If God is love, why do we hurt so much?
Matt Bays has been where you are. His unforgettable stories of loss and healing will usher you into a life where gratitude overpowers anger, hope overcomes despair, and hunger for God replaces indifference to God. With a fresh and original writing style, Bays demonstrates that true redemption is far more powerful than the temporary fixes of sanitized Christianity.
“God in real life, is nothing like the God we’ve been taught about in church. Anyone who has been through tragedy, pain, trauma, or devastating loss knows that in those moments, and in the terrible aftermath, hell often feels much more powerful than heaven. In the midst of our suffering, we find ourselves trying to bear the absence of God, sometimes while doubting his very existence…Perhaps you struggle to understand a God who allows such shocking personal tragedy and pointless suffering.” (p. 14-15)
In Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain. Author Matt Bays does an excellent job at writing in a manner that is accessible for the reader while being brutally honest, open and transparent about his own life’s pain, struggles, doubts and questions. This is definitely a book I will find myself recommending to others over and over again.
I couldn’t help but find large pieces of my story woven into Bays’ story and at the cross-section of them to see God’s story as well as the backdrop of them both. I found myself saying over and over again “me too”, “you are not alone”. I am convinced that everyone has hurts, habits and hangups. Not necessarily to the same extent or degree, but all our stories intersect especially in pain and suffering; and if we look deep enough into the ruins we find it is also part of God’s story as well and that we are part of His story too.
As a pastor who has not only had my own doubts and questions about God, but has also had multiple conversations with many people wondering where God is in their pain and suffering; I know that questions like these are ones that are necessary for us to wrestle with and live in the tension of. It is the one question that I see over and over again in different ways and forms. Bays challenges the typical cliche answers and responses that come to these types of questions and rightly so. Remove the glitter and live in brokenness and vulnerability.
“I know all the clichés – ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle.’ ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ ‘This must be God’s will.’ But I want more than empty clichés. I’ll be honest. I want a God who heals my wounds, but I have a God who heals my heart. He comes to me in the most unexpected ways and always lets me know I’m going to be okay. And so are you,” encourages Bays.
Bays challenges the reader to tell their story as well. To go beyond the worry of protecting the “family secrets” and plunge the depths of their pain and share it with others. I know myself in this process comes healing. Not quite in the way you may think of the word healing, but it’s there. As Bays states, “Living our lives to protect others is a burden we ought not to carry” (p.165). “And if you doubt what happened, wondering if it really mattered, let the pain be the litmus test. Where pain is present, a wound exists.” (p.166).
If you have not yet plunged the depths of your own story; if you feel stuck by the pain you have experienced or haven’t felt safe asking the question “why God…?“, I recommend this book to you. With the wisdom and guidance of a spiritual director, Bays guides the reader through the uncharted waters of pain and suffering through the ruins of their life and toward God who is not only there with you, but also suffering with you and ready to exchange the broken pieces of our lives.
“Each of us has a calling that comes from the core ache within us-a calling to write with our lives the beautiful story of God’s redemption” (p.217)
Matt Bays has a 7-day devotional that goes along with this book you can download from YouVersion https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1809-finding-god-in-the-ruins
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