To live is often to feel pain. Some people have worse experiences than others, and when we look around at the horror of the world that surrounds us, many ask these questions: Where is God? Does He really care? If He truly loves us, then why are we in so much pain? These are the questions that Matt Bays addresses in his new book, Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain.
In this book, Bays draws upon his memories of abuse, the pains of sister’s cancer, and upon the experiences that he has had with other people in his life to tell a story about God. Bays says that at the outset, he didn’t know what this story was going to be, and he chronicles his pain and questions. He finds himself also, however, chronicling moments of grace and the images and realizations that he finds about God as a result of his own journey through dealing with his pain.
I don’t really want to give too much away about his memories and his experiences. I think it’s much better for the reader to uncover the memoirist’s life as he tells it. However, I will say that some of the details that he paints with his words are horrifying and gut-wrenching (but not too graphic for the sensitive reader). There’s cancer, incest, suicide, diseased people, and so much more on display in this memoir. Bays says he writes the memoir to tell the story of the “unredeemed.” The people who aren’t healed. The people who aren’t saved from pain. I think all of us will have stories in our lives or in the lives of people we know that we can relate to after reading this book.
I found Bays gentle musings and the mixing of narrative memories with reflections on God and his nature to be riveting. This is perhaps the most moving memoir I’ve read in five years. It is an emotional roller coaster though, and I will admit that I wept several times over the course of reading this book.
I guess the best way to describe how I feel about this book is to coin a phrase that Bays uses several times throughout the text. Me encanta. I love. I’m going to be recommending his honest and beautiful story to those I know who are suffering and struggling with these questions as a meet them along life’s path.
Disclaimer: I received advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.