November 27, 2012

Seeing Through the Fog - Book Review

I finished listening to Christian Audio's version of Seeing Through The Fog: Hope When Your World Falls Apart, by Ed Dobson about two weeks ago, but I have been really busy and didn't have time to post a review.

This was a very interesting book.  It is sort of a memoir of Ed Dobson's after he found out that he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  ALS is a debilitating disease. As it progresses, more and more muscles lose their ability to work. This eventually leads to more and more important muscle groups ceasing to function, which eventually causes death.  ALS is, as far as I know, an incurable disease.

In this book, Ed Dobson shares his struggles and thoughts on the disease and on struggling in general.  It was a very honest book.  It was easy to listen to, and you could sense the author's desire to be as transparent as possible.  He shared his ups and downs, the highs and lows.  His honesty was refreshing and encouraging.

My one complaint is his, for lack of a better way to describe it, his theology of suffering.  About midway through the book he attempted to deal with the question of suffering, if there is a good God, why would we suffer?  The Bible doesn't avoid this question, but even though Ed Dobson is a Pastor and I have no doubt that he loves God as his greatest treasure, I still think he missed the mark on this one... and it just makes me sad.

He captured my sorrow in the chapter dealing with the source of suffering.  He shared how he heard about someone giving a testimony on dealing with cancer.  The individual talked about how he was thankful for the cancer.  Dobson questioned the thankfulness "for", wondering if that was necessary.  We are clearly to give thanks in...(I Thess. 5:18) but should we give thanks "for" everything?  My first thought was, "hmm.  I think there actually is a verse that says to give thanks for everything.

giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Ephesians 5:20 ESV)
But what really got me was when he started talking about whether or not God had anything to do with his disease.  And then he said it... "I don't think God had anything to do with it."  I can still hear those words ringing in my ears.  I actually stopped my mp3 player and paused for a moment.  I couldn't believe that he had said it.

Please, don't get me wrong.  Identifying the source of suffering can feel like a quirky theological maze, but the Bible is clear that God is not set apart from our suffering. Thinking that God had nothing to do with the suffering is surely not the best or the right way to look at it.  For example, that was not quite the sentiment of Job.  That man, after losing everything stated,

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
(and just in case you might think that Job got it wrong, the author quickly adds...) In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
(Job 1:20-22 ESV)
Job didn't accuse God falsely.  When he stated, "the Lord has taken away..." he was right!  This may not seem like a huge deal to some, but I believe that understanding God's central role in all of my suffering is something that is not only theologically correct, it is something of immense encouragement while in the middle of the trial.

I do not doubt Ed Dobson's faith, his view just seemed surprising to me.

The book was well written, and I would still suggest reading it.  It isn't my normal sort of read, but I found it to stimulate my thoughts on suffering and encouraging to hear how he has dealt with the challenges.  The voice talent is one that I am familiar with, and he did a great job at portraying the author.