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Savannah Guthrie Shares Her Faith Journey: “God Doesn’t Cause Pain, He Carries Us Through It” (EXCLUSIVE)

'Woman's World' cover girl opens up about how she finds strength in God's love

As we can all relate, Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie’s life has been a roller coaster of high and lows. From the death of her beloved father when she was just 16 to her current bliss as a wife and mother of two with a thriving career — Guthrie openly shares how her relationship with God has buoyed her, even in the hardest times, in her new book Mostly What God Does: Reflections on Seeking and Finding His Love Everywhere.

Mostly What God Does book cover

In her inspiring new book, Guthrie chronicles her faith journey in an open and vulnerable manner that will appeal to both believers and nonbelievers — and that was her goal.

“It’s not meant to be proselytizing book. It’s not supposed to be a persuasive book to convince people to have one belief or another. It’s essays and reflections about the faith that I hold and what I’ve learned along the way,” she says. “It’s a Christian book — it comes from that perspective — but I hope that it’s universally appealing and that anyone could draw some observations that could bring them closer to relationship with God, which I think all of us deeply yearn for no matter what form that takes.”

Guthrie recently sat down for a thoughtful and wide-ranging interview for the new cover of Woman’s World (on sale now!) Here, we dive deeper into her faith and strength in this Q&A.

Woman’s World: What are you hoping that people take away from this book?

Savannah Guthrie: I think that so many people are faithful. So many people have some kind of relationship or belief in or connection to God and I think the busyness of our lives, the distractions of our lives and the disappointments in our lives sometimes creates a distance.

A relationship with God is just that. It’s a relationship. There are ups and downs and what I was trying to share and express is: “I know! Me too!” I found the more I looked into it and the more I engaged with — or connected in some cases reconnected with God — I was always blown away and astonished and delighted and relieved to find that God was there with open arms, with compassion and acting in ways that in some ways were really surprising to me and I felt so happy about that. I just wanted to tell everyone.

Savannah Guthrie attends the "Mostly What God Does" book presentation in New York City
Savannah Guthrie attends the Mostly What God Does book presentation in New York City promoting new bookJamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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WW: Had you always intended to write about faith?

Savannah Guthrie: I never thought I would write a book about faith. I certainly have no expertise. I just felt I had something good to say about God and I wanted everyone to get in on it. Even though it’s a Christian book and it comes from that perspective, I hope that it’s universally appealing and that anyone could draw observations that could bring them closer to a relationship with God in their spirits and their souls. 

That’s really why. I’m as surprised as anyone that I wrote a book about faith. It’s nice to think that hopefully I’m articulating something as a fellow traveler in faith. This isn’t a book from an expert. This is a book from a human trying to stay connected to God in a world that can be busy and distracting and sometimes disappointing and heartbreaking. How do we stay close to God and what does that mean? I think God yearns to engage with us and our questions no matter what. 

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb speak onstage during Savannah Guthrie in Conversation with Hoda Kotb: Reflections on Faith
Savannah (left) and Hoda Kotb (right) speaking during ‘Savannah Guthrie in Conversation with Hoda Kotb: Reflections on Faith’ event in New York City talking about new bookDia Dipasupil/Getty

WW: What was the most difficult part to write?

Savannah Guthrie: Writing those chapters in the book that were dealing with suffering and injustice were the hardest ones that I wrote. And spoiler alert: I don’t give an answer because there is no answer on this earth as to why suffering exists or why evil is allowed to exist. I thought to myself, ‘Now why am I taking this on? I’m completely not qualified,’ but I did think it was important to not just have a bunch of platitudes.

You cannot believe all this stuff that sounds so good and ignore the fact that so many people are dealing with either suffering in the world or suffering in their own lives. So, I hope that it at least raises those questions and gives us all something to think about as we process that and really ultimately invites us to process our grief, disappointment and our sadness in the presence of God with God.

MUST READ: Faith Leader Jennie Allen Opens Up About Untangling Tough Emotions: “God Can Heal All of Our Broken Parts”

WW: Do you find purpose in pain when you are on the other side of it?

Savannah Guthrie: I’m resisting finding purpose in pain because when I think of people who suffered great, great pain like the loss of a child, I think just saying you “found a purpose” can never make up for that. So I would never want to say anything that would suggest that it’s all for the best or it was all part of God’s plan. 

I really do resist that kind of thinking, but I do think that pain and setback and sadness is inevitable in this world, but it’s possible — especially with faith and in the presence and miraculous healing of God — to find that something positive can come from that pain, I do believe that. God doesn’t cause pain, but He’s quite good at transforming it. 

WW: Where do you find joy?

Savannah Guthrie:  My kids are my joy. I had kids when I was in my 40s. I’m so lucky to be a mom. I just love them so much and they give me so happiness and joy. I’m just so tickled and delighted by them and my husband. My husband is such a good man. He’s such a great family man and he’s so rock solid. That gives me a lot of joy as well.

Also, music and writing. I’m trying to rediscover a lot of those aspects of myself. I’ve worked really hard in my career, which gave me joy. I love to work, and I’ve worked since I was 14 years old. I’ve just always wanted to work, and I’m so grateful that I got to work in a job that actually exceeded my wildest dreams.

But I’m also grateful to be at a moment where my kids are getting a little older, my schedule is more predictable and I can start to cultivate some of these wonderful parts of life that give me joy — including trying to relearn the piano after approximately 30 years or so. I just started recently. I quit piano when I was 14. Big life mistake! So I’ve been buying some of the music I used to play, and it’s so fun.

Savannah Guthrie with husband and kids
“They are my joy,” she says, here with her husband and her children @savannahguthrie

WW: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever been through?

Savannah Guthrie: There’s been a lot of different ones. The first and most seminal heartbreak of my life was my father dying when I was 16 years old. It was a complete shock and just really shattered our family and changed me… I’m not glad that it happened. I wish I had my father. He missed everything.

I was a junior in high school. He saw a junior in high school, a slacker who stayed out late and didn’t want to go to class. He never got to see that I did anything with my life. So, that’s a great sorrow, but I’ve also seen that an experience like that at a young age creates empathy that I’m glad is a part of me now.

So, I think that’s probably the hardest thing I ever went through. Then later in life, there have been personal disappointments and work disappointments and trials, stressful moments, but I would say that that would be the seminal event of my life, my family’s life and still affects us to this day.

I wish my father was 80-something years old right now and bouncing my kids on his knee and getting a kick out of that. But he isn’t, and I trust God. I trust and believe that God has a plan that encompasses and takes account of time, space and knowledge that I just will never have. So I have to trust Him. This is where faith comes in. I’m giving God the benefit of the doubt that whatever has happened, He is working it out for good.

Savannah with her father
Savannah Guthrie with her father, talks about new book@savannahguthrie

WW: Where do you get your strength?

Savannah Guthrie: I don’t necessarily feel strong. In fact, I’m full of doubts and insecurities, but I believe in God, and I believe God holds me and that’s the source of my confidence. So, it’s not really confidence in myself. It’s confidence in God and I don’t mean that in a way to sound like I’m not giving myself credit.

I’m not trying to be falsely humble.  Honestly, my strength comes from having a foundation of trust and faith in God and it has carried me through many, many times when I don’t feel strong. I consider that a great relief!

For more of Savannah’s inspiring insights, pick up the newest issue of Woman’s World on newsstands now and available to buy on line here.

For more comforting stories about God’s plan, keep reading…

Grammy-nominated Musician With Missing Fingers Adopts Boy With Same Birth Defect: “It Was All God’s Plan!”

Author Sarah Bessey Talks Overcoming Loss and Doubt: “God Keeps His Promises”

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