Finding God in the Ruins: A book review and giveaway

FGitR“Sometimes it feels as if God has invited Himself into my pain, when I had hoped to be invited into His healing. We want a God who heals our wounds, but it seems we have a God who heals our hearts.”
~ Matt Bays

When I first signed up to be part of the blog tour for Matt Bays’ book Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain, I was excited to be a part of promoting the book of an author I already loved. Two things have happened since then: I read the book and loved it even more, and, even before the official launch and blog tour could begin the book took off like wildfire, word of mouth, Matt’s message of hope in despair spreading from heart to heart, from friends to friends of friends, each person who read or even heard about it telling others: Get this book, now.

So now my time has finally come to tell you about Matt’s book, and, well, you might already know about it. It is a bestseller on Amazon, in several categories. Ann Voskamp wrote about it. (Read a excerpt from Finding God in the Ruins on New York Times bestselling author Ann Voskamp’s website: Laura Parrot Perry wrote about it. If you search Finding God in the Ruins on Facebook or Twitter you will see post after post by people who have found this book and found hope and redemption in it.

But on the off chance that you have not heard of it, I’m honored to have the chance to share it with you. And I have a copy to give away! Keep reading for details.

Matt Bays grew up in a hell that he didn’t fully understand. His stepfather was abusive and his older brother learned to replicate that abuse. Matt grew up, got married, and went into ministry, and tried to push away those memories and keep them buried in his past. When he finally realized he couldn’t live like that anymore, and started seeing a counselor to try to articulate his pain, he began to uncover truths not only about his own life but about how broken the church can be in providing support for those who are speaking up about their struggles and their doubts.

For years I had longed for the church to be a safe place where I could reexamine my faith with fear and trembling and anger. I needed it to be a place where I could ask the tough questions — where I could expose God’s short sale on my life, on Robert’s life, on Keegan’s life, on yours. But the church wasn’t the place I’d hoped it would be.

I’m guessing my church would have given me six months to work things out rather than the six years it would take…

Matt writes honestly about getting angry with God, walking away from God, even giving God the middle finger. As he faces the memories and pain of his childhood, and the present pain of his sister’s cancer, he rages at God for not providing healing. But it is through that rage, through that honest baring his heart, that he discovers God’s presence with him in the wreckage. As the title of the book suggests, Matt finds that God doesn’t remake his life into something different. Instead, God sits with him in the ruins. Just like Frederick Buechner wrote about Job, “God is not an answer man can give, God says. God himself does not give answers. He gives himself, and into the midst of the whirlwind of his absence gives himself.”

But Matt does not stop with his own story and his own encounter with God’s absence and presence. Matt wants to free us, too, to tell our stories, to be unafraid and to trust that their is enough grace for us, whether it takes us six months to work things out or six years, or more. “Healing has no map;” Matt says:

every person’s experience is different. But if your journey is going to be successful, expect at some point to end up back at the scene of the crime, staring at the wreckage. People will tell you to move on, and they are partly right. But if you have tried and can’t seem to, you must go back and see what happened with new eyes. And then you must try to tell your story without trying to make it palatable — for anyone. You have to tell the truth — the whole truth — expecting the painful passages to come when you do. If it gets to be too much, take a break. Dog-ear the page and return to it when you’re good and ready, but plan to finish the book because there’s a beautiful ending to it.

Matt Bays meme 1

Matt writes with the eloquence of a poet, and with the heart of a pastor. He offers us his story, and whether we relate to the specific details or not, Finding God in the Ruins makes us feel less alone.


I have a copy to give away! Just leave a comment here or on my Facebook page and I will pick one commenter at random to receive Matt’s book. *Update 3/23: soundtek won!*

On Matt’s website you can find a free sample chapter, a trailer/music video, and links to places to order the book.

You can find quotes and links from the other bloggers in the tour here.


I received a free advance copy of the book in return for my honest review.


24 comments on “Finding God in the Ruins: A book review and giveaway

  1. Debbie Meservey says:

    I would love to read this book, Jessica.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cherie says:

    Thank you this was was very helpful for the pressure I’ve been putting on myself trying to write my own story! It is an honest account of the painful experiences I’m going through having to revisit what I thought I had put behind me! Rediscovering my faith with new growth…painful growth at times…while hanging on to Him with all my might, often times falling back into depression and I can’t do this mode! Your blog alone is such inspiration and I’ve enjoyed reading them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. soundtek says:

    I would love to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bufflogal says:

    It’s something we all face. I’ve been married for over 40 years to a man who has never come to terms with his wreckage–always believing he is stronger for it and he’s not “that kind of man.” It has robbed us of much happiness over the years. It takes courage to admit things… even to ourselves. My husband has studied in seminary and “tried God out” with no success (in his estimation). This might be a book for him!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Aline says:

    I am in a 12 step program and Matt’s book sounds like a perfect complement to my recovery. Thanks for the chance to win it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. moniquehudson says:

    This is a great review of Matts book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mattbays says:

    I’m going to be completely honest for a moment. Candid about what just happened.

    I paused half way through reading this review. I began to feel overwhelmed for a moment, so I sat back in my chair, took a deep breath, and then let it out. And then everything; the pain, the abuse, the fear, that little boy…and then the request to boldly approach God, to accuse him, to plead with him…and finally be called by him…to write…to bleed on the page…everything, all of it, rushed straight through me. A hundred memories in ten seconds. Tears were running down my face…and then as loud as I’ve heard God’s voice in a decade, I heard him saying…

    “Well done, son…WELL DONE. Well done GOOD and FAITHFUL one…SO well done.”

    It nearly took my breath away while sitting at the counter of my kitchen bar, and I began to REALLY cry (believe or not, I don’t do this often). And then I began singing these words over and over, right back at him…

    “You’re a good, good father…it’s who you are…it’s who you are…it’s who you are. And I’m loved by you…it’s who I am…it’s who I am…it’s who I am.”

    Jessica, thank you for being a part of this moment. I’m still wiping tears from my eyes. Something deep within me shifted while reading this review…just enough to remind me that I actually DO have a father. He was there…IS there…will BE there. I am not alone. Not ever.

    I can only think of you as a sister now. Amazing, isn’t it? That now we are family?

    Thank you. Just…thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Juanita says:

    I’m such a big fan of your blog (as you know) and would love to have a free copy, but I think regardless I’m going to get this book healing is a prominent issue (?) In my life right now. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. suzysims1980 says:

    I have not been able to revisit a couple of places even now at 54. Maybe that should be on my list for the year above ‘go somewhere new’.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. punkinmama1 says:

    I’d love to read this & can think of many others who would benefit as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. judithkunst says:

    I would love to read this book too! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mimivinny says:

    So perfectly honest and pure. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. DJ says:

    I’m in the midst of slogging through my own story of pain and abuse by the hands of my father. Sometimes I just have to sit right down on the path because the ache is too much and I can’t move. I sit and wait and think about Jesus sitting beside me because He knows sorrow too.
    Heard about this book from Ann Voskamp and then my old youth pastor linked to it on FB. He must know Matt. Would love to read the book ….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry for your pain, DJ. You’re right, I truly believe it — Jesus is sitting on the path with you, for however long you need to sit there. ❤


      • DJ says:

        Thank You, Thank You for just saying “I Hear You”. It’s hard being in the “stuck” place where you can’t move or you just don’t know which way to go next.


    • mattbays says:

      Hang in, DJ. Keep moving forward. There is hope, love and PEACE out there. If you keep moving forward, I absolutely believe it will come to you. So much love for you tonight, my friend.


      • DJ says:

        Matt, I’m hanging. Sometimes I am sure I’m going to fall but if I do, I Know the One who will catch me and keep me Safe.


  14. Bonnie Brown says:

    My friend shared this with me. I have always been brutally honest with God, much like the author, to the point that most people cringe when I tell them HOW brutal I can be with Him. I don’t think it dethrones Him in the least.
    I live with chronic pain that never wants to end. I have been angry, bitter, and unforgiving of God, as well as overwhelmed, grateful, and enthralled with His presence. 33-years I’ve been doing this. So much to learn.
    I would welcome this book into my arms, heart, and library.
    God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Barbara Lawrence says:

    I am 81 years old and live every day in pain for a decision I made more than 50 years ago…this sounds like a book that maybe could have some answers to my broken heart and understand God’s reason to allow me into His kingdom some day

    Liked by 1 person

  16. […] HERE’S THE BLOG that shifted my heart in a transformational way. Check out her blog at: Ten Thousand Places. […]


  17. Laura says:

    I have my own demons lurking in the shadows. I would appreciate the chance to read this book. I am new to Matt’s Blog – found it thru Ann Voskamps.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Angela says:

    I have this book on my list of books to buy next. I’ve been hearing great things about it, and your review has made me want to read it even more.

    Liked by 1 person

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