DISAPPOINTMENT WITH GOD
Author: Philip Yancey
Genre: Non-Fiction; Religion
First Published: 1998
Price: PHP 225.00/$5.18
I found this book in a hospital bookshop earlier this month. I don’t normally read religious books or anything that has potential to become self-righteous, but there was something intriguing about Disappointment with God. The book promised to address some of the most faith-fracturing questions known to the religious—Why is God Unfair?, Is He Hidden?, and Is He Silent?. As the author, Philip Yancey, puts it—this was to be “a book of faith” as seen “through the eyes of those who doubt”.
Now, days later, I’m glad I bought and read the book. There’s much to take away from Disappointment with God. Although the author uses biblical text (from both the Old and the New Testament) to illustrate his points, there is no bible-thumping to be found here. Instead, Yancey uses the text to show how disappointment in God has been a recurrent theme in the Bible—from Abraham’s to Jesus’ time. Maintaining a sympathetic tone throughout, the author also draws the reader in by sharing personal stories (including his own) to show how doubt can be transformed into a higher form of faith—Fidelity.
In this book, the writer encourages the reader to see things from God’s perspective. He presents a relatable God who acts as both a disappointed parent and a jilted lover. According to Yancey, God has been reaching out to his people since the time of Adam, and continues to reach out to man today. Although no longer the visible God known in the Old Testament (the thundercloud, burning bush, and pillar of fire), Yancey argues that God continues to reveal himself through his followers. It is through his followers that God makes miracles and helps bring justice and fairness to this unfair world.
I may not agree with everything in this book—particularly the emphasis on the new Kingdom of God*—but, I do think that Yancey is on to something. It’s not easy to write a “thinking” book, let alone one that speaks of faith and fidelity to those who are lacking or losing said faith, but Yancey’s fluid writing and sincere approach to such a prickly subject is admirable. I also like how Yancey makes excellent use of excerpts from the works of literary masters like Kurt Vonnegut, CS Lewis, and Fyodor Dostoevsky to help strengthen his arguments.
Now, I’m not saying the book is perfect. In fact, Yancey doesn’t answer his three questions directly. At times, he meanders–touching on one topic and moving on to the next without much explanation. However, the book does get better as you move through its pages. After explaining God’s side of things, Yancey starts speaking the language of the jaded and the suffering. His eloquence when it comes to personal pain and grief enables him to reach the reader and gently offer an alternate mindset. Yancey offers a fresh perspective wherein pain can be transformed into acceptance, anger into love.
The beauty of this book is that though it probably won’t convert you into Christianity or fix your fractured faith completely, it will dampen the disappointment and anger you’re feeling. It’s one of those books that leave you with a sigh on your lips and maybe the trace of a smile.
Favorite Quote: A large measure of disappointment with God stems from disillusionment with other Christians. P.162
*I’m not exactly a firm believer of the afterlife. I mean, if it’s there, good. If it isn’t, then all the more reason to strive to be “good”–or at the very least, a decent human being.