God Among the Ruins

Trust and transformation in difficult times

Mags Duggan

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The wonder of this book is its searing honesty. Through the lens of her own life-changing loss and learning from Habbakuk's journey through profound pain, Mags helps us see how we might come to trust the goodness of God amidst heart-rending devastation and chaos. This is gentle, biblically-rooted, and carefully crafted wisdom that faces difficult questions and emotions of suffering head on yet persists in seeking God amongst it all. This is wisdom that has been lived. I trust that many might discover this book.
Tracy Cotterell, London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

Content

Where do we turn when our world is falling apart?

It takes courage to hope; to stand in our confusion and grief and still to believe that 'God is not helpless among the ruins'. Guided by Habakkuk and his prophetic landmarks, we are drawn on a reflective journey through the tangled landscape of bewildered faith, through places of wrestling and waiting, and on into the growth space of deepened trust and transformation. As you read, discover for yourself the value and practice of honest prayer, of surrender, of silence and listening, and of irrepressible hoping.

Contents

  • Introduction
  • It's a long and winding road
  • Wounded ragings
  • It wasn't meant to be like this
  • Don't just do something, sit there!
  • Of plastic bottles, empty tin cans and trust
  • From the back door to the barn door - and beyond
  • What's in a name?
  • Walking with the wounded

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Endorsements

The wonder of this book is its searing honesty. Through the lens of her own life-changing loss and learning from Habbakuk's journey through profound pain, Mags helps us see how we might come to trust the goodness of God amidst heart-rending devastation and chaos. This is gentle, biblically-rooted, and carefully crafted wisdom that faces difficult questions and emotions of suffering head on yet persists in seeking God amongst it all. This is wisdom that has been lived. I trust that many might discover this book.
Tracy Cotterell, London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

On 9/11 when I saw the Twin Towers in New York, one after the other, pancake to the ground in a deafening explosion of devastation and heart-wrenching tragedy, it was hard to imagine God among those ruins. When I walked beside a couple whose only child had died at 10 months on Thanksgiving Day, they found it hard to imagine a God among their ruins. When my own hopes and dreams collapsed after trying everything imaginable to keep them alive, I too struggled with finding God in the ruins. In this beautifully written book and with a careful study of Habakkuk, Duggan unfolds the story of her own journey through haunting loss to the transforming comfort of God. So if you have struggled with believing in a loving God when your own world collapses, this book will serve you well. It certainly guided and helped me. Dr.
MaryKate Morse, professor, author and spiritual director

If only I had had this book when I looked for help with my own experience of deep and all-pervading disappointment with God in 1983 and could find nothing written on the subject! An interaction with the words of the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk based on Mags's own devastation, it is totally authentic in declaring the pain each of them went through and the ways in which they related to God in and through it. It is totally practical as well in offering guidance through activities that help one to recognise one's own difficulties and bring them before God. And, through it all, no matter how horrible the circumstances and the experience, Emmanuel, the God who is with us. It is wonderful to have such a resource available to those who are going through pain and anger with God.
Dr Colin Bulley, Pioneers UK, Member Care Consultant, Spiritual Director

I was eagerly anticipating the release of 'God Among The Ruins', having sat under Mags Duggan's teaching on a number of occasions, and I was not disappointed. Although the book was birthed in the author's own journey of suffering, that does not become the main focus. Each chapter gently and compassionately brings the reader to God Himself through the faith journey of Habakkuk. Mags has not avoided the problems that suffering brings, nor has she offered trite answers where there are none. Rather she helps us learn to walk with the questions as we move towards God. The practical reflections suggested at the end of each chapter are so helpful for readers wanting to apply the truths they are encountering. So helpful. So good.
Valerie Murphy, Coordinator of Women's Bible Teaching Ministry, Crescent Church Belfast, Retreat Leader, Bible Teacher

Incisively yet simply written, there are lessons for us all, not just those who have suffered grief or earthquake.
Revd Canon Dr Steve Davie, Principal of the Bradford Hub of the Leeds School of Ministry

Author info

Mags Duggan has worked with the Navigators for 35 years, many of these as a cross-cultural missionary in East Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. More recently, she was on the faculty of Redcliffe College, Gloucester, where she lectured in two areas she is passionate about: Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. Currently, she is engaged in providing spiritual nurture and pastoral care to a diverse group of cross-cultural missionaries and ministry leaders, both here in the UK and around the world.

Reviews

The Baptist Times, August 2018. 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

Review by Mike Treneer, International President Emeritus, The Navigators (8 March 2018)

There are many reasons to commend Mags Duggan's beautifully written book 'God Among The Ruins'! I will mention just three:

  • This meditation on the Old Testament book of Habakkuk in the light of Mags' own experience of grief for her niece, powerfully brings Bible and life together in ways that help us to understand both.
  • Mags combines profound insights into some of life's most challenging questions with simple practical suggestions for growing in our relationship with God through them.
  • While Mags opens up her own process of grief, she helpfully illustrates and guides us in how we too can 'comfort others with the comfort we too have received from God.

Mike Treneer, International President Emeritus, The Navigators.

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857465757
  • Published: 16 February 2018
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144
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