Category Archives: Suffering

Fiction Friday! Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for Ashes (The Isaiah Cadre) by Alyce-Kay Ruckelshaus

How do you maintain your faith in times of unexpected trouble or trauma? Especially when it hits you out of nowhere. And what if the trauma has long-lasting effects—perhaps for the rest of your life? Would you still be able to trust God?

Beauty For Ashes: Isaiah Cadre, Book 1 (Isaiah Cadre Series) is the first of a series by my friend, Alyce-Kay Ruckelshaus. It chronicles the story of Kelly, a student at Westmont College in Santa Barbara in 1981. She is an MK (missionary kid) and in love with Matt, a PK (preacher’s kid). She is also part of the Isaiah Cadre, a group of dorm mates who have committed themselves to God and one another.

The book starts off a little slowly, but sets the stage well for an idyllic college experience, deep friendships, and young romance. It gives context that will be important later. And then the unthinkable happens and in a moment, Kelly’s world is shattered. Her faith is tested. Her love is tested. Even her friendships are tested.

The book offers a realistic portrayal of the way many people handle sudden trauma. It especially demonstrates how trauma affects a normally logical person, and how shame can distort one’s thinking.

I highly recommend this book. I loved it even though it’s not  my demographic. It’s well written, fast moving, and thoughtful. The author offers discussion questions for personal use or better yet, for a book group. Or even for a cadre. And best of all, it’s free on Kindle!

 

When There Are No Easy Answers

When There Are No Easy Answers by John S. Feinberg

When There Are No Easy Answers: Thinking Differently About God, Suffering, and Evil by John S. Feinberg

We’ve all heard the stories. Some of us live them. How do you reconcile the worst types of suffering in life with the notion of a good God?

John S. Feinberg is one who is living “the worst” of suffering. His wife, Pat, has suffered from Huntington’s Disease, an incurable, debilitating, genetic disorder, for over 25 years. For many years, she has been unable to walk, talk, or respond. In addition, his children are at risk because the disease is genetically transmitted. Pat’s mother probably suffered from Huntington’s and the information was in her medical record, but was not made available to them until years after her diagnosis. So Feinberg, a seminary professor, was hit with not one, but several, tragedies–each one raising theological and emotional questions.

In When There Are No Easy Answers: Thinking Differently About God, Suffering and Evil (Kregel Publications), Feinberg uses his theological training and life experience to grapple with the many questions that suffering raises. The result is a raw attempt to make sense of the nonsensical. He tackles the character of God and the stupidity of friends. He offers theological assessments and practical tips.

I was especially drawn to this book because my husband has Parkinson’s Disease, and while he is still quite functional, I know from friends in my support group what most likely lies ahead. I strongly recommend this book for anyone struggling with theodicy – the question why a good God permits the manifestation of evil, for anyone facing personal or health issues they don’t understand. It isn’t an easy book to read, although it is quite readable. It will make you think, pray, and discuss. It will help you become a woman of splendor. And hopefully, will give you answers to make the journey a little more tolerable.

 

Thriving in Babylon

thriving in babylon

Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture

Have you been discouraged as you see our culture deteriorating? Have you faced fear as ISIS spreads and homegrown terrorists spread panic across the world? Have you lamented the loss of freedoms caused by court decisions, increasing regulation, and political correctness?

Meet a man forced to live in a fast changing and godless society. He faced fears about the future, concern for his safety, and the discouragement of world that seemed to be falling apart at warp speed.

Sound familiar? His name was Daniel, and with the power of hope, humility, and wisdom, he not only thrived, he changed an empire while he was at it. Though he lived thousands of years ago, he has a much to teach us today. But his key message is this:

Even in Babylon, God is in control.

In Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture, Larry Osborne explores the “adult” story of Daniel to help us not only survive – but actually thrive in an increasingly godless culture. Here Pastor Osborne looks at:

-Why panic and despair are never from God

-What true optimism looks like

-How humility disarms even our greatest of enemies

-Why respect causes even those who will have nothing to do with God to listen

-How wisdom can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat

For those of us who know Jesus and his promises, and understand the full implications of the cross, the resurrection, everything changes—not only in us, but also in our world.

This is an easy read, but filled with thought-provoking challenges. Is my faith really all I think it is?

Give Away!

And here’s the good news! David C. Cook has provided me with an extra book to give away to one fortunate reader. Leave a comment below telling us what concerns you most about our world today -or- how you are finding ways to thrive in your Babylon. I’ll randomly select one of you to receive the book on August 7.

The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard

Kara Tippetts knows about hard. A pastor’s wife and mother of four, she has faced a church split, heart problems, a wild fire that threatened their home, stage four breast cancer, a radical hysterectomy due to tumors in her uterus and ovaries, and brain cancer. She has endured endless tests, surgeries, chemo, and radiation. And yet, she writes graciously and poetically of God’s grace in the midst of life’s hard. With remarkable vulnerability, she shares how her illness has affected her life and the lives of those she loves. She shares about her marriage, her childrearing, and her fears. She even shares how she encouraged her husband to remarry when she is no more.

The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life's Hard by Kara Tippetts

The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard by Kara Tippetts

Tippet says that brokenness is not to be feared, but rather to be received humbly. She affirms unwavering faith in the midst of crushing blow after crushing blow. For her, faith is faith in the moment, for we cannot count on more than this moment. She says, “hard is often the vehicle Jesus uses to meet us, point us to that peace, and reach us grace.”

Tippet’s style is gentle, poetic, and shows a depth cultivated through suffering. My only criticism of the book is the lack of any discussion of prayer for healing. She writes of the many people praying for her and her family, but the sense is that these are prayers for coping, not for healing. It grieves me when I see Christians whose default is acceptance of suffering as from the hand of God. Yes, sometimes God allows suffering, but is it a gift? Is it from him? Or does he call us to pray and believe for healing? I understand that he doesn’t always heal, but if we are to be New Testament believers, how can we deny that Jesus always healed everyone who asked, and healing was the norm in the early church. I fear that we have abdicated that essential tenant of our faith in deference to the flawed theology of Dispensationalism and cessationism. I would have appreciated the book more had she shared of individual and corporate prayers for her healing before resigning herself and her family to living in the hard.

That criticism notwithstanding, this is a gentle book of grace for those who are facing the hard in their lives. The publisher has graciously provided a book for me to give to a reader. So if you or someone you know is facing the hard of life and you would like to read “The Hardest Peace,” leave a comment below. I’ll randomly draw one person’s name and send you a copy of the book.

If you are a blogger, LitFuse offers you an the opportunity to win a complete #HardestPeace Prize Pack, including:

  • A book club pack (10 copies of The Hardest Peacefor you and your small group!)
  • A handcrafted candle
  • Journal
  • Custom Etsy The Hardest Peace print and coffee mug

To enter to win the #HardestPeace Prize Pack, simply blog about your #HardestPeace story and then submit the link to your post via the link-up. Plus stop by others’ stories to leave encouragement and offer prayers as we all travel the journey of life together and discover that the hardest peace is often the most fulfilling peace.