I liked a lot of it. It's the story of a man who suffers three tragic losses within a very short time. He loses his best friend, his mother and his young daughter. In the story, he is able to go to heaven and see some wonderful things that help him on his journey with grief. Since I am very skeptical of anyone who claims to have actually gone to heaven and then come back to tell their tale, I really liked that the author plainly states the heaven-encounter portion of the story has come only from his imagination. There are no false pretenses. (He actually did lose his friend, mother and daughter). The story helps me form a picture of what it might be like for Samuel. It's very similar in many ways to the book The Shack. If you have lost a precious loved one, it's a good story to read.
Here are some lines that really resinated with me:
"...The world no longer feels safe - good and reliable. Since [the losses] the world has never felt stable to me."
"All loses - friends, parents, children - have the same thing in common. What we really miss is exactly the thing we can never get."
"Human suffering raises almost intolerable problems. If God were good, he would wish to make his creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, he would be able to do what he wished. Therefore, when his people suffer, we must conclude that God lacks either goodness, or power, or both".
"If God allowed it, then as far as I'm concerned, he did it".
"Tell me about your prayer life, Tim"
"There is not much to tell"
*"There was a time when I prayed. I used to believe that prayer made a difference. But then I prayed to God in my deepest time of need. I begged God to heal our daughter, and he didn't...I haven't prayed since".
"Christians don't get angry, I thought. So I bottled it and tried to be pious, saying things like 'God is in control. My daughter is now in heaven, I will one day see her again.' All true, but it did not take away the pain... or the anger".
"A lot of us are taught to believe in some kind of religious karma: 'Do good deeds, be religious, and then God will reward you with success.' We let this idea get so deep in our souls that we try to control everything in our lives. Sometimes we even hear this from the pulpits. But it's an illusion. You can't control your life."
"Just remember this...The church is not a club for saints; it's a fellowship of sinners. All too often we shoot our wounded because we are all pretending to be holy".
Good stuff. The line with the * above sums up my life right now. When you need something desperately, you sincerely and faithfully believe it's able to be given, but then don't get it, there is just no point in asking for help anymore. Your hope is gone. Prayer seems meaningless.
The line about God's goodness/power also sums up my struggle with God's identity. He can no longer be who I thought He was.
If you get a chance to read it, I'd love to hear what you think.