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What good is God?

December 15, 2010

In his new book, "What Good Is God?" evangelical author Philip Yancey asks, "Does belief in God really matter when life gets tough?" These and other questions and answers form the basis of his book and are the result of a near-fatal traffic accident Yancey experienced. Doctors told him he would not recover from his injuries and that he should say goodbye to his family and friends. Although Yancey survived, he continued to ask himself those same questions. For his book, he posed these questions to people who had undergone a similar experience of being "broken in body and in spirit," according to an interview with CNN, from former prostitutes in Thailand to members of an underground church in China.

What do you think? What good is God? Does belief in him really matter when life gets tough? Or does it take more than just God to make things right?

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With all due respect to Mr. Yancey and the challenges he's faced during his life's journey, the provocative title of his book implies that he may have misunderstood one of the fine points of spirituality. It seems like he expected manna to fall from heaven — and when it did not, he understandably became disappointed.

If we perceive God to be like a rich uncle who continually distributes gifts to us, when we then encounter difficulties a natural response would be to ask, "What good is God?"

However, a more mature understanding of religion enables us to realize that spirituality is a way of life that guides us through good and, more importantly, difficult times.

We are expected to partner with God in making this world a more hospitable place. At times we inspire others who are in need, and when we are facing hardship ourselves, we turn to others for inspiration. At all times, we rely on God and have faith that he will guide us appropriately and lead us down the proper path. Truth be told, not always is that path paved in gold and lined with rose petals. Sometimes we trip and fall and, although this is far from easy, it is important for us to recognize, and even appreciate, the positive aspects of life's problems. It is during these difficult times that we draw from the well of divine inspiration and turn to him for the support necessary to persevere.

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