I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
It’s surprising we’re surprised when we encounter trouble in this world. Jesus told us as much. Whether it’s trouble of our own doing or acts done to us, perhaps when we were too young or innocent to even process what was happening.
Trouble. Immediately followed by one of my favorite words in the whole Bible. But Jesus has overcome the world. Redemption. If He said it, I believe it. However, maybe we don’t recognize redemption in its various forms. That’s the argument Matt Bays presents in his debut book, Finding God in the Ruins.
All hell broke loose in my life shortly after I was born in 1970. I spent years trying to make sense of God’s “higher ways” but was told to be careful, that my questions could drive me away from my faith altogether.
Well, my God is bigger than our questions and I think statements like that are rubbish. So does Matt. God wants our honest questions and our doubts and anything else that helps us build a real relationship with Him. No “bumper sticker faith” or “spiritual cliches” as Matt calls them.
Throughout the book Matt shares a lot of stories in his book. Some gut-wrenching and some beautiful although messy. He tells his own story, which has ongoing struggles. Very early on in the book he shares the story of a friend named Becky. I won’t soon forget her or the legacy her life offers. It got me.
This book offers healing. But Matt doesn’t sugarcoat it. You have to go through the pain and hard work to reach the other side. The holes created by your pain won’t magically disappear. That’s not redemption.
I don’t believe the deeper ache in our spirits (which the twinge stems from) will ever be torn out by the roots completely. And maybe, just maybe… that is okay.
Finding God in the Ruins goes a long way in giving us an answer to the question, “Where is God when we go through the hard stuff?” Matt discovered God is absolutely right there with us. He kept a jar of all the moments when He sensed God just to make sure. This book doesn’t answer why bad things happen. It offers so much more. It offers grace.
I received a copy of "Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain", written by Matt Bays, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. With the exception of the opening Bible verse, italicized quotes are the from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.