I just finished reading Finding God in the Dark by Ted Kluck & Ronnie Martin, and it was very well timed. The thing about the book that strikes you right off the bat, as well as what I appreciate most about it, is its raw honesty about the realities of life. I blog quite a bit about my depression and insecurities. I sometimes feel like there are two kinds of people, especially as it relates to being in vocational ministry: those who struggles with discouragement, depression, and insecurity, and those who lie.
I have to be careful in my teaching and writing to not cast too dark a picture of life, as I feel myself being drawn to this side of the teaching pendulum as a way of trying to compensate for the cupcakes and daises and happy, shiny, people facade of Christianity that so many promote. (Which happens in obvious ways, i.e. the next best-seller with glowing white toothy grin of fill-in-the-blank preacher man telling you how you can be happy, but also subtle ways, i.e. the sermons you hear week after week that never go below the surface of the page, never go beyond trite solutions, and never below the surface of the heart of the one preaching)
Finding God in the Dark is none of these things. If you’ve ever had prayers unanswered, had expectations smashed, felt like dirt, and wondered where God was in the midst of all of it, this book is for you.
Chapter 1 begins with Kluck’s moving account of the infertility of his marriage and a long, expensive, and drawn out adoption attempt of a Ukranian little girl he and his wife had been promised, after spending 6 excruciating weeks in Ukraine. Only to learn later someone else adopted her because they offered more money. If you can’t relate to this on some level, I don’t know what planet you’re living on, but I’d like to join you there. Because to me, this is how life often works.
But when is the last time you heard a pastor talk about infertility, job loss, rejection, their ego, and their broken dreams? And how God used each of these things to draw them closer to Himself…to show them His unimaginably great love for them…to show them His power…to show them who they are in Christ…to show them freedom? It’s doubtful you ever have. It’s much more likely all these things were talked about in a sermon, but you were told in the power of Jesus you could “name it and claim it”, wave the magic wand of Jesus’ name and he’ll give you what you want.
I was in a church this summer during my sabbatical and the pastor said, “If people are sick at your workplace, it’s your fault. If we were being good enough Christians, no one around us would get sick and everyone would be healed!”
Wooooow! Did he just say that?
Look: God heals, and God brings some pretty sweet tangible blessings at times, but to teach that we’re entitled to these things and that we can earn these things is more destructive than a bull on steroids in a china shop. For those of you who get these types of answered prayers 100% of the time, I have a church recommendation to give you, because you certainly won’t fit in at my problem-laden church, or with me as your problem-laden pastor.
But for the rest of you, those I’ve talked to all too often, who have been burned by this type of teaching. Burned in your soul. Feeling like God doesn’t love you, or that you aren’t a good enough Christian. Because if you were, the cancer would’ve been healed, the job would have been spared, and the pregnancy would’ve been successful, Finding God in the Dark is for you.
In the next week or so, I’ll be posting several blog posts on great quotes from the book and how I’ve personally wrestled with that specific theme.