Monday, November 18, 2013

BookPastor >> "Wounded by God's People" (Anne Graham Lotz)

Ever been hurt by people in Church? Do you want to learn about the healing process needed? If you have, and are still hurting from it, you may like to consider picking this book up. This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on September 16th, 2013. 


TITLE: Wounded by God's People: Discovering How God's Love Heals Our Hearts
AUTHOR: Anne Graham Lotz
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013, (240 pages).

Some of the deepest hurts are inflicted by people closest to you, even God's people. Some of the deepest healings are guided by God through the valley of hurts and wounds. So says the daughter of the famous Billy Graham. This reality has been experienced by many people. Most of them do get unreported. For various reasons, people choose to keep silent and quietly suffer the hurts they have received. Some will leave their church community they love. Others may even go around mouthing bad things as a retaliation. Not many will go on record to forgive and to publicly testify how God has healed them in spite of the deep hurts they have suffered from God's people. Ruth Graham Lotz is one such person who bucks the trend. She begins with painful memories of how she and her husband have been ostracized by her own Church in the aftermath of a power struggle, and compares her experience to that of Hagar. Feeling dumped by most of the Church people, she experiences the pain of rejection. Moreover, she was hurt by people she had respected, even receiving some wrongful accusations along the way.  As she recalls the blows, she reflects back on Hagar, how God is bigger than any hurt.

Being hurt also brings about certain positive things. She learns that people who wound others are people who have been wounded themselves. This is the vicious cycle of pain. Like Sarah who has experienced the pain of being ignored by her husband, and as a result hurts Hagar. There is also the example of Hannah in the Bible, who was constantly ridiculed by Peninnah for not bearing a child. What happens is usually escape or to take flight. Wounded people, especially God's people often run away from the people who wound them. Thankfully, Lotz wastes no time in bringing readers toward the God who heals. Less than a third into the book, readers will notice that Lotz's intent is to lead people toward God more and more. There is no hurt too deep that God cannot reach. No one can outrun God. At the same time, God also shows us our blind spots. We need to be humble to see and to do something about it, with God's help. Lotz also makes an insightful note that it is those times when we feel hurt that we can be tempted to look out at the specks of other people's eyes, forgetting about the log in our own eye. It is a reminder that hurt people are not perfect themselves. When God heals us from wounds by others, God can also heal us of our self-inflicted wounds. The chapter on the "Spiritual Blind Spots" by itself is worth the price of the book.

Hurts can also come about through the act of wounding. When God prunes, He can also feel the hurts. Discipline can be painful. Sometimes, God can use others to discipline us. Thus, we cannot be too liberal to say that all hurts are evil and badly intended. Readers are reminded that when God is in control, He is free to use all methods to guide us, even hurts. That said, God is no sadist. Though sometimes, for those of us who receive hurtful wounds hurled at us one after another, we start to question whether God is fair to us in the first place. What is most important in these cases, is to remember steadfastly that the world may forsake us, but God will never forsake us. When we are in the wilderness, God is there. When we cry, God is there. When we need hope, God is there. Just because we do not feel it does not mean God is absent. For every seemingly silent moment is a tiptoe by God to look for opportunities to touch us. Even if God is around us, we need open hearts to let Him in. We need to open up our clenched fists and to let Him hold us. One touching moment is how Anne Lotz lets God reach out to her through her famous dad. In a moment of exceptional sensitivity and love, the author's terrible day turns into a terrific moment of praise and thanksgiving. All because she knows someone cares. This book through and through is a testimony of how God cares for His people, especially when they feel hurt.

So What?

Having experienced personal hurts, Anne Graham Lotz is an example that often, authors do not choose their books. Their own life experiences dictates the way. Aware that there are many who choose to keep silent in order to avoid embarrassing themselves or others, Lotz chooses to make it known in this very personal book. She anchors her book on the truth that Jesus is able to heal not merely because He is God, but He has also been wounded by people.

Although the title of the book says wounded, this book is less about the wounding but more about the healing. After all, any hurts written about have already happened. Any conflicts have already occurred. What remains is the nursing of the wounds, the remembrance of them may be even more distressing.

I used to tell my fellow pastors that "sheep can bite." What I fail to add is that sheep can also be healing agents used by God. People hurt. God heals. That often happens through people who are willing to let God use them. Of all the challenges of recovering from hurts, I think the most difficult will be our self-inflicted hurts. Our self-imposed prison can be the most difficult to overcome. Lotz calls this the stubborn spirit. In such times, we all need eyes that not only can see, but eyes that are willing to see. We need ears that not only can hear, but are willing to listen. We need hearts that not only are open, but are willingly laid open for God to use and to touch. People can hurt us lots. People can throw mud at our faces or torment us with their words. The test of character is how we respond. Do we retaliate? Do we judge? Do we wallow in self-pity and regret? Or do we demonstrate the grace of God and to let the peace of God that transcends all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord?

One more thing. Remember that while every hurt is an opportunity for healing, it can also be spiritual moments of encountering God when we are most bare, most vulnerable, and most raw. This book is required reading for all who love the Church, those who have been hurt, and those who yearn to see more of God, in spite of their wounds.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Zondervan and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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