In his latest novel, What Good is God?, Philip Yancey explores, through ten of his previous speeches, the impact God is having around the world. I have to admit that I was not familiar with Yancey before reading this book. I had heard of him, but this is the first book that I read by him.
The title of this book is a bit misleading. Inherently, the reader expects a definitive answer to the question – What good is God? And I don’t know that Yancey ever really answers the question. He gives accounts of people coming together in times of severe hardship and showing how God can work amidst the most difficult of situations, but to answer the pivotal question of the book – what is God good for? – I don’t know that Yancey ever really did it adequately.
In the book, Yancey gives an account of some very harrowing experiences that the world has endured – the Virginia Tech Massacre, the persecution of Christians in China, the experiences of former sex workers, a terrorist attack in Mumbai, apartheid in South Africa, among others. The format was a bit awkward, with Yancey presenting a history of each situation and his related experiences, leading into the speech he gave at the time. I found the history much more interesting than the canned speeches. I actually would have preferred more in depth study of those sections and how God worked in each of those situations rather than trying to fit the speeches in around the history. It just didn’t flow right for me.
With that said, Yancey does present a powerful message about how God shows up even in the most difficult situations. One of my favorite passages in the book is found on page 34, during the chapter on the Virginia Tech massacre:
Where is God when it hurts? Where God’s people are. Where misery is, there is the Messiah, and now on earth the Messiah takes form in the shape of the church. That’s what the body of Christ means.
This book offers a lot of hope. To see how God works even in the most extreme of situations is very encouraging. Yancey’s writing style is easy to read and comprehend. He presents things in a manner than captures the reader’s attention immediately. Other than the things I’ve stated above, which are minor in comparison to the overall message of the book, this is a book I would definitely recommend. I really enjoyed it.