What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey

When tragedy strikes as we see all over our world it is a question that plagues all walks of faith.  How does belief matter in those who suffer?  Phillip Yancey takes us within these pages to the aftermath of the Virginia Tech school shooting to impoverish communities to a convention for former prostitutes – who prefer to be called former sex workers.

His travels open up opportunities to see God in ordinary people, sometimes bruised and battered, but time and again there is a spirit of faith and hope that is humbling.

This book was read as part of our Faith N Fiction group.  I come into this read a little bias as I have enjoyed Yancey’s writing in the past and even taught a class for two years based off his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Yancey likes to take a topic, and break it down into bite size pieces for us, many times in story form of real people in real situations and that is what he did here.


Any one of us can recall something during our life time either personal, or globally astronomical that would make the strongest of faith question, “How can God be in the midst of this?”   I found it interesting the title of the book was part of our pre-review discussion as a group as the question came up, was this a good title for this book and does the question get answered.

Great question.

I for one think yes, while Yancey does not come right out and give the answer, I feel it is demonstrated throughout the stories in which he shares.  Time and again he travels to be with the hurt and the broken and their stories come through.  It reminds me of people I know such as Patty Wetterling (in 1989, while I was pregnant with our second son, hers was abducted while riding his bike not 70 miles from my own home and never found).  Wetterling went on to found the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, and continues to this day to be a well known advocate for child safety.  My friend Connie Stanz, the amazing lady who I am writing about, contacted AIDS in 1981 from a blood transfusion.  This year she has lived 30 years with AIDS and runs a camp locally for children and adults with AIDS.  Year round she speaks on stigma, taking care of yourself, etc….

Where is God when it hurts? Where God’s people are. Where misery is, there is the Messiah, and now on earth the Messiah takes form in the shape of the church. That’s what the body of Christ means.  Page 34

Ok – maybe I digress but what I seen in this book was people in all situations maybe not on the track that they thought they would be on due to life “opportunities”, I see God using us the ordinary and making us extraordinary.  This is faith in tragedy’s wake.  Early on in the book Philip Yancey talks about a near death experience when he rolls his SUV he is driving.  While waiting for help three questions came to mind:

1.Who will I miss?  2.How have I spent my life?  3.Am I ready for what happens next?

Those are questions that give me pause as well and as he wrote them I had to ask them to myself. 

The book has some interesting chapters and one that stuck with most of the Faith N Fiction group was the one about the former sex workers.  I enjoyed parts of this book and the stories that went with it.  I liked the thought of Philip going into these different parts of our world and seeing that God does work within the brokenness of our circumstances.  

So what Good is God?  I believe He builds us up through the ashes of broken lives and dreams.  Look in the book… look at the things that people have faced and how they came through.  I seen this read as showing that God does show up – not always in the ways we had hoped, but always as He had planned.  Advocates, strong people of faith are built in many cases through hardship.

Romans 8 reminds us that all these things can be used for good.  All of them are redeemable.

The book is not perfect, I liked it but as I said earlier, I have liked some of his other writing better.  My takeaway comes a lot from who I am and where my passions lie and how God works within these passions in me.

(I apologize if this review seems scattered, I booked myself pretty tight with commitments this weekend and had a class last night and today again from 8 – noon.  I had a small window to come home and write this before I have to go and pick up Chance…. the proactive side of me should have written this days ago and it is totally on me that I waited until the last minutes to organize my thoughts here.  :))

There are some wonderful thoughts around the blogesphere today on this book… please stop and check them out!

The Faith and Fiction Round Table :

Amy at My Friend Amy
Heather at Book Addiction
Julie at Book Hooked Blog
Carrie at Books and Movies
Jennifer at Crazy for Books
Ronnica at Ignorant Historian                                                                                                                                                                                                               Hannah at Word Lily
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket
Thomas at My Random Thoughts
Liz at Roving Reads
Sherry at Semicolon
Florinda at The 3 R’s Blog
Tina at Tina’s Book Reviews
Brooks at Victorious Cafe

About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Want To Be Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on April 30, 2011, in Book Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Very well said – I do think that what we take away from a book like this is all about who we are and what we have dealt with in our lives. Good thoughts!

  2. I agree, I had some valuable takeaways, too. (mostly they’ll come in my review …)

  3. I love reading everyone’s thoughts on this. I definitely had some valuable takeaways myself.

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