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Trust & Tragedy: Encountering God in Times of Crisis by Tommy Tenney

When Tragedy Strikes by Charles Stanley


Two Authors on the Spiritual Ramifications of 9/11

By Linda Green Producer - The tragedy of September 11 will be compounded if we don't ultimately draw spiritual strength from that devastating experience. That is the message of new books published by two best-selling authors.

From Tommy Tenney comes Trust & Tragedy: Encountering God in Times of Crisis. Charles Stanley has produced When Tragedy Strikes. Both were written when outrage at the atrocities was still white-hot.

"A few days ago I was in Manhattan at 'Ground Zero' to bring comfort and solace, to be a helping presence for God and good in a place of indescribable horror and suffering," writes Stanley, pastor of the 15,000-member First Baptist Church in Atlanta. "I will never be the same."

In a nation where outrage has cooled - all too quickly by some standards - the books could be challenged as being slightly outdated, but only Stanley's runs that risk. His deals more exclusively with the details of the September 11 events. Tenney puts a broader spin on his book with an intense look at the lessons learned about response to any tragedy.

"The truth is tragedy visits every generation," writes Tenney, author of the best-selling series The God Chasers, God's Favorite House and The God Catchers. "The question is, How do we deal with it? Especially how, as Christians, do we deal with tragedy?"

The two authors are united in their assertion that the primary step to take as Christians is to reach out. Stanley calls for "passionate giving and selfless living." Tenney describes it in terms of tenderness, both our own and that of the people around us. "The wisest thing you can do for them, while they are tender, is tell them who they can trust," writes Tenney.

Stanley spends more time exhorting us as a nation to respond correctly. "…we must…execute our God-given responsibility to discover the perpetrators of these crimes and bring them to justice."

He devotes a section to "Passion for God and Country," extolling the new patriotism the tragedies have spawned. But he doesn't neglect the growth of the individual. This is the "…opportunity of a lifetime to make a change - to be a different person and a different people," writes Stanley.

Tenney also encourages us to use the pain to fuel a re-evaluation of our priorities. We're coming home from a funeral, having just buried many of our hopes for safety and self-sufficiency. Now is the time for new beginnings, he says, especially a resurgence of trust in our God.

"A season of crisis is the perfect time to transfer your trust from your earthly resources to your heavenly Source," writes Tenney.

Drawing heavily on the stories of Job and Isaiah, Tenney explores the biblical repercussions of tragedy and concludes that a key element is repentance, a humble admission of our total dependence on God. Christians must get right with God before they can lead others to Him.

But lead others they must. "Millions stand in the valley of decision," writes Tenney. "Who is willing to become an anointed signpost of safety in the hand of God? Who is willing to lovingly pay the price to preserve divine purpose and human potential - even if it puts him or her at risk from the anger of men?"

These are small, short books. Both are a quick read. But both are meaty. If you're still struggling with the September events as terrorism against America, I recommend Stanley's When Tragedy Strikes. If you are more troubled by the tragedy and uncertainty that 911 introduced into your personal world, read Tenney's Trust & Tragedy. If you want the more readable of the two, stick with Tenney.

Both will convince you that in the depths of tragedy lie buried the seeds of spiritual renewal and hope.

Dr. Charles Stanley is well known through his In Touch radio and television ministry. He is also the author of many books. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Richmond, his bachelor of divinity degree from Southwestern Theological Seminary, and his master's and doctor's degrees from Luther Rice Seminary.

Tommy Tenney spent 10 years as a pastor and has spent more than 20 years in itinerant ministry, traveling to more than 40 nations. He speaks in over 150 venues each year sharing his heart with many thousands. He also founded

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