Book Review: When There Is No Miracle

When There Is No Miracle:  Finding Hope In Pain And Suffering, by Robert L. Wise

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]

In an unexpected way, this book managed to fill a nice niche in my frighteningly lengthy collection on the problem of evil [1], a problem I dwell on at considerable length as a reader and writer.  This particular book is a classic, speaks from a Pentecostal or Holiness perspective, which mars only the last chapter with its speculations on the workings of the Holy Spirit, and deals thoughtfully and seriously with the doubts and questions that people have about whether God listens, or what God is doing when there is no miracle, when God appears silent in the face of our pain, without blaming the people involved themselves.  Most of this book’s insights come in reframing the questions that we would have towards God, in avoiding cliches for those who are struggling through difficult times while also changing the question of why to what for in terms of what is going on in our lives.  In a way, this book is a Christian version of the approach of Victor Frankl’s logotherapy, in that the author urges readers to find meaning and purpose in suffering to make it possible to endure what would otherwise be earth-shattering.

The book consists of twelve chapters, most of which deal in one way or another with the problem of pain.  The author begins with the sensible question:  where one begins, and then points out the assurance of things hoped for, which is not always what we would most like or wish in the face of trouble.  The author encourages readers to play it straight and be open and honest about their struggles, not something that is often done well in our contemporary culture, and then spends several chapters talking about the paradox of pain, the profit from pain, the power in pain, the instigator of pain (Satan), and the inevitability of pain.  After this the author winds down his point, talking about the ways that God speaks through the apparent silence in our lives, what we do while waiting for a miracle, what a miracle looks like, containing a few too many convenient examples from the author’s own personal life, and a final discussion on death being less than an enemy because of the power of life that comes from Jesus Christ, something which could have been explained a bit better given the fact that 1 Corinthians 15:26 tells us that the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, which makes it clear that death is an enemy and not a friend of believers.

Nevertheless, even if this author is a bit clumsy in his statements and even if he is clearly biased by an incorrect viewpoint with regards to the supposed spiritual revival that the author sees in vain as happening in the 1970’s, there is much to gain from this book for the careful reader who manages to avoid the author’s missteps and stick to the biblical core of what is discussed.  All too many people, including, it should be noted, the author, are a bit too quick to sell a false bill of goods when it comes to the workings of God in various situations.  Nevertheless, it is of great importance to realize that God does still work through miracles, and to understand that a miracle is not a violation of the laws of the universe but a revelation of higher purposes than we can understand on our own human level.  By maintaining a sense of mystery rather than believing that we have to solve and understand everything in our lives, we are given a sense of humility and avoid at least some of the trouble and torment that comes from life.  And, if you have lived the sort of life that some of us have, opportunities to avoid torment should be taken wherever possible, all other things being equal, even though we can learn much through our suffering as God permits.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/book-review-unreasonable-hope/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/book-review-reasons-to-believe/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/book-review-when-i-pray-what-does-god-do/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/book-review-god-is-just-not-fair/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/book-review-the-dave-test/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/book-review-if-god-is-good/

 

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Book Review: When There Is No Miracle

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Moving In The Apostolic | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Transformed | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Answering The Toughest Questions About Suffering And Evil | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Miracles | Edge Induced Cohesion

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