Saturday, December 1, 2012

Help My Unbelief...

Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal

By Michael Kelley

This book has a subtitle …a boy, cancer, and God. Right away, I want to state…this is not a depressing book.

  It is a book of hope and truth. When I first looked at the cover, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into this author’s world. So much sadness, sickness, hardships are around in my own area, my own circle of friends and family, I wasn’t sure I could read about a little boy with cancer.

   I am glad that I did read this book. In fact, this is one of those books that will stay on my shelf to be pulled out and reread again and again. Usually I skip over the recommendations at the front of the book…the blurbs. But this book had 6 ½ pages of blurbs…that is quite a few. So I started reading those, curious as to why there were so many. They were written by fellow authors, professors at divinity schools, pastors at well-known churches, famous singer/songwriters, CEOs of Christian companies, vice presidents of corporations, editors. I will share a few sentences from the blurbs that also describe my thoughts about the book.

  “Reader, please listen to me: If you have ever suffered, struggled, doubted, wrestled with a God who allows hunger and disease and two-year-old boys to get cancer, if you have attempted to believe God in the midst of devastation and fear, please devour this book like the gift it is.” - Jen Hatmart, author of 7

“The relational and spiritual insights you’ll read about are hard earned and precious. Michael pulls back the curtain on faith and hope during times of difficulty.” - Thom S. Rainer, CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources

“There are countless wildernesses: from depression to divorce, from brokenness to bankruptcy. ..I am deeply thankful that they did not waste their sorrow, and I am deeply thankful that Michael wrote this book.” - Michael Card, Christian singer/songwriter

This father writes about his son, Joshua, and their journey through leukemia. He tells more than just this journey through illness…he describes his journey in faith, in learning what faith really is. I like his honesty and his transparency. For Christians when adversity comes, sometimes we try to act brave and believing …when inside we are asking questions like , Why, God? Or, Is this punishment for something we have done? Or, Are You even real? How could You let this happen? His journey becomes one that he says “forces long-held ideals and beliefs from the comfort of intellectualism into the discomfort of reality and tries to square with them there.”

The author looks at Scriptures through the eyes of suffering and showed me things I had never thought of concerning passages I have read and reread in my life. For instance, the story of the father with the son who was sick and the disciples could not help the boy. They brought him to Jesus and Jesus turned to the father who had said to Him, If you can do something then please help us. Jesus then asked the father, Do you really believe that I can? The father answered Him with “I do believe; help my unbelief.” The doubts that come at times even with our belief in the Lord are not new to God. The author writes more about this Biblical father , insights that could only come from having been in the situation himself.

  He writes , “Maybe the difference between this guy and most of us is not the state of circumstances around us; we all have cancer or car wrecks or poverty or whatever. Maybe the difference is that this dad had the faith to doubt. Can that be right? This father had the faith to doubt? We have this idea of what faith must be, and that definition of faith has no room for doubt; no room for questioning. Who can blame us? After all, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, according to Hebrews 11:1. That’s the definition of faith in Scripture…What if our definition of faith is wrong? What if we have been putting faith in our own ability to HAVE faith? What if real faith is not necessarily absent of questions and doubt; what if real faith is more about what we do with doubt than whether we have it?” Interesting concept and one I have thought much about myself.

  This book is not just for people with sick children. It is for Christians who question, Christians who do not understand why things happen the way they do. It is for Christians who love Jesus with all their hearts and yet do not know why He allows things to occur sometimes in our lives. It is for those who want to hold onto their faith in difficult times…and do not know how.

  The author writes about Job and his three friends…and how good people, kind friends can sometimes be the worst at encouragement. He tells what really means the most in being a friend to those walking through adversity. Being there…not necessarily talking or advising. Just being there. He tells of the changes that come when you face adversity, how it colors who you are, and then coming out on the other side…fearful, clinging to that new identity you had…the one forged in the fires of suffering. He tells how to let go of who you think you are and just become who Jesus knows you are. What freedom!

This book is one I will recommend over and over again to those I know facing struggles without answers. If you have to choose one book on suffering this year to read, I would suggest this be the book. It is a blessing. It is filled with hope. It does not hold all the answers but it brings comfort to the heart and mind. Thank you, Mr. Kelley, for sharing your life and your walk with the Lord with us. I received this book for free in return for an honest review, which I have written here.


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