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Grief and God's Grace

Robert Bugh in his new book entitled When the Bottom Drops Out has written a timely, deeply moving book about grief and dealing disappointment through God's grace. Many books on grief focus narrowly on a specific focus (losing a loved one, abuse, divorce, etc.) but I think this book really covers the gamut of the various griefs tha human beings face. In the very first chapter Robert tells the story of how his wife Carol and best friend Tom died very close together and how painful it was. He writes, "Initally, we thought we might beat her cancer, but during the last four months of her life we knew Carol was fighting a losing battle" (23). The deep pains of realizing that the person you most love in the world is gone is earth-shattering, enough to push a person into the depths of despair. Yet, as Robert continually calls his readers back to; pain and grief are real but God is also sovereign over all things.

The best thing I liked about this book was its honest approach of dealing with both the reality of living in a fallen world coupled with the idea that God's grace is present with us. The twin truths that Robert displays in his chapter on Truth in the Night that we live in a fallen world and that God is sovereign if often some of the most difficult terrain we face in our lives. The reason these truths are so powerful is they give us a true picture of the way things actually are in the world. Often, people, even Christians do not concede the fact that great devastation and sin happens as a result of the world we live in and the sin of Adam and Eve. Therefore, we grief, sin and disappointment should not catch us off guard but should allow us to realize the painful reality of the world we live in. At one point in discussing anger and frustration Robert says, "Don't be mad at God, be mad at sin...indignation directed toward evil can have a redemptive effect" (33). Taking our anger out on God in the long run only displaces the rightful blame instead of working to rid circumstances of sin and evil inherent to them. We do not always no why cancer ravages our closet ones nor why others are saved but we do believe in a God who orchestrates the contingencies of life. Robert points out that Job never understood why all of the painful things he face happened but still devoted himself to submittin to God.

My favorite chapter was Robert's look at Good Grief. This chapter is an honest attempt to deal with grief allowing the fact that pain is inevitable and yet God is still good. One of the important things Robert does in this chapter is dispel the myth that if you have enough faith you will healed gospel of Joel Osteen and others. The problem with this thinking is that God turns into our servant and is treated much like a genie in a bottle, waving his wand and making things happen (151-152). Robert point out that this theology misses the divinely appointed task of the suffering savior and the persecuted church all around the globe. I think this book is great example of somehow who has a robust theology can engage the theme of grief in a personal and yet powerful way.

Overall, I though this book was a great example of someone dealing personally with grief to help others along the way. Not sugarcoating things, Robert deals carefully with the reality of pain and suffering alongside the joyful fact that God has not abandoned his children. There is a healthy dose of God's grace here in this book and a challenge to all who try to see suffering in a superspiritual way. I think this book will help caregiveers, pastors, students of all kinds, and anyone wanting a biblically faithful account of understanding grief.

Much thanks to Tyndale House Publisher for the complimentary review copy.


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