Book Review: Why, O God edited by Larry Waters and Roy Zuck

“Why, O God” is the most engaging volume on suffering and disability. Suffering strikes home to nearly everyone in a multitude of ways, although many people face its reality more acutely than others. Suffering likely connects more conversations than sports, business or hobbies. We grow up asking why there is so much suffering, until we grow up learning that God can be trusted with a plan far beyond our finite comprehension. The authors are experts in their fields and establish a foundation of truth for a structure of compassion and service in our diabolical world of pain and suffering.

“Why, O God” is fully Biblical, masterfully assembled and passionately engaging. First, “Why, O God” is fully Biblical. Since Dr. Larry Waters and the late Dr. Roy Zuck are professors at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), many of the writers are also DTS professors and adjunct faculty and friends. Therefore, Scripture is the basis of what is written. Part Two walks through nine sections of Scripture to define and describe suffering in a Biblical Theology. Every book of the Bible is addressed and uncovered regarding how God’s heart is written into Scripture for understanding “why there is suffering.” Three sections are extremely well detailed regarding suffering: Job (Larry Waters), the Gospels (Mark Bailey) and Acts and the Pauline Epistles (Stanley D. Toussaint). All the sections are well written.  Interestingly, it is easy to read through Scripture and miss how many portions address suffering. It is easy to overlook how much suffering Jesus dealt with in the Gospels.

Secondly, “Why, O God” is masterfully assembled. Part One sinks the hook deep into the reader’s heart in why a deep awareness of suffering is important personally (Joni Eareckson Tada), corporately as a needed church ministry (Daniel Thomson, Jessica Baldridge and Michael Justice) and as a reality check that all are handicapped (Gregory Hatteberg). Any soul reading these personal experiences realizes the “Why?” question is legitimate, but will also know that hope and answers are provided in Scripture. Part Two gives the rock solid Biblical foundation. Part Three addresses “Theology, Pastoral Ministry, and Missions” in big picture overviews and summaries of the Biblical Theology from Part Two. Part Four jumps back into the personal experiential address of suffering related to suffering in adults and children, and also the topics of bioethics, and death and dying. Joni Eareckson Tada’s conclusion is enough to beam your focus fixed on heaven, knowing that the Great Physician always has a purpose. And praise His name that suffering will end.

Thirdly, “Why, O God” is passionately engaging. Many of the writers have personal disabilities that are carefully described, while many other authors engage hundreds and thousands of patients, friends and family members with disabilities. Some of the authors have described the suffering of others and their own, while others have suffered through their own without any attention to themselves. Suffering does touch everyone.

You cannot read this without drawing closer to the heart of God with greater trust and abandonment of self in order to care for and serve others, especially those with disabilities. May the church seize opportunities to encourage members to open their eyes to the fields of those who are disabled and see the host of those on whom the Lord has His eye.

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