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


Rated: A-I love Philip Yancy and his theology and journalism. In this book, he answers three questions: Is God unfair? (no, life's unfair, not God). Is God silent? Is God hidden? He provides a practical perspective for believers and doubters. Plus, the book is offers a unique commentary on the Book of Job."They had doubted him once, but after the Resurrection they would not doubt him again.""In his book 'Wishful Thinking', Fredrick Buechner sums up God's speech. 'God doesn't explain. He explodes. He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway. He says that to try to explain the kind of things Job wants explained would be like trying to explain Einstein to a little-neck clam....God doesn't reveal his grand design. He reveals himself.' The message behind the splendid poetry boils down to this: Until you know a little more about running the physical universe, Job, don't tell me how to run the moral universe.""The same urgent questions torment almost every suffering person: Why? Why me? What is God trying to tell me? In the Book of Job, God deflects those questions of cause, and focuses instead on our response of faith""Knowledge is passive, intellectual; suffering is active, personal. No intellectual answer will solve suffering. Perhaps this is why God sent his own Son as one response to human pain, to experience it and absorb it into himself. The Incarnation did not "solve" human suffering, but at least it was an active and personal response in the truest sense, no words can speak more loudly than the Word.""Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse....trusting God when there is no apparent evidence of him.""As Rabbi Abraham Heschel observed, 'Faith like Job's cannot be shaken because it si the result of having been shaken.'"

Mark Schlatter

Yancey takes on three basic questions in this book: Is God unfair? Is God silent? Is God hidden? His aim is to explore the sense of disappointment experienced by people of faith (primarily Christian) when they believe the answers to one or more of the above questions is yes.The first part of the book is a retelling of the Bible in terms of God's perspective, and to be truthful, I found it somewhat facile. Yancey focuses on the person of God, drawing on metaphors such as parent and lover to explain God's actions, including some of the actions that cause people to think God is distant. It's an interesting approach, but I found it a narrow lens through which to view the scriptures.However, that discussion makes a good preamble for the second half of the book, where Yancey focuses on the believer's experience of disappointment, and many of the themes in the first half bear fruit. By emphasizing the story of Job and the crucifixion of Jesus, Yancey connects the sense of loss experienced by humans with the same loss experienced by God. The result is a focus on compassion and condescension (in the sense of descending with). You can think of the book as a less mystical version of Saint John of the Cross's Dark Night of the Soul with a heavy dose of influence from twentieth century English Christianity (C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Chesterton, ...).


Philip Yancey engages the perennial puzzler of an all-good, all-powerful God that allows all manner of seemingly senseless tragedies and misfortunes to befall the world he has created. The book is essentially divided into two parts, the first taking a look at Old Testament history from God's point of view, and the second part engaging the book of Job and the problem of pain from humanity's point of view. I'd say the first part was certainly the stronger, perhaps due to the novelty of thinking about human history from God's perspective. The second part was alright-- it feels to me that Yancey is very good at posing difficult questions, but sometimes he has a hard time providing satisfying answers to the enigmas he has articulated so well. (Of course, the questions he's asking are very, very difficult.) In any event, although this book was a good, thoughtful read, if someone was interested in the topic, I'd recommend instead Yancey's more recent book on Prayer, which tackled many of the same issues in what I think is a more effective manner.

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!


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."

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


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."

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.

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.

Dora Okeyo

Is God unfair? Silent? Hidden?Where is God when you need Him?I know every Christian has fought this battle when things go wrong and evil seems to reign in the form of disasters beyond our means, but as I was reading this book- Phillip took me through the Bible and shed light on God, people and His hope and dreams for us as His children.I did get to understand better- and have a new perspective on the Bible and the stories told in there, and this has prompted me to read the Bible again, by going through each story and taking in details that I was oblivious of.It's a good book, one that you can read when it seems that God has let you down, or a friend. The down side about this book though is that- if you are truly angry at God, reading this will require you to sober up and be willing to listen to another point of view...and that I confess might be quite a challenge.


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."


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.

Chris Scofield

Rarely you will find a book that will change your life forever. This is one of those few."..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 never once stopped longing for."


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.

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

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