Philip Yancey The Question thet never goes away, The church's go-to man on suffering offers helpful insight, freshly-forged in the heat of recent news stories.

Publisher: Hodder

Yancey has been the Church's go-to man on suffering since his breakthrough book Where is God When it Hurts? and is often invited to address trauma-struck communities such as Columbine, Fukushima and Sandy Hook.

As he writes towards the ends of this book, "As a young writer and a fledgling Christian, I explored in print the question, 'Where is God when it hurts?' Now people turn to me for answers and ask me to address the big issues that swirl around tragic events. The question, though, never goes away not for me, not for anybody. We keep groping towards light while living in darkness."

Face-to-face meetings with survivors and the bereaved keep him from glib answers. He treats both tragedy and faith with equal respect in this reflective work.

It is easy to see the gifts that made Yancey a popular magazine editor. Fuelled by honesty, pithy stories, well-selected quotes and interesting touches (such as comparing first century Palestine to Sarajevo) this vivid, image-strewn book condenses observation and theology into a wise, sensitive, practical aid to understanding the brokenness around us and responding as God's presence in the lives of the hurting.

In comparing the Christian worldview with several others, he makes the bold claim that our protests about tragedy – and our compassionate response to it – endorse God by revealing both a sense of human worth and a moral compass that are absent from an atheistic approach. Humans are not "complex organisms programmed by selfish genes to act purely out of self-interest."

Few would expect 133 easy-to-read pages to solve this eternal question and there are no new answers here. His conclusions are that God shares our suffering, redeems it (often through the Church) and has a long-term future prepared with no room for evil, tears or death.

On the way, when asking "Why?", he notes how the New Testament places its emphasis on the response to suffering, rather than its cause.

Those who already own Yancey's début and What Good is God? may find that this overlaps too much with their content; but newcomers to his work will quickly see his great appeal as he offers helpful insight, freshly-forged in the heat of very recent news stories.


Derek Walker

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