There is no way I can keep up to the extensive catalog of Craig Groeschels work. There appears to be around 20 books published by him. There are no signs of him slowing down with his latest offering, Hope in the Dark. This is a departure from his usual formula of adding humour and laughter to his writing. He brings out a much serious tone to match a serious topic. What makes this book even more unique is that he states that this manuscript was completed years ago. It sat idle on his computer long forgotten.
The question of How is God good when there is so much suffering? is a far too common challenge that piles of Christian books try to address. Too often these books fall short on immediate remedies or the type of answers many want. Of course many authors turn to the countless examples found in the Bible of how God uses suffering for good. Out of all the examples Groeschel could have used as his central message, he went to a far less familiar source. He used the book (and prophet) of Habakkuk.
Drawing lessons from this prophet, Groeschel encourages readers to share every ounce of pain with God. He shares in our grief and knows it better than anyone. He allows evil to happen the same way He allowed his one and only son to be crucified. Like Habakkuk, Jesus himself expressed forsakenness and desolation amidst the suffering. With questions will always come answers, but be prepared to listen. Cut out the distractions which is harder than ever in this era of digital noise. Be still, be patient, and wait.
While it is natural to demand answers now, our timeline is not God's timeline. His timing is perfect. Waiting could take many years. Like Habakkuk, we may not get the answers we want. We do not see the bigger picture. There are bigger purposes God is achieving through tragedy and hardship. Hardships which strengthens our character and faith. Groeschel also reminds us that if we wanted true justice and what is fair from God, we would all be guilty. We are all guilty and have committed sins.
Groeschel admits he doesnt have answers. He grieves with those that experience great loss and tragedy. He asks us to trust God even when we can't feel Him or understand why. This of course is a difficult pill to swallow. But when things are not going our way, that does not mean God is not working. He doesnt waste our pain or our prayers; And we will get answers.
Some of the best advice given is for readers to look to their past. If readers could commit to writing a 5 year journal, the results are incredible. Even looking back one year shows how God answered our prayers. Groeschel also mentions several people in his book that have experienced great loss. At the very least, these examples allow readers to realize they are not alone in their pain and struggles.
I believe that God is much more committed to our eternal joy, our spiritual growth, and the condition of our hearts. This means that we need to grow out of spiritual infancy into a richer, ever-maturing belief in a God who is infinitely wiser than we are. We need to learn to trust him even when we cant feel him, believe in him even when he doesnt make sense, and follow him even though were not sure where hes leading us. - page 65
Readers dealing with immense hurt and pain may find this book insufficient in answers. But it reassures that how we respond are the best options that we have. It is not easy to choose the best response. It is easier to choose anger over acceptance. It is easier to choose despair over hope. It is easier to choose bitterness over belief. It is easier to choose revenge over forgiveness. It is easier to choose sorrow over joy. It is easier to leave than wait. It is easier to be cynical than faithful. It is easier to accept false securities rather than truth. Nothing of great worth, value, and reward in life has ever come easy. Groeschel encourages readers to choose the difficult yet rewarding response. A response that hinges on faith and trust.
Hope in the Dark tries to make sense of our pain and suffering. This book targets closer to Christians struggling with their faith in a good God. The same struggles of faith found inMark 9:21-24 where the father of his demon possessed son says to Jesus, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!. By looking at our past, and embracing our future, Groeschel provides hope in the reliability of Gods promises. Our suffering will not last long. There will be justice. Every tear will be recorded and wiped away. There is a perfect eternal world that will replace this broken temporary one. That is a hope worth pursuing.
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