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When the Bottom Drops Out: Finding Grace in…
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When the Bottom Drops Out: Finding Grace in the Depths of Disappointment

by Robert Bugh

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We Westerners, particularly in America, tend to have it pretty good when it comes to our existence. Whether we know it or not, most of us live rather charmed lives. The evils and difficulties of life that are front and center before so many-- illness, famine, oppression, and other such trials-- rarely come upon us. While there are many benefits to such a life, what happens when things start going wrong? What do we do when the "bottom drops out"?

Robert Bugh recently experienced this type of trial when he lost both his best friend and then soon after his wife to cancer in the prime of life. He recounts his story and some of the lessons he has learned in When the Bottom Drops Out: Finding Grace in the Depths of Disappointment.

The book describes first the death of his friend Tom and then his wife Carol and the lessons he learned throughout the process. He does well at illustrating stories of overcoming difficulties and standing firm in the face of challenge in Scripture with Joseph, Abraham, and Jeremiah. He describes the challenges experienced during the periods of the illnesses, the immediate after-effects of grief, the nuances of change vs. transition and how to handle both (with the Exodus story as a paradigm), and concludes with his later marriage to his best friend's widow and the challenges inherent in forming viable stepfamilies.

The author is Evangelical with strong Calvinist flavors but at least recognizes the critical need for growth, development, and obedience in faith. Much of his Biblical commentary and exposition is sound but places a lot of trust in the proposition that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations.

There is value in the book in terms of understanding that life was never promised to be all roses and cherries; sometimes an author's personal journey can be helpful to people in distress to see that there can be a way forward while holding firm to the faith. At times the book does get overly personal, which can be good but it also can limit the scope of the book. For one seeking to come to grips with the mortal illness of a loved one, this book has great value; for others seeking to come to grips with other tragedies, this book may not always hit the mark.

Nevertheless, any message that reinforces our need to trust in God in the face of trials and difficulties, declaring that difficulties will come whether we like it or not, and therefore our need to prepare for such events is useful. Americans today often live in a fantasy world where everything should be great, and when things go wrong, it must be God's fault, maintaining a superficial faith that cannot withstand any such challenge. Problems in life is no evidence of being forsaken by God; problems in life happen, they try us and test us, and whether or not we continue to believe in God says far more about our level of trust in God than about God Himself. The Bible is replete with stories of people in far more dire straits than ourselves finding sustenance, strength, and ultimate deliverance through their trust in God. Few today can grapple with God with the questions of evil and suffering in complete faith like Job; faith seems to be the first casualty in such questions. It need not be, but it will demand the promotion of a more robust faith.

Trials and difficulties will come; faith will be tested. Will it stand or not?

*--book received as part of early review program ( )
  deusvitae | Nov 29, 2011 |
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Nobody is immune to disappointment. Unfortunately, at some point all of us will face that horrific moment when the bottom completely drops out of out of our life, leaving us broken, devastated, and desperately searching for God's grace. Pastor and theologian Robert Bugh has experienced unthinkable pain and disappointment firsthand, having lost both his wife and his best friend to cancer within a year and a half of each other. Though devastating, Bugh's tragedy also brought him into a stronger, deeper relationship with God. When the Bottom Drops Out chronicles Rob's journey from loss to restoration and shows readers how to find and hold tightly to Christ through even the most painful episodes of life. Bugh's story is proof positive that while pain and disappointment are an unavoidable part of life, God is nonetheless faithful, holding us close at all times and in all circumstances.… (more)

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