Review of Wounded By God’s People, by Ruth Graham Lotz

wounded by gods peopleIt’s a sad but all-too-prevalent fact of life that while Christian churches have some of the most true, nurturing, and loving people in the world, they also can have some of the most hypocritical, hurtful, closed-minded people as well. And sometimes when you get hurt by Christians, it hurts much more than when you’re hurt by non-Christians, just because you would think that someone who has been born again and strives to be a reflection of Christ should know better.

But churches are made of humans, humans are imperfect, and then imperfect humans get together the results can be devastating. Among my own friends, I can count many who have had a heart to serve God, but who ultimately were disappointed by people who were supposed to love them but ended up doing just the opposite.

Wounded by God’s People: Discovering How God’s Love Heals Our Hearts is a book by Ruth Graham Lotz, who has been there. As the daughter of Billy Graham, and someone with a heart to serve God herself, she has faced all kinds of mistreatment, persecution, and unreasonable expectations simply because of her name, borne out of jealousy, resentment, and envy.

The story of Hagar is usually just a blip in the book of Genesis, but Ruth Graham Lotz takes it and really dives examines it closely, doing what very few of us do when reading that story and trying to commiserate with Hagar. Here, you have a woman who was ripped away from her home to be a slave in Egypt and then sent to be a slave of Abraham. And in that role, she experienced horrific treatment from both Sarah and Abraham, people who still today are considered among the most faithful and godly people who ever walked the planet.

When we put ourselves in Hagar’s shoes, it’s a sobering wakeup call, as when we’re mistreated by God’s people we often go through the same emotions she must have gone through. Feelings of shock, self-pity, isolation, shame, resentment, confusion, injustice, sadness (to the point of wanting to give up on life). But as Hagar experienced, we can also feel the loving hand of God as well.

Anne Graham Lotz doesn’t share many anecdotes about her father’s ministry, but she shares plenty of personal stories about mistreatment she and her husband experienced. While it’s not stated, it’s almost assured that some of this was due to jealousy, some due to unrealistic expectations, and some due to her more conservative approach to scripture. In any case, she’s amazingly open about her own experience and her own emotions, but it’s not just a book complaining about how she was treated, but also one that goes through her own internal conflicts and at times her own recognition of her own flaws.

I really appreciated this book. I won’t go so far as to say it’s going to immediately bring you relief and reconciliation if you’ve been estranged from your church or a group of believers, but I don’t think it’s meant to do that. If nothing else, it’s a great read to remember that we’re not alone, to remind us to examine ourselves, and to be reminded that God cares for the broken-hearted.