى وسط الضيقات ويقدم الكاتب الثلاة اسئلة فى اطار حياة شخص اسمه رشيد ويقدم امثلة من اشخاص اخرين لهم نفس الاختبار الكتاب عامة جيد وسهل القراءة بدون تعقيد يحمل العديد من التبصرات وصادق الى ابعد حدولكن بعض الاراء فيه تحتاج الى مراجعة او ضبط ابائى حتى يستحق نجمة اخرى ولكنه يقدم اجابة صريحة لمشكلة الالم فى اسلوب شيق وبسيطومن الكتب التى يمكن قراءتها مرات عديدة بدون ملل

Jeffrey Weir

I can't make enough compliments about Philip Yancey. I always enjoy the feeling while I'm reading that I'm right next to him on his journey struggling with the tough questions. I can't say that I feel better after having read this book or that my problems have been solved, but, from an apologetics perspective, I now have a lot more to think about and can draw on a lot of his points as I discuss trials and tribulations with my peers. The foundation for all of his points comes from the book of Jonah, which was already my favorite Old Testament book. He does a great job of delving into all the different aspects of the book and pointing out little things here and there about the character of God and that many of our preconceptions about Him are incorrect for whatever reason. In the end, it always comes down to a personal choice to trust God or to push him away. He points out that there are mutliple responses we can make when we feel disappointment with God, namely ignoring God and crying out to God, either in defiance or desparation. He said that as he's gone through the Bible and experienced all he has in this world, he has concluded that ignoring God always has the worst repurcussions, and that those who cry out to God get a lot of attention in the Bible and are looked upon as heroes for their struggles. I don't want to give any more away, but as with all of his books, it's very insightful, more easy to read than some Christan writers out there, and has a very conversational and humble tone. Recommeneded to everyone.

Kristin Nicole

I feel odd about giving this book 4 stars instead of 5. It's marked 4 because I struggled with some of the suggested "answers" and even at times struggled with some of the questions presented ( not the main three). I also struggled with some of the content-- deciding that a few could have been left out (I found myself getting impatient). But there is no doubt that there are incredible truths in this book. The problem with pain is that it will always be a problem-- something that will always makes us uncomfortable (whether we are experiencing it or witnessing it). So to look for unchallengeable answers to a universal internal conflict, is being far too naive. As another author, Ken Gire, once said in another book concerning suffering & disappointments, " If we must have all our questions answered before we can go forward in our relationship with God, then there will come a day when we won't go forward". The topic of faith is a hard one to swallow for some who struggle with believing in a present, active, all-knowing, all-loving God & the topic of suffering is a topic often avoided by those who want to believe in a present, active, all-knowing, all-loving God. I think the author did a good job in trying to identify what the questions really are. The book of Job is tough. But Philip Yancey presents himself capable.

Ti-Leigh Telford

I read this many years ago for someone else's benefit. You know, when you saw what they're problem was and bought a book to help them. It didn't really mean anything to me then. Of course, I was only 19 years old. Now at 42, I find myself disappointed. Actually, disappointed is too gracious of a word. Jaded, cynical at times. Sad, tired mostly. Waiting for this period of my life to be done and for things to return to normal with God. This book, I hope, was a small step in that direction.

Lizzy B

Well, what is there to say other than while dealing with deeply theological issues, Yancey's pertinent style refuses to allow this to be a purely intellectual matter. He states the problem, runs through an understanding of it, only to bring against it the same criticisms we all face when stuck in the middle of a painful situation. He deals with emotions on an emotional realistic level rather than trying to explain them away and always answer why. Even i as a person who always wants to know "why" and have a firm solid understanding find that the mystery, and the way he deals with it here are enough of an answer to the why, for he shows the logic behind it. Disappointment with God isn't just another cliche bringing book of one liners, but deeply biblical, emotional and logical. Is God hidden? Silent? or unfair? maybe he is actually - not the traditional answer - but here Yancey out as to why! Makes more sense then some people's oh no - its just you who's turned your back on him if he's hidden answers which always seem SOOO unsatisfactory!

Vicki G

I disagree with him. I think the members of the church who refuse any and all intervention to save the lives of their children are guilty of child neglect at the least and downright abuse at the most.As a Paramedic, I see this ridiculous line of reasoning, that God needs no medical intervention to heal someone, at least 10 times a year. Did they ever think that sending medical intervention WAS part of "God's plan?"That people are his eyes and ears, and hands, while on earth?That's what my former pastor said about it.And BTW dying of a flu that turned into meningitis is one of the more PAINful ways to go. People have no idea what symptoms appear in the "host" body as meningitis follows its course to death's doorstep and beyond.It's bad enough to watch someone die because they have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, but sitting there and watching someone die because your version of god forbids you to get a blood transfusion, or your version of God warns you against seeking any medical help at ALL, feels like undue agony.

Stevie

Among the few books I have read more than once because of its immense value in loving and trusting God.Poignant Quotes:"The Wager resolved decisively that the faith of a single human being counts for very much indeed. Job affirms that our response to testing matter.""...the remarkable truth that our choices matter, not just to us and our own destiny but, amazingly, to God himself and the universe he rules.""Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.""We have little comprehension of what our faith means to God.""God did not exempt Himself from the same requirements of faith He makes of us.""Everything difficult indicates something more than our theory of life yet embraces." - George MacDonald"From below, we tend to think of miracle as an invasion, a breaking into the natural world with spectacular force, and we long for such signs. But from above, from God's point of view, the real miracle is one of transposition: that human bodies can become vessels filled with Spirit, that ordinary human acts of charity and goodness can become nothing less than the incarnations of God on earth."

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