Unreasonable Hope: Finding Faith In The God Who Brings Purpose In Your Pain, by Chad Veach
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
There is a great deal to enjoy in this book, even if it mostly revolves around a very unpleasant matter. The author here is writing what amounts to a very personal theodicy, a justification of God’s ways in the face of a deep trial involving the lissencephaly of his daughter Georgia. This is at least the second book I have read involving this rare disease, as it has apparently inspired those parents who raise children struggling with such a disease. The disease itself is an extremely unpleasant one, where a baby’s brain is born smooth and does not develop past the age of about three months or so. The author gives a lot of details about the struggles he and his family gave, with their daughter’s vomiting and seizures and with the outpouring of love that they have received from others in the face of this trial. The author’s struggle gives a strong sense of credibility to the author’s desires to justify the love of God in the face of struggles, as the same sort of comments would likely not come off so well were they not written by someone with the sort of credibility the author has in dealing with suffering .
The contents of this book, which take up about 200 pages, are well-organized. The book is divided into four parts. The first part looks at the struggle, discussing how struggle comes alongside our lives, how we can easily be forgetful in the face of difficulties, and then there is a brief commentary on the struggles of Ruth before the concluding reflections. The second section talks about the remedy for our suffering, looking at the need for Georgia to be fed through feeding tubes at last, and the way God serves as our ever-present help, and that there is always more with God, and a meditation on the Seattle Seahawks question “Why not us?” before the next concluding reflection. This section was particularly tough to read in the face of attempts on the part of others to encourage the reader with expectations of miraculous healing. The third and fourth sections are shorter, talking about a movement for people to tattoo the letter G in honor of little Georgia, languages of love, and where we are to go, as part of God and Jesus Christ as the remedy for our difficulties. The fourth and final section looks at a story before a prayer, the question of how our hopes are moved with time, and the expectation that things just get better and better over time with God, either in this life or the world to come. It is hard to read this book without a sense of great compassion for the author and his family.
Ultimately, this book is about compassion. Although this book comes from the general sort of social gospel writing tradition from Christians of the left wing who are mighty in writing books and not so mighty at living a godly faith that upholds God’s standards of personal morality, at least given the sorts of authors he praises, this book comes off way better than most others of its kind because it is not a book that seeks to push a radical political and social agenda, which would be unwelcome, but rather presents the story of a family surviving through grief and struggle. The result is confessional and not preachy, and makes for a very worthwhile book to read for those who are struggling themselves and wish to ask the right questions and gain insight and a deeper faith and hope out of that struggle. And so even if the author is not one whose other books may be of particular interest, this book is a warm and deeply personal book that is moving, and that offers worthwhile insight into suffering and what we learn about others and ourselves through the process of enduring trials.
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