I’ve previously had the opportunity to review two other books by Jud Wilhite, pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. (You can find one of the others in the drop down menu above.) This time around Jud sent me an advanced copy of his book “Torn: Trusting God When Life Leaves You In Pieces.” There is a lot to say about this book but I will be straight and to the point.
Overall, this is by far the best book that Jud has written yet. He undertakes the task of helping people to learn to deal with suffering and their understanding of God. The overall premise of the book is that we have been asking the wrong question when it comes to suffering and God. We often stress the “why” during times of pain and trial rather than the “who”. Wilhite builds an argument stressing a refocus of our questioning from why to who and that in asking who God is will help us to navigate our pain. There is a lot of wisdom in this shift in questioning because if we truly affirm how great, powerful and loving God is then it will help us to cope in times of pain because we trust that God is truly great, powerful and loving.
By using practical examples from his own life he describes how when people were reminded through asking the “who?” question how great God is they were able to navigate their trials, pain and suffering. Wilhite is careful to point out that by asking this question we are not free from experiencing pain and our hurt will not go away but that we will rather be better equipped to handle it. My assumption from reading this book is that Wilhite has found that while the question of why seems like the logical question, the answers are often insufficient because no one can truly know for certain. On the other hand, the question of “who?” has a definitive answer. We can know who God is because he has revealed to us who he is through Scripture.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Torn. It is obvious that the book is not intended to be an academic approach to theodicy but rather a practical guide to dealing with pain, suffering and trials. The area where I do feel that the book was lacking a little bit was in addressing the “why” aspect of theodicy. While I agree that asking “who” is far more effective in dealing with pain and suffering, many of the answers that come from asking “why” develop our understanding of who God is. In that regard I felt that some more time given to the understanding of the “why” question would have better helped to develop the “who” question. However, much more time has been spent on the “why” in suffering rather than the “who” and Torn gives a fresh approach to the topic.