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

Greg Taylor

Philip Yancey stands out among authors who write what I call "watershed" books that lead you to other books. More than any other Christian author, he has directly hit difficult issues, namely the most important in this book: how do we overcome doubt, disappointment with God, and arguments against his existence such as, "If God is so powerful, and He is so loving, why does He seem to sit on His hands when the world suffers?" Yancey is one of my favorite and most respected authors, and his works have changed my life in many ways.

Mina Syrian

ثلاثة اسئلة بيناقشها فيليب :هل الله صامت ؟؟هل هو ظالم ؟؟هل هو مختبئ ؟؟الكتاب عبارة عن جزئين الجزء الاول بيبحث اجابات الاسئلة من خلال تعاملات الله مع شعبه زي ما ذكرها الكتاب المقدس من اول ابراهيم حتي كنيسة العهد الجديد الجزء التاني بيناقش الاسئلة دية من خلال قصة ايوبيمكن ميكنش ذكر اجابات واضحة و صريحة للاسئلة عشان هي زي ما قال مش عبارة عن مسائل رياضية ليها اجابات محددة لكن اجاباتها الشخص بيكتشفها من خلال علاقة الحب المتابدلة مع اللهمن رأيي جزء كبير من اجابة الاسئلة دية خاصة مشكلة الظلم اللي في العالم و ليه ربنا ساكت عليه هو قبول فكرة حرية الانسان اللي ربنا اعطاهاله لكن هنا بتظهر مشكلتين :اولا : الناس بتميل دايما لفكرة القدرية وان كل شئ مقدر و مكتوبثانيا : الناس اللي بتؤمن بقي بالحرية و مش مصدقه القدرية برضة فكرة حرية البشر و تأثيرها علي كل الاحداث اللي بتحصلهم فكرة كبيرة جدا جدا و صعبة ان الواحد يقعد يركز فيها .....يعني نتيجة حرية اختيار شخص ممكن شخص تاني يتأذي او يحصله حاجة ...صعبة قوي في قبولها ...يعني صعب ان الواحد يلم بالفكرة كلهاالكتاب كله حاجة فخيمة كدة يستاهل انه يقرأ و محتاج يقرأ مرة تاني كمان فيليب يانسي من احسن الكتاب المسيحييين

Linda B

Yancy begins his book with examples of circumstances from several Christians who have suffered greatly and feel disappointed with or abandoned by God. The author chooses the situation of Richard, the person suffering the least of the examples (but a fellow author), to follow throughout the book.Using OT scriptures, Mr. Yancy tries to explain the mind of God. His attempt actually turns eerie (downright creepy) when Yancy imagines himself as God questioning in his mind whether or not man would obey when created.It is my opinion that Mr. Yancy conveys the message that those who are disappointed in God are pretenders. They are people who never had “real” faith so they never were true believers. Instead of helping a friend out of a spiritual depression, Mr. Yancy slapped him down and decided he just did not have enough faith.There was no compassion in the book for the suffering Christian. Mr. Yancy has his own experience being a pretender as he explains in the book that he deliberately pretended to be a Christian in college until one day he began praying out loud and “had a vision of Jesus”. It is also my opinion that Mr. Yancy’s answers in this book are no better than the callous conversations the friends of Job had for his sufferings.Mr. Yancy’s questions in the book were:1. Is God unfair?2. Is God silent?3. Is God hidden?My questions for Mr. Yancy are:1. Are you trying to prove the old adage “Christians shoot their wounded”?2. Do you have no compassion for a suffering Christian?3. Did a tree have to die for this book?I would never recommend this book to a Christian who is going through trials.

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.


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.

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.


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."

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.

Vivien Lee

Well, I guess he is right by saying the emotional part of the problems do not get addressed, and probably never will.But the book really got me thinking about how to see this world and our citizenship of the other world that is yet to come. also love how he turns the discussion back to how a single individual can make a change.Wouldn't call the book challenging, but quite intriguing, gives you quite a bit to chew on.Would pick the book up again from time to time as a reminder. Definitely recommended!


Another book I picked off off my in-law's shelf during paternity leave. It's a good read; I was surprised to find that Philip Yancey is a VERY good writer. He avoids cliche, always finding ways to phrase ideas in a way that sounds original and insightful. I didn't like how he used his friend Richard as the main structural device for the book; I kept thinking...poor Richard. However, he had lots of very interesting reflections on the nature of suffering, God, life and meaning. One of the interesting moments came for me near the end of the book, when he says, basically this (a paraphrase, not a quote): "Life has some truly terrible things in it, and suffering is absolutely unavoidable. The alternative, it seems, to disappointment with God, is disappointment with God."

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.

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.


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.

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!

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.

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