Saturday, April 30, 2011

Faith and Fiction Round Table: What Good Is God?

It's very appropriate that the Faith and Fiction Roundtable discussion of What Good Is God by Phillip Yancy is being posted today.  It addresses a question I think a lot of people in my small town of Ringgold, GA are asking right now.  In case you've missed the news during the past few days, my town was hit by the same tornadoes that devastated the South on Wednesday.  In particular, my town was hit by at least one EF4 tornado that destroyed almost the entire town.  Luke and I saw the funnel cloud and it was terrifying.  We are blessed in that the small area we live in was spared.  As we drove out of town today, we saw how tragic this has been for our community.  The majority of the damage is still unaccessible to anyone but emergency workers, but the small amount we could see was heartbreaking.  I'm not going to post pictures of anyone's homes, but here are some images from the entrance to my neighborhood.  This is less than a quarter of a mile from my home, the route that Chief and I walk every morning.

The last I heard, eight people lost their lives on Wednesday and hundreds lost their homes and businesses.  The same is true in small towns throughout Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia.  Over 200 tornadoes across the south on Wednesday alone.  Many in the area are asking the question Yancy addresses in this book: What good is God?  In the face of devastating loss, what good does God serve? 

In his book, Yancy examines how people who have faced major tragedies, such as the school shooting at Virginia Tech, civil war and genocide, and acts of terrorism have found a way of believing that faith has value.  The book is a collection of messages Yancy has delivered to those in situations such as these, as well as a description of his interaction with those who have suffered terrible losses.

While I will admit that I want not a fan of the writing/style of this book (review to come later), I'm also appreciative of the messages Yancy delivers, particularly in light of the tragedy being faced in the South and in my own city right now.  The aspect I'd like to address in this post is the emphasis that Yancy places throughout the book on the importance of the church in the face of suffering and destruction. 

Yancy writes, "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."
 As Ringgold, and other cities throughout the South, face the coming days, I hope to see the body of Christ take this one as a whole.  What better way to show the love of Christ than to care for people who are suffering?  And how better to show the world how God can be good in the midst of tragedy? 

My question for readers today is how do you think we can come together to show the good of God in the midst of this tragedy?  Do you think that Christians are responsible for conveying God's love and compassion during times of devastation and loss?  Do you believe in the goodness of God, even during times of tragedy?  Why or why not?

For those of you who are looking for a way to help, I'm hoping to have some more details to post later.  I'm organizing a school supply drive through my school to benefit the students of Ringgold Middle and High Schools.  Both are completely destroyed.  Students will not be able to return to school this year and will have to share space with other schools next year - they will not even be able to return to schools to collect personal belongings.  I have some connections to the high school and I'm hoping to possibly use my blog to benefit the school as well.  I'm thinking maybe of a book drive for the high school/middle school libraries along with the school supply drive?  I'll be thinking through details and posting more in days to come.

And please pray for my town and the people who have lost their homes, businesses, and families.


  1. Oh my goodness Julie I am so so sorry. My prayers are with you and all of those affected, it's just heartbreaking.

    You ask some difficult questions about God that would require a super long post to answer but for the sake of brevity yes I believe in the goodness of God in the face of tragedy.

    My belief is that when we are down here suffering, crying, mourning, grieving that God is doing the same with us. I also believe that in the face of tragedy some of the most beautiful acts of kindness and goodness emerge.

  2. Julie- my heart has been so broken this week after I read the news of what was happening all over the south. One of my favorite parts of the book was the very passage you quoted - and I pray that God's people will step up and be Jesus to the people who are suffering in the aftermath of these tornadoes.

  3. Wow Julie, I am so sorry that this happened to your hometown and to the people you care about. I love how you were able to connect a personal tragedy to this book - what timing, my goodness. Like Carrie, I pray that Christians will show God's love in these dire circumstances and that people will feel the good God really is.

    Also, I have a few books lying around I can donate to a book drive so I'll be watching your blog for details.

  4. I'm really sorry your town has been through so much this week, making this book such a timely read.

  5. I am so sorry to see that your town was hit by this storm. I truly believe in the goodness of God even when there is devastation all around. Along the same lines, I think it's so vital for Christians to convey that God is caring and compassionate, even though we live in a fallen world full of disaster. His love can be our hope and constant in times of tragedy. I could go on... and on. But I pray that your community and all those affected by the tornadoes will be able to feel his love and comfort as they heal.

  6. Hi Julie! I live in Chattanooga and witnessed all this myself as well. It was terrifying. My friend lost everything. His house and car were completely destroyed like a bomb had hit them. He and his wife and baby left their house ten minutes before the tornado hit it. I am trying to organize an auction based on donations through my blog and good reads group. If you or anyone you know would like to participate, please let me know. Also, when you are ready, let me know how I can help with your events as well! We need to work together as you said! I hope you and your family weren't too affected and my prayers are with everyone involved in ths tragedy!

    My email is: amcnemar at gmail dot com
    Goodreads group: