In this bestseller, James Dobson attempts to help those going through pain or struggles in life, understand a little bit better what God is thinking!
The age old question addressed by many pastors, theologians, and individuals about "why bad things happen", is answered, to a degree and in a way that is easy to understand. I don't know if it is enough to really help someone struggling with questions of their faith, but it is definitely a great tool and starting point for someone who doesn't know where else to turn.
Using a variety of writing styles, the book begins and ends with the premise, that we will never truly understand why bad things happen, because we can never understand God's planning process. We should have hope and faith that God will take care of us who believe in Him. Dobson shares lots of stories from his vast experiences with people in turmoil. He also looks at the Bible as a reference tool as well as the source of hope and inspiration during trials. Finally, he also dialogues with the reader during 2 Q&A sections, which is similar to a FAQ, posing a question and then answering it for the reader.
A quote from the end of the first chapter (pg 21) details some of what Dobson hoped to accomplish with the book:
For the heartsick, bleeding soul out there today who is desperate for a word of encouragement, let me assure you that you can trust this Lord of heaven and earth. There is security and rest in the wisdom of the eternal scriptures. We will discuss those comforting passages in subsequent chapters, and I believe you will see that the Lord can be trusted --even when He can't be tracked. Of this you can be certain: Jehovah, King of kings and Lord of lords, is not pacing the corridors of heaven in confusion over the problems in your life! He hung the worlds in space. He can handle the burdens that have weighed you down, and he cares about you deeply. For a point of beginning He says, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)
I think Dobson does a great job of not just providing pat, "Sunday School" answers to this serious topic, but shares from his own pain and struggles in an attempt to persuade others that they should not give up hope.
I really like this quote from page 196: "God is not against us for our sins. He is for us against our sins. That makes all the difference." Think about that for a minute....
In the final pages of the book, Dobson summarizes his potion (pg 236):
If you were sitting before me at this moment, you might be inclined to ask, "Then how do you explain the tragedies and hardships that have come into my life? Why did God do this to me?" My reply, which you've read in previous pages, is not profound. But I know it is right! God usually does not choose to answer those questions in this life! That's what I've been trying to say. He will not parade His plans and purposes for our approval. We must never forget that He is God. As such He wants us to believe and trust in him despite the things we don't understand.
My final thought, if you are in a point of pain or struggle, take some time to read this book and use it as a stepping off point for your understanding of what it all means and also read my recent post about Hope.