Book Review: "When God Weeps"
"Affliction either warms you up to spiritual things or turns you cold." - Joni Eareckson Tada
When God Weeps is written by Joni Eareckson Tada. If you don't know who Joni is, stop reading this right now and go to her webpage to read her bio. Seriously. Do it now.Joni is an advocate, cheerleader and champion for all disabled people. When she became paralized through a diving accident at 17 years old, she quickly started asking God all the hard questions. Why did you let this happen? Why won't you heal me? What do I do now? This book is a gentle walk through those questions.
It is easy to discern Joni's gracious, joy-filled personality through her words on the pages. She tells a lot of stories, not just her own, but stories of the people she interacts with through her Joni and Friends ministry. Stories like John's: bedridden by disease, he was attacked by ants during the night and unable to cry out for help. Yet still he claimed Job's words, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." Stories like little Matthew's: he asked for a wheelchair for Christmas because he wanted to be one of Joni's friends. The stories give this book a very person feel. I found myself relating to the various parents, children, and spouses who were hurting from all kinds of unspeakable pain. Joni does that. She is extremely empathetic and that comes through in her writing.Joni became a Christian after her injury. This books tells a bit of that story. It walks you through the questions she asked and the answers she found in scripture. It also walks you through the questions she gets asked on a daily basis.... and the answers she has found to those questions. Because of that, this book is appropriate for believers asking tough questions of the God they love, as well as people who don't have a relationship with Jesus and are asking how a loving God can allow such unspeakable suffering to exist.
The book is co-written with Steve Estes, a friend of Joni's who helped her find the answers to her questions, one question at a time. (Steve is now a pastor in Pennsylvania.) Together, they structured the book in three main sections:
Who Is This God?
What Is He Up To?
How Can I Hang On?
While the book progresses from section to section, you could just read the section that applies to your personal questions.
I most appreciated the perspective in Chapter 7: A Few Reasons Why. In it, Joni gave me something new to chew on from Ephesians 3:10. It is the idea that faithfully enduring suffering may isolate us from people but it does not go unnoticed by everyone. She says,
"People may not be noticing John, but the spiritual world is. Angels -- even demons -- are intensely interested in the thoughts and affections of every human being.... Nothing wounds the Devil more -- and John [his faithfulness] has a part in rubbing salt in those wounds. The life of the most insignificant man is a battlefield on which the mightiest forces of the universe converge in warfare.... Each day we go on living means something, God is up to something good when it comes to our trials. There are reasons. For us, for others, for the glory of God, and for the heavenly hosts."
Those words dizzy me. It feels too weighty to fully grasp that heaven is watching me and cheering me on in faithfulness. I don't feel that important. There I said it. But that does not mean that I'm not. Understanding that truth is my current challenge.
Overall, this book is a great resource for anyone suffering. Just reading Joni's personal story is uplifting and encouraging. My personal opinion is that the book is best suited for people who have not yet thought through the goodness and sovereignty of God deeply for themselves. It is a tremendous resource and probably one good to have on your shelf for when you or friend needs it.