Wise tackles hard questions. If God loves me and He is all powerful, then why am I suffering? Shouldn't Christians be exempt from tragedy? Why didn't God heal me?
He helps readers understand what a miracle is as well as why we question God's character when we don't get the miracle for which we prayed. Wise then shows how God has purposes in mind when disasters and tragedies happen.
“While God doesn't send tragedy, He still allows it; then the heavenly Father takes and reshapes everything that happens to us.” (47) And, “When there is no miracle, we need not doubt His intentions and power; we can trust God to achieve His purposes in a more conventional manner.” (47)
Other purposes include discovering our inadequacy and catching sight of God's sufficiency (58), we cannot live independently because we need God, God is working to bring order out of chaos, God uses struggles to transform us, and a few more.
Wise's style is very conversational. This is not a scholarly work nor an exposition of Scripture. Wise tells lots of stories from his own life, his family, and people he has known. There are many more stories than there are references to Scripture.
As is often the case when trying to explain tragedies, Wise defends God's sovereignty yet claims that God is not responsible for disasters and tragedies. He writes, “I find it contradicts Scripture to blame tragedy on God.” (92) Yet he provides no Scripture to support his statement. He makes no attempt to address Old Testament disasters God caused in judgment, the flood being a good example. Nor does he address Scriptures like Amos 3:6 (“When a disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?” NIV) and Isaiah 45:7b (“I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” NIV).
Unfortunately, Wise does not defend nor prove many of his statements using Scripture. There is some good material in the book, such as identifying the purposes of God in tragedy and suffering. However, one familiar with Scripture will find much in this book lacking a good solid biblical basis. This is a reprint and expanded version of the book that was originally printed in 1978.
My rating: 3/5 stars.
Robert L. Wise is an archbishop in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and director of the office of ecumenical relations. He is the author of 34 books, some under the pseudonyms Spencer E. Moses and Ed Moses.
Kregel, 176 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.