About This Blog

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"The Surprising Grace of Disappointment" (John Koessler)

TITLE: The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope when God Seems to Fail Us
AUTHOR: John Koessler
PUBLISHER: Chicago IL: Moody Publisher, 2013, (176 pages).

We do not need to make an appointment with God in order to meet Jesus. Often, even in the midst of disappointments, Jesus is there to meet us. This entire book is about debunking the errors of superficial theological thought, renewal of our understanding of grace, and anticipation of a bright and future tomorrow with Christ in us. Koessler, a professor at Moody Bible Institute writes with a pastoral heart in this very personal book. He begins with some observations of how childish and shallow some of our Christian expectations are. Stuff like the victorious Christian life being the norm once a person receives Jesus. Or a believe in Jesus and all our problems will strangely go away. Such ideas give false hope and unrealistic expectations of God.

Can Jesus heal us when we ask him to? Surely he will, but sometimes not in the manner or timing we want. There will be times when God will disappoint our deepest hopes, but that does not mean God loves us any less. Koessler even states that if the gospels are any indication, we too will be disappointed by Jesus, just like the early disciples and followers were disappointed when Jesus fails to summon celestial army to wipe out the enemies and make Israel a strong and mighty military Power. Even our prayers are bound to produce awkward results when what we ask fail to produce much fruit according to our specific requests. Calling prayer as an "awkward conversation," Koessler does not downplay the importance of prayer. Instead, prayer is essentially a rising dependence on God, and not a magical utterance of holy words to bring about results.

Koessler brings in lots of reflection on biblical passages. For instance, he reflects on how the disciples panicked when faced with windy storms that threaten to sink their boat. In a way, they take Jesus' sleeping stance as ignoring their concerns. As a result they draw erroneous conclusions based on their lack of faith. Faith is not in the answers to prayers but in the person of Christ. It is not in the disappointments in our expectations but the presence of God in both our appointments and disappointments. Before we can grow in grace, we need to weed away more expectations of us that will stagnate our faith. Expectations that are often delusions that the Christian life will mean less problems. Expectations that will create spiritual myopia and narcissistic hopes. He uses a personal story, the parable of the kite to show us that our achievements in life are not exactly ours to begin with, but God's.

Along the way, there are other insights pertaining to daily living, about using hunger and food as a way to hunger after God. There is also that truth that true fulfillment lies not in getting stuffed up but in hungering for more of God. Koessler also reflects on the world of work, our jobs that often are less satisfactory than we want. What do we do when we feel our work is not rewarding enough? He concludes by saying that job satisfaction or the lack of it is less about the job, but more about our perspective. He also talks about Church and worship, asking why we feel kind of disconnected during Church worship. Likewise, what is needed is not the style or the content of music, but the perspective we bring to it.

So What?

Why should we read this book? So what if we have read this book? Is there anything new or groundbreaking? Probably not. For the things in the book are not exactly rocket science. What is relevant however, is the need to make our faith as holistic as possible, that God works in both good and bad times. God is present with us not just in our highs but also in our lows. God cares for us, even when we feel God is farthest away from us. When we can learn to encounter God on a daily basis, in times of light and darkness, then we will better appreciate the words of Ps 139, which is a confession that God knows all of us, our past, our future, our present, and all our works and intent. The point of this book is this. Grace does not mean God is present only in our perceived answers to prayers. What it means is that grace is independent of our moods and feelings. For grace is essentially God with us, through the thick and thin of life. It is when we feel God is most distant from us, God may very well be carrying us. Now, that is a surprising grace of disappointment.

Read this book and be encouraged again in your faith in God.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Moody Publishers without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment