This was a hard book for me to read. It’s also a book that has desperately needed to be written.
Every time a tragedy strikes, from the death of a loved one to a natural disaster, certain well-meaning but misguided Christians assert that God is in control of the situation. There’s a hidden reason, they suggest, why God would allow (or cause) this to happen. His ways are mysterious, but he’s working it all together for good. God is apparently trying to teach us something. It’s ultimately all for his glory.
So when you get a flat tire, don’t worry, God is in control. When an accident leaves you paralyzed for life, God caused it to happen for a reason. When a young girl is raped, God is working it all together for good. When a young boy is murdered, God is trying to teach us something. When an earthquake destroys countless lives, it was all for God’s glory.
A god who brought about such evils to bring himself glory would be a monster god. This god looks nothing like Jesus!
Sadly, this monster-god theology has come to dominate most of Western Christianity. Enter any Christian bookstore, and you’ll find the shelves packed full of it. Turn on any Christian radio station, and you’ll hear it loud and clear. They may not all preach the logical outcomes of such theology as explicitly as I’ve done above, but the underlying beliefs are the same. Everything that happens is somehow a part of God’s perfect plan.
We need more voices saying that this is wrong. We need more Christians who will make it known that evil of any kind is always an intrusion into God’s plan—never something that God orchestrated.
To this end, I’m thankful that Jessica Kelley has decided to share her story. Having lived through every parent’s worst nightmare, she came out of it with the firm conviction that God did not cause her son’s death. God did not give her precious child cancer.
In Lord Willing?: Wrestling with God’s Role in My Child’s Death, Jessica Kelley explains how she came to reject “blueprint” theology in favor of a Jesus-looking God. And she walks us through her unimaginable journey of saying goodbye to her son.
The book is equal parts memoir and theological study. As a parent of young children myself, I found it difficult to read about losing one’s child to an incurable disease. Yet it’s a story that ought to be heard. And on the theological side, this is exactly the antidote we need to counter the toxic theology of a god who would ordain suffering. The book easy to follow yet thorough, presenting a comprehensive picture of the beautiful God revealed in Jesus.
Fans of Greg Boyd will no doubt appreciate his forward to the book, and they may notice a good bit of his theological insights coming through. But that’s not to say this is merely a repackaged version of Boyd. Lord Willing? very much belongs to Jessica Kelley. It’s obvious on every page that she has poured her heart into it. Her voice comes through clearly, and I hope we can look forward to more from her in the future. Thank you for sharing your story, Jessica. And thank you, Herald Press, for sending me a review copy of this book.