Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If God Loves Me, Why Am I Hurting?

If God Loves Me, Why Am I Hurting?

 "Faith cannot be conquered by pain and suffering. Faith endures even when there is no answer. Faith longs for God more than it insists on reasons." (Segraves, pg. 128)

If God Loves Me, Why Am I Hurting? by Daniel L. Segraves is a theology of suffering. This is a book that was a long time in the making. Beyond head knowledge about suffering Segraves, and his wife Judy, have both experienced hurt and suffering first hand. After submitting the manuscript for this book to publication Judy was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. The reader can come to know Biblical insight into this subject but will also gain a peak into the reality of life.

Theodicy (Grk. theos-God/ Grk. dike-justice). A theodicy seeks to show God as just and right. This is the term usually used to refer to the problem of suffering and specifically the defense of God in light of suffering. Often the righteousness and integrity of God is questioned. The question is often asked, "If God loves me, why am I hurting?" or "Why does pain and hurt exist?" There are over 220 pages that deal with a variety aspects of this important topic.

There are 17 chapters with an epilogue and personal stories from both Segraves and his wife Judy. Chapter titles include "Is there any hope?"; "Trusting God in our suffering"; "God's nature and human nature"; "Suffering and the image of God"; "Suffering, sin, time, and chance"; "Job: A man who suffered without knowing why"; "Suffering according to God's will" or "Suffering as a victim".

Early on Segraves reminds us that "there will never be peace on this earth until the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, returns to rule the nations..."(Segraves, pg. 15) He goes on to say that "The world as it exists today is not what God intended...suffering...something believers can expect." (Segraves pg. 22) Often times the argument is that if God is all-powerful then why does evil and pain continue to exist? Segraves offers a timely reminder that God's "omnipotence doesn't mean He can do anything. It means He can do anything He wishes, insofar as it's consistent with His character and in harmony with His purposes. He cannot perform a logical contradiction." (Segraves, pg. 37, 38)

Chapter 5 is well needed. Here Segraves explores "Suffering and the image of God". He explains what it means to be created in the image of God. Does God have hands or feet? A material body? He rightly notes, "The human body doesn't reflect the image of God....God is a spirit being. He's able to think, to reason, and to choose...When God created humans, He made them to share in some way--not in His deity--but in a likeness of His essence. Thus, humans are spiritual beings who can think, reason, choose, love, and hate." (Segraves, pg. 62)

Chapter 10 is about "Job: A man who suffered without knowing why". He notes, "James referred to the prophets as examples of suffering and patience, but when he wished to hold up a specific person as an example, that person was Job." (Segraves, pg. 122) Interestingly Job, as Segraves points out, lived around the same era of time as Abraham who lived about 4 centuries prior to Moses. "Job lived long before there were any written Scripture, since the writing of Scriptures began with Moses...Job faced this intense trial of his faith without being able to seek comfort or guidance from any written revelation." (Segraves, pg. 123) Another salient point he makes is that "if our faith in God depends on being able to understand and approve of every decision God makes, we are on a slippery slope to despair." (Segraves. pg. 125)

In Chapter 13 Segraves offers a statistic from James and Marti Hefley's work By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century. The Hefley's conclude that more people were martyred for their faith during the twentieth century than any other century before. This chapter also offers great insights into slavery both from a Biblical and cultural standpoint. This is a review and not a spoiler so you'll have to purchase the book to know more.

I'll end this review with one of Segraves final quotes:

"We don't face tests only because God needs to learn about us. We face tests because we need to learn about us." (Segraves. pg. 202)

Click here to purchase from Word Aflame Press.


Jeff Long said...

Boy, I will be getting this book and sharing it with others, for sure. In our "gimme, gimme; bless me, bless" me age, as the twentieth century of martyrs is now extending without relent into the 21st in the world around us, we had all better get a solid perspective on what is taught here or we will all be blown away in the tempests yet to come.

JN Anderson said...

It's a great book Jeff! You won't be disappointed.