I remember it like it was yesterday.
I looked at the box in the pantry, and something inside me broke. Next thing I know, I’m on my knees crying harder than I ever remember crying in my life.
My 17-month old son had been diagnosed just days prior with Juvenile Diabetes. My world was shattered and all I could do was cry… and ask why.
I asked why God could ever allow something like this to happen in our lives. And the more I asked, the less I understood.
I felt the aftershocks of that event for a long time. Actually, I still do years later.
I think that’s why Kent Annan’s latest book After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken resonated with me so much. In it Kent talks about how he’s wrestled with God in the days and months after the massive earthquake that killed something like “230,001” people a year ago.
In the book he first talks about his own struggles and wrestling with God. He asks the question that many Christians don’t like to think about, and than many atheists use as their proof/judgement against God…
“How could a loving God allow so many innocent people to die/suffer like this?”
It’s a question that can shake a man’s faith to the core.
Kent then searches for what real, authentic faith looks like. And he seems to find it in places that he may not have expected it.
The book reads more like a Psalm of Lament than the memoir of a man who has doubts about his God. He recalls events and conversations during his visits to Haiti after the earthquake. And as he shares these stories, we see a resilient people who’ve lived through unimaginable devastation. And we also see a glimpse inside the heart and mind of a Christian man who’s not afraid to take on the tough questions.
I’m still not sure that he’s really found all of the answers to those questions. But that’s one of the things that I find beautiful and authentic about this book. Sometimes there aren’t answers. But even when there are no answers, we can still find faith. At least that’s what he’s discovered in Haiti.
When it comes to Haiti, Kent Annan is the real deal. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him about his first book called Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle. In that book he talks about his time living down there in an effort to be more effective in his ministry to the people who live in such extreme poverty. So his stories in After Shock come as a result of this life and ministry in Haiti. His connection there is deep. And personal.
As Kent discussed in this book, we all have ‘earthquakes’ that happen in our lives. One of mine was that day that my son was diagnosed with Diabetes. Reading about Kent’s experiences and struggles has forced me to be honest about my own doubts and questions. In the end I feel stronger knowing that it’s okay for me to lament too.
I don’t think that it’s an accident that there are more Psalms of Lament in the Bible than there are Psalms of Thanksgiving and Praise. I’m learning more about the art of lament, and Kent just helped me understand how to live it.
Note: This review was written for the Patheos Book Club on Faith and Doubt.
I got my copy yesterday from IVP. He’s a great writer. I might even blog the book if I get inspired 🙂
i fell in love with @kentannan’s writing in his first book, and #aftershock didn’t let me down at all! i’ve enjoyed reading his stuff while doing some work in #haiti this year…
let me know if you blog it… i’d love to follow along!