Good God, Lousy World, & Me by Holly Burkhalter
How does a journalist with a skeptical eye and a quick wit find peace with God? In this new book, Good God, Lousy World, & Me by Holly Burkhalter, advocate for government relations for IJM, she tells her story of wrestling with God, examining the fractures of sin in the world, and coming to see that hope is not lost, because believers in the world do make a difference. Early on she talks about her perspective of believing in God by writing, “I was sick with fury. To me, believing in God was not only foolish, but it would have felt like I was breaking faith with all those Rwandan children, women, and men he had abandoned (7).” The perennial question, “Where is God in the midst of suffering and evil atrocities,” was one that Holly personally wrestled with as she investigated some of the deadliest situations in the world.
It wasn’t until Holly and her husband John decided to adopt a four month old from China, Grace Bofa that Holly’s outlook changed. She writes, “It wasn’t a prayer exactly, but it was the beginning of a different way of thinking about the world and about God. Whoever created Gracie, saved her life when she was found at one week of age, and brought her to us in the middle of China as a tiny, breathtakingly lovely baby had to be very, very good. I didn’t know whom to thank, but I was overwhelmingly grateful (8-9).” The adoption of another child, going to St. Peter’s Catholic Church for nine years before she became a Christian left an indelible mark on Holly’s life. Yet, it was also Gary Haugen, the founder of IJM who answered Holly’s questions, and led her to see that God was not finished with the work Holly was doing and that IJM would do for those burned by war and violence. As Holly puts it, “As he put it, God has a plan to fight injustice, and that plan is us – he people. There is no Plan B. With a careful study and proclamation of the Scripture on justice, Gary began to open for Holly the way God feels about injustice and what we should do about it. The beauty about Holly’s conversion is that “she stumbled across a good God in precisely the places I had cursed him for abandoning (17).” In the midst of Rwanda, Kosovo, and Auschwitz, many find enough reason to curse God and die, yet for Holly, these places were reminders that God will wipe away tears from every eye and that her work for justice was necessary for God’s work on Earth.
Another beautiful section in the book comes for the chapter entitled The Noise in My Brain. Three deeply faithful people, a Ugandan land mine survivor, a Roman Catholic bishiop, and a heart-on-her sleeve evangelical doctor began to share their stories, their lives, and the way God had intervened to heal them. Holly steers clear in the book of having all the answers to suffering and pain in the world, but she brings us closer to see that God is in the midst of these things through his people. From the wonderful gift of a dog (80), to the gift of seeing two beautiful adopted children grow up, Holly has seen her faith grow in the midst of a fallen world.
Thanks to Blogging for Books and Convergent for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.