This book is outstanding, practical, applicable, personally challenging and sobering as it woos readers to recognize and respond to the uncontrolling love of God who can’t. It also helps us to understand God’s need for us who can, as “…our contributions are essential to establishing overall well-being” (p. 156).
Personally, this message of a God who can’t is good news! As a survivor who has experienced abuse, in the depths of my own despair, I asked tough questions of God, such as: “where were you when I was being abused? Why don’t you heal my Father of his cancer? Why would you not intervene in such mass evil events as 9/11? How can you even be a loving God if you can look at all the evil and tragedy in our world and not intervene?”
I am all too familiar with these questions in my own life and in the lives of those with whom I work as a therapist. These existential questions regarding matters of theodicy (the problem of evil) are inherently human questions. We often try to rationalize and understand a loving God, while at the same time trying to make sense of our lived experiences of tragedy, abuse and other evils. When our questions go unanswered and our assessments do not add up, we are either left with claiming God and God’s ways as a “mystery,” or claiming that God is “no longer interested in our affairs in this world” and/or is “unloving.” However, what if our notion of God as all-powerful or all-knowing, and our understanding of God as a God who can, is misconstrued? What if, God can’t?
If you have found yourself asking similar questions, wondering where God is, how God relates, how to understand God in light of your lived experiences, and wondering if your life matters, I encourage you to read this book. I challenge you to face the tough questions that Oord tackles in his book. I recommend that you wrestle with these questions in order to come to understand and know the God who can’t, yet who needs us and our loving responses in order to establish well-being and wholeness within ourselves and others.
This understanding of God being the God who can’t and who needs us, brings with it a sense of sobering responsibility, as well as a hopeful message that our lives and our loving responses really do matter, not only for our own well-being but for the overall well-being of humanity and the universe it self. This is good news!
Reading this book and gaining further understanding of the God who can’t has brought me to a deeper understanding of my own responsibility in lovingly responding to and cooperating with God. This book has challenged me to reevaluate my understanding and relationship with God, self, others and the world. Further, it has encouraged me professionally in reconfirming my desire and goal to help others in their own healing as they struggle with these existential questions and possibly learn to embrace a God who can’t.
If you are looking for similar challenges that will affect how you think of yourself, as well as your relationship to God, others and the world, please take the time to read this book and respond to the questions at the end of each chapter. You are not alone in your questions and your wonderings. Know that some of what is said in this book may at first be uncomfortable– you may possibly even go through a grieving process regarding the God who can, but in the end, my hope for you is that what you will find is the invitation to participate in indispensable love synergy with an uncontrolling loving God who works with us to squeeze good out of the tragedies, traumas and other evils that were never meant to happen in the first place.
MA, AMFT, APCC, Psy.D. Candidate