Book Review [Amazed and Confused]

Amazed and Confused
When God's Actions Collide With Our Expectations
Heather Zempel

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Genre:  Bible Study
Released:  2014

[rear cover]
          Have you ever prayed for something or someone in earnest, seeking God's will, only to be left confused by God's response?  Have you questioned why a good God would allow bad things to happen to good people?  Has a long-standing prayer request gone unanswered?  In Amazed and Confused, Heather Zempel tackles these questions head-on by exploring the book of Habakkuk.
          The prophet Habakkuk begged God for revival and that He would turn the hearts of faithless people back to Him.  God's answer to Habakkuk was, 'Take a look at the nations and watch what happens!  You will be shocked and amazed' (1:5, The Voice). The vision God gave Habakkuk was one of warfare and exile.  Not exactly the response you'd expect from a 'good God.'
          How do you respond when God's actions seem out of line with His character and promises?  Amazed and Confused proceeds systematically through the book of Habakkuk, exploring the prophet's prayer, God's response, and the prophet's journey from confusion to worship.  This interactive Bible study is the perfect choice for those who are hurting and confused about God's responses to their prayers.

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From the first few pages, I knew this was going to be a good book.  Why? Because this quote really stuck out to me, and I hadn't even made it to the second page of the Introduction!

"God doesn't claim to be nice. He claims to be love, and there is a big difference." (page xi)

In this study, we see the side of God that makes us confused and angry -- Why would He allow such a thing to happen?  How dare He!  Why didn't I get the job?  Why did He take that little girl?  Why? Why? Why?

Though we so often do not understand, or even comprehend, His ways and actions, He loves us enough to have the immeasurable patience required in dealing with us.  Habakkuk knew the confusion in understanding his God, and had the guts to stand up to His face and ask, "Why?"  

All too often, we take the half of Scripture that looks and sounds good and use it to encourage ourselves and others that the world we live in isn't really that bad.  For instance, the verse "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13) is used for motivation, but Paul was actually "referring to his ability to live and thrive in whatever circumstances life threw into his path..." (page xiii)  This just emphasizes that we shouldn't take anything out of context.   But don't get me wrong!  That doesn't mean, stop quoting Scripture such as this!

I think the quote below from Mrs. Zempel sums the topic of God's ways rather nicely:

"Habakkuk's God is not one who promises safety from the agonies of life; rather, He is a God who is sovereign over the agonies of life.  Habakkuk's God does not promise deliverance in the valley of the shadow of death, but presence." (page xiv)

Wow.  I like that.  Not much more I need to say.  :]

(Haha, gotcha!  Your grinning now, right? Or face-palming your forehead. . .  :D  Yep, I have just a little more to add. . .)

Still, in Habakkuk, we see a little-known prophet who isn't afraid to confront God with his questions.

"Robert Chisholm summarizes the dialogue between God and Habakkuk as follows:
Habakkuk:  How long must the unjust triumph? (Hab. 1:2-4)
God:  Justice is on the way! (Hab. 1:4-11)
Habakkuk:  You call this justice? (Hab. 1:12-2:1)
God:  Justice will indeed prevail in due time. (Hab. 2:2-20)
Habakkuk:  I have heard. . . I will rejoice. (Hab. 3:1-19) "

See what I mean?  However, this doesn't mean we should argue with God on every little thing.  He alone is sovereign.  He alone knows what we need.  Though it may not be what we want. . .  Our responses to His actions can either brighten His Light, so others see Him in us, or darken it.  Whether it be a prayer miraculously answered, or silence, which in itself, is an answered prayer.

Mrs. Zempel encourages her readers to turn their "why?" and "how long?" questions into prayer requests that can strengthen our trust and faith in the God who is in control.

This is my prayer:
Help me to have patience and faith regarding Your ways and Your will for my life.
Draw me ever closer to You.

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Recommended ages:  14+

I was provided a copy of this book thanks to BookLookBloggers.com.

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2 comments

ashley said...

This book sounds sooo good! I feel like I have to read it now :P thanks for posting about it; otherwise I would have never heard of it!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Marvelous! That's my goal: to introduce new books (and maybe films) to my readers! :D

Thanks for commenting, Ashley! ^__^