There are some books which affect me so much that I have to go back and reread them again; usually more slowly the second time. They are like a fine liqueur; sweet and strong, appreciated in small amounts, savoured. Phillip Yancey’s book, Disappointment With God, is one of these books to be read slowly; to return to over and over again.
I suppose the book is so meaningful for me because the situations he addresses fit the circumstances of my life. It came at just the right time.
I have been struggling with the fact that my father has Alzheimer’s disease. As I watch my father’s illness advance, I feel as if I am watching a preview of my own future. I have been fighting the whole idea that this may be what life dishes out for me. This makes me angry. It makes me want to be able to decide my own fate. I want God to take this disease out of my picture.
I think mostly I am just expressing some very selfish feelings about wanting to maintain my mental capabilities above all else. I don’t like the scenario I see playing itself out in my Dad’s life. So I have spent some time protesting, begging for a better way to go, an easier route to the end. Instead God helps me find this book. In it I see a different point of view as Yancey explores the story of Job.
In this book, my attention is directed to the promise of God’s constant presence as we struggle through life. Nowhere does God promise us a trouble free or painless life. The world is a flawed place; something has gone terribly amuck with his perfect plan for it, so these things happen. Is there a reason for this kind of suffering? God only knows. He doesn’t give me some good sounding reason nor does he promise me that I will be spared. God does tell me that he feels and understands the pain a disease like this causes.
Life was also painful for Jesus – God himself. He has lived within the limits of our humanness and knows what it feels like to be hurt and seemingly abandoned by God. It is comforting to me to know that God knows our condition. He’s been there and he will walk with us through our dark days.
As I read this book, I began to understand a bit more of what Christ’s coming to earth really means. He chose to experience the limitations of our humanness so that we could see and know how much he loves us. Maybe that is my part in the struggle going on in the cosmos – just to trust and not lose hope. To stand firm in my faith no matter what comes knowing that God does care and that I never have to endure life all on my own.
Funny how when I get to the end of my ability to understand, when I rebel at what life dishes out for me, when I begin to cry out in agony to God with my fears; that is when I sense God’s provision for me the most. That is when I begin to know with more certainty that he is God and that he cares. That is when I feel my quest to know God has maybe gone one tiny baby step in the right direction.