Reviewed by Dale Lewis
When Answers Aren't Enough by Matt Rogers
"...introduces the grim reality of life, then takes you back to the perfect beginning of life as God intended it to be with the conclusion offering hope for the future as God's will is accomplished."
When tragedy strikes it is a natural reaction for people to cry out for answers to the haunting question, “Why?” When Answers Aren't Enough centers around Rogers' own heartache and struggle to understand how God can give so many good gifts and yet allow such evil.
Following the horrendous event on the Virginia Tech campus where thirty-three students were killed in the worst massacre in modern U.S. history, Matt Rogers, campus pastor (New Life Christian Fellowship,) found himself being asked, “Where is God in all of this?” The cliché-heavy, token answers he had grown up with rang hollow within the deepest part of his soul. In this personally poignant reflection, Rogers sheds glimpses of light on the path to experiencing God as truly good when life is not. It will not be an easy path but it is a necessary one to walk as a Christ-follower.
Broken into three parts, When Answers Aren't Enough, introduces the grim reality of life, then takes you back to the perfect beginning of life as God intended it to be with the conclusion offering hope for the future as God's will is accomplished. Rogers is not afraid to ask the difficult questions, even though we will not get satisfactory answers this side of Heaven. Here are a few excerpts from chapter 10 in part one: “Are we, then, not safe? Will God not protect us? . . . We Americans have an especially hard time believing constant happiness is not a guarantee . . . And if God wants us happy, then he must want us safe.” He continues, “ . . . in the first place, where did we get our belief that faith makes us safe? And is it possible that this expectation of constant happiness comes, not from any promise in Scripture, but from having lived so long in relative peace?”
The chapter where Rogers sits down and interviews Mark and Joyce Bryant who lost six of their nine children in a house fire (2006) was heavy with grief, yet hopeful. Their thoughts were both authentic and encouraging. When asked how they avoided feeling that God was angry with them or judging them, Mark stated, “I think one thing that probably helped was that, as a family, we had always walked closely with the Lord. Not perfectly, of course, but closely and consistently. We didn’t just believe that God was loving—we knew it. And we knew it before any of this happened. Knowing God as good beforehand helped us in knowing God as good afterward.”
There is a raw frankness and great courage within the author’s words. He’s searching and holding on tightly to his faith. This is more his personal story than the stories of the students affected at Virginia Tech. As a reader, I would have liked to hear more student interviews sprinkled within his journey.
The endnotes in When Answers Aren't Enough are a helpful source of additional information.
This would be an excellent gift for those who are “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” as well as for those who need a reality check about God’s goodness in times of tragedy.