Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

The Paraclete Poetry Anthology, Edited by Mark S. Burrows

Bringing words to life on a page is hard work, and no work is harder than poetry.  Poets take the visceral, the mundane, and the disjointed and frayed things of life and put them on their head.  This new anthology of poetry put out by Paraclete Press and edited by Mark S. Burrows, takes the best poetry of today and brings together old and new poems from these gifted creators.  You find poems from Scott Cairs, SAID, Phyllis Tickle, and others.  The collection stems the span of 2005-2016 and includes both religious poems and themes, as well as themes covering a broad swath of topics.

One of the beauties of this collection is the array of poems that the anthology includes in its pages.  One poem in particular stuck with me as read through the collection.  Anna Kamienska is a wonderful Polish poet who interacts with the wider lens of faith while looking carefully at the world we live in.  She says in her poem named Gratitude, (44)

A tempest threw a rainbow in my face
so that I wanted to…