BugWhen 11-11-145

When the Bottom Drops Out

Finding Grace in the Depths of Disappointment


Robert Bugh

Tyndale, 2011, 234 pp.  ISBN 978-1-4143-6349-3



Rob Bugh is senior pastor of Wheaton Bible Church in Illinois.  His aim is to offer a better theology - what we believe about God and life in His presence - for handling disappointment.  He does this by telling his story of losing both his best friend and his wife to cancer and showing how people who are convinced of God's faithfulness and love prevail in the face of great difficulty and sorrow. 


"If we fail to rest in the sovereignty of God, we have no rock, no foundation, no hope, and ultimately no answers." God's plan for your life involves pain, but He has your back.  There are no random molecules or circumstances.  (Introduction) 


"In the end, your view of God will determine how well you cope with adversity." (25)  "Deep pain brings us to the end of ourselves and, more times than not, face-to-face with overwhelming fear." (28) 


Four truths to cling to: (29)


"Our expectations are unrealistic because our view of sin and its pervasive consequences is minimalistic.  As a result, we unintentionally set ourselves up for disappointment whenever difficulty comes." (29) 


When you feel your anger becoming anger toward God, remember that He is big enough to handle it.  But then…confess your anger, repent of it, and walk in submission." (33)


"Learn from the book of Job; don't lean your ladder of frustration against the 'why' question.  Instead, lean into the 'how' question.  Focus on how God wants you to respond." (38)


Do not stop after bringing your request to God.  Instead, move to submission, balancing your aspirations and your desires with submission to God's assignment, leaving the outcome to Him. "Not my will, but Thy will be done." (41)  Submission to God is our friend, not our enemy.  Submission is a beautiful thing.  It's what Jesus did.  (43)


"We truly don't see God and his purpose and strength without suffering, because we just become too comfortable." (46)  "What soap is to the hands, suffering is to the soul." (48) 


"Heaven changes things.  It sifts things.  It infuses the Christian with perspective and rekindles hope." (49) "This life is not all there is.  According to Jesus, death isn't a termination for the believer, it's a transition.  Life on earth is a temporary assignment. … We are not home yet." (51)


"You and I don't need spiritual tips so we can get a better handle on our own lives; we need spiritual transformation of the one life we can't handle--our own." (52)


"Your vision of God makes or breaks how you handle adversity." (57)


"Virtue isn't just the willingness to delay gratification;' it's the unwillingness to violate the holiness of God! … Biblical virtue, character, ethics, and morality are born in our theology and beliefs about God." (65)    


"When you see God as holy, you will be pure; when you see God as omnipotent, you will be bold; and when you see God as sovereign, you will be content, gracious, and unusually forgiving." (77)


"The first thing Abraham teaches us is that life isn't merely seeking and getting answers to our questions; life is obeying God in the face of daunting, unanswered questions." (86)  "Questions do not trump faith; faith trumps questions."  (87)  His character overrules our circumstances.  My prayers for healing must be balanced by my prayers of acceptance.  (88)  "Don't get stuck on the back side of a question mark." (90)  Ultimately, contentment and joy are found in submission.  We must submit to the sovereignty of God.  (91)  "I am on a journey with God in this life to places only He understands." (92) 


"Sacrifice is saying no to something you prefer so you can say yes to God." (101)  "Sacrifice is winning by losing, gaining by giving, living by dying, doing without now so you can be rewarded later in heaven." "It's sacrifice that will keep you from wasting your life…." (102)  


Five Features of Persevering Faith


"Grieving is a complicated process, full of fits and starts, ups and downs--panic followed by moments of surprising, profound calm." (141)


How to minister to a friend whose heart is breaking:


"When you understand that…Jesus is first and transcendent above all things, all structures, all relationships; that His lordship over your short life is total and absolute; and when you lovingly and gently communicate that message to people in pain, you have the potential to help them enormously by showing them what ultimately matters." (163)


"God has spoken clearly, plainly, and intelligently in His Word, and He has given us ears to hear His voice, eyes to read the Bible, and minds to understand it.  So while we are to be humble relative to ourselves--our gifts, abilities, and life situation--we dare not be humble (that is, uncertain or doubtful) about the core Christian beliefs.  Doubt yourself, for sure, but trust the gospel, trust God, trust His Word, and yes, trust your biblical convictions.  Never confuse humility with uncertainty." (169-70)


"But lets' be careful, as we undergo change, not to capitulate, to soften, to reduce, or to water down God's Word or our theological convictions.  Let's not confuse personal change with theological change." (171)


"God's assignments are always right, but the bigger ones are never easy." (176)


The biggest problem that we encounter during transitions is the failure to identify and be ready for endings and losses that change produces. (179, quoting William Bridges) 


"As we overcome deep disappointment and embark on a new beginning, …we are on a journey toward becoming increasingly like Jesus, a transition that leads to spiritual transformation.  It's a much longer, deeper, and more painful journey than any of us would choose, yet it's exactly what our sovereign and faithful God decrees for His people." (194) 


"Joy is a second thing; Jesus is the first thing. …joy and pain aren't mutually exclusive…." (195)  "One of the great paradoxes of Kingdom living this side of heaven is that God molds and shapes His children by bringing things into our lives that, from our perspective, choke the very joy He wants to produce." (196)