God Among the Ruins by Mags Duggan
With a careful study of Habakkuk, this is a book to savour, giving the reader fresh insight into submitting one's life into the caring arms of the Almighty
God Among the Ruins
By Mags Duggan
Bible Reading Fellowship
ISBN 978 0 85746575 5)
Reviewed by David Stuckey
When I was a lot younger my mum gave me her copy of God in The Slums written by Hugh Redwood in the 1930s. It was not an easy read for a young lad but I have revisited it several times in the intervening years and have come to appreciate its sincerity and its poignancy. It told of finding God's presence in unlikely places, in the midst of trial and tribulation, and at times it could be an achingly poignant read.
I have come across few accounts of loss and despair over the years to come close to Redwood's image of abiding faith - until now. Mags Duggan has similarly identified God's goodness and guidance in times of trial and torment. "Trust and transformation in difficult times," she suggests, as her opening reflection in God Among the Ruins repeats familiar words from Habakkuk : "Even though … even here ... Emmanuel". At times when God seemed distant, when crops failed, when death and devastation abounded, Habakkuk was able to declare "Yet I will rejoice".
Mags gives her readers an achingly personal reflection of coming to terms with the death of her young niece from cancer, and those words she found which resonated with her in these circumstances came from another who clung to his faith in God in harrowing circumstances. The words of Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner and missionary who died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp came to her, "sparking the hope of healing and new life," she writes. Liddell had declared "Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God's plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins."
This is a book to savour, to dip into for comfort and support, to reflect on personal circumstances and to appreciate the rewards of faith and Christian support. And having unwrapped and dissected Habakkuk in many helpful and meaningful ways, the author then reveals that she too was diagnosed with breast cancer on the day she submitted the manuscript for publication.
This is a book to make you weep and wonder, as it gives the reader fresh insight not only into living with cancer but also submitting one's life into the caring arms of the Almighty.
David Stuckey is a journalist and member of Maghull Baptist Church, Merseyside