The issue of suffering and the sovereignty of God is one of the most perplexing questions one can deal with in life. How can a loving God allow if He is fully in control and all-powerful, such madness to run free all around us? Turn on the news and you will find in the first 30 seconds another report of someone shot and killed, a house fire that took the life of a young child, or terrorist actions across the globe placing people in a perpetual state of fear. Answers to such a question are difficult and should never be flippant. Peter Chin, in his truly helpful book Blindsided by God: Disappointment, Suffering, and the Untamable Goodness of God, tackles this perpetually important issue.
Peter Chin is a man fully familiar with the sting and pain of disappointment and suffering. In this book, he reflects on those experiences, specifically a miscarriage he and his wife endured, the struggles he went through planting a church, as well as the pain and agony his wife endured dealing with breast cancer. Sharing these moments of suffering makes this a book that is quite personal as Chin walks the reader through what it was like to deal with each of those moments and the understandable questions that arose, namely where is God in the midst of those trials.
There are some who falsely believe that just because they are Christians that somehow pain and suffering will be averted. After all, God protects His children, right? While that is certainly true, in this life we will have trouble due to the continued impact of sin and death prior to the redemption and restoration that will come when Christ returns. Until that glorious day, we will have to deal with issues such as what Chin reflects upon in this book. With that said, the health and wealth gospel has so permeated the psyche of the church, causing many to have no foundation from which to deal with suffering when it comes calling.
Chin notes he “had never consciously subscribed to the gospel of health and wealth – the ideology that following God endured physical blessings – I must have subconsciously absorbed it. Some subtle form of it had worked itself into my heart and mind, and from countless sources.” The pernicious approach of the health and wealth gospel left Chin at first feeling betrayed by God. Being grounded in the truth of Scripture, Chin was able to understand that promises of no suffering are foreign to Scripture. What we do find in Scripture is a promise that God will be with us in the difficult times of life. Chin aptly comments “He does not promise that we will not suffer, but that when we do suffer, he will be there with us in the midst of it all. It is a promise, not of painlessness, but of His presence.”
As the reader works through Blindsided by God, they will be presented with a heart rending story, one of a loss of a child, a struggling church plant, and breast cancer. This seemingly endless list of suffering ends with the glorious birth of an unexpected and unlikely birth of a child. In the midst of suffering, in this case that of breast cancer, God formed a child in the womb of Peter’s wife Carol, bringing life from the death of cells, joy in the midst of suffering.
Chin notes at the conclusion to this book that not all stories end in a happy ending. There will be times when despite our most earnest prayers for healing, a loved one will die. Despite our prayers for peace in this world, man will continue to kill their fellow man and even though we may plead with God for financial blessings to rain down on those in need, Jesus told us the poor will continue to be poor. In the suffering and in the pain, there is one resounding truth that Chin saliently reminds the reader about, that of knowing God. This knowing is rooted in resting in the reality that “God will be with me, and as a result, I always have reason for hope, both for this life and the next…even a brief glimpse of God in the midst of the storm is better than a lifetime spent in blissful ignorance.”
It is that focus and constant reminder that makes this such an excellent discussion of suffering and the sovereignty of God. Chin shares the experiences of his own life in a very matter of fact manner, admitting that during those difficult times, he was tempted to question that God was in control. That honestly is quite refreshing. It is a highly personal response that connects with the reader that the academic approach often overlooks. While there is a need for books that provided a developed theodicy that addresses the problem of evil, there is also the need for books such as this one that people can relate and identify with for we all know of people who have dealt with situations such as those described by Chin. Those who read this book will find themselves better understanding that no matter what life throws at them, God is right there with them in the midst of the storm.
This book is available for purchase from Bethany House Publishers by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”