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Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering Audio CD – Audiobook, 28 Feb 2010

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About the Author

Nancy Guthrie has authored six books, including 'Holding on to Hope' and 'Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow'. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 21 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Collection of Readings on Suffering 20 April 2010
By Rebecca Stark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you've lived long enough, you know that very few, if any, escape suffering somewhere along the line. When those trials come, we need a rock solid ground beneath us. This secure stability in difficulty is what Nancy Guthrie hopes to guide us to in Be Still, My Soul. She writes:

"The scriptural truths elucidated in this book by respected classic and contemporary theologians and Bible teachers are the truths that have been the solid foundation under my feet in the storms of suffering and sorrow in my life."

Like two others of Nancy Guthrie's books, this is a collection of readings by various authors on a single topic. In this book the subject is God's perspective, purpose, and provision in suffering. Nancy Guthrie, who lost two of her children as infants and who has written books on the subject of God and suffering is uniquely equipped to compile selections that will give the reader courage, hope, and peace in suffering.

The twenty five chapters in Be Still, My Soul are written by twenty-five authors from very different backgrounds, circumstances, and times: A. W. Tozer; Os Guiness, D. A. Carson; Augustine; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Newton, to list some. The book is divided in three sections: nine pieces on God's perspective on suffering (how suffering fits in the big picture); eight on God's purpose in suffering (how suffering is used by God for specific purposes); and eight on God's provision in suffering (how God cares for us in difficulties).

As you might expect, there were some readings I liked more than others. There were also a few places where I either questioned the way certain points were made or questioned the points themselves. But that's okay. I rarely agree with everything written in a book, and when one features twenty-five different authors from various theological traditions, I expect to disagree in at least a few places.

I've already posted two short excerpts from this book--one by R. C. Sproul and one from D. A. Carson. Let me give one more taste of what you'll find in Be Still, My Soul. Here is Joni Eareckson Tada from God's Plan A, where she argues that the accident that permanently and totally paralyzed was God's "good and loving Plan A" for her life, and used by him to make her more like Christ:

"When suffering sandblasts us to the core, the true stuff of which we are made is revealed. Suffering lobs a hand-grenade into our self-centeredness, blasting our soul bare, so we can be better bonded to the Savior. Our afflictions help to make us holy. And we are never more like Christ, never more filled with his joy, peace, and power, than when sin is uprooted from our lives."

That the chapters are short--four to eight pages or so--and centered on one point is a big bonus. It's a format that's appropriate for people who are right now in the midst of difficult circumstances, who may not have the time or focus to work through a book with longer chapters that build on each other. This doesn't mean, however, that all the pieces are easy to read. A few, particularly those written by historical Christians, use language that requires concentration and maybe a little work. (Will you think less of me if I admit that that I'm still not sure I understood the piece written by Bonhoeffer?) Don't let this discourage you from reading; the more difficult chapters are worth the effort they take.

Nancy Guthrie is an editor who chooses well, making this an excellent collection of reading on suffering. If you are feeling the need for a little solid ground in the midst life's storms, Be Still, My Soul is an excellent to start.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Encouraging Collection of Reflections on Suffering 20 Aug. 2010
By Ched Spellman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Suffering is often as difficult to understand as it is to endure. The burden of sorrow and the weight of suffering are interwoven elements of our reality. Thus, grappling with the gravity of pain in a sin-riddled world is not an optional task.

Recognizing the urgency of this reality, in this volume Nancy Guthrie has collected twenty-five readings on the problem of pain. Writing out of her own experiences, Guthrie confesses that suffering "pushes us deeper into the mystery of God. It makes us more desperate for him, to hear from him and sense his presence" (10). Her preface is indicative of the type of thoughtful reflection found in the selections throughout the volume.

She highlights what I think is one of the strengths of the collection by holding out a supernatural hope without diminishing the horror of human pain. She writes, "I am not holding on to hope in terms of a positive perspective about the future or an innate sense of optimism, but rather holding on to the living person of Jesus Christ." This type of resolve involves "grabbing hold of the promises of God, his purposes, and his provision, and refusing to let go."

Accordingly, her goal for this compilation of readings is that they would "shape your thinking, steel your resolve, and still your soul" (11). There are three distinct features of the volume that serve this end.

First, the structure of the book provides a helpful framework by which a believer might understand his or her adversity. The chapters are divided into three main parts: God's perspective on suffering, God's purpose in suffering, and God's provision in suffering. The chapters under each of these headings function as variations on these themes. This rubric can enable a suffering believer to trust in God while not fully understanding every aspect of seemingly meaningless hardship. Meditating on these three themes could serve as a lifeline for someone before, during, and after those types of situations that seem to shake even the strongest theological foundations.

Second, each chapter begins with a biblical text that relates to suffering. Some contributors reflect directly on that passage, and others use the verse as a complement to a broader theme. These passages provide readers with some of the most appropriate places in the Bible for understanding suffering. This feature will be particularly helpful for a reader using the book in a daily-devotional format.

Third, the content of the chapters themselves is consistent and encouraging. To highlight a sampling of the essays, Tim Keller shows how suffering can be "the servant of our joy." Joni Eareckson Tada views her hardship as "God's plan A." Dietrich Bonhoeffer reflects on what it means to "bear" suffering. Missionary Helen Roseveare talks about "when cost becomes privilege." D. A. Carson encourages believers to think about how to "die well." John Piper speaks of the power that comes in weakness, and Jonathan Edwards ends the volume with a word on the "refuge and rest" found only in Christ. While there is diversity among these contributors (e.g., classic/contemporary, pastors/scholars, men/women), Guthrie does a fine job of keying the selections and excerpts to the themes of the three sections. Most of the chapters also function well as stand-alone units.

An additional benefit of this volume is that readers will be exposed to a strong view of God's providence. This recognition of God's absolute authority over all things functions as an inner nerve that binds the various themes and perspectives of the contributors. Indeed, the reflections here are generated by the conviction that God is both good and sovereign. This conviction is necessary for one to speak of God's purpose as well as God's provision in suffering.

One feature I would like to have seen is more exact citations. The acknowledgements for the readings are located at the end of each chapter followed by a brief biographical note. These are helpful, especially for some of the less well-known figures. However, no page numbers are provided, so readers will have to do some digging if they want to pursue the thinking of the chapter in the original work. Also, it is unclear how much abridgement and modernization has occurred for some of the selections during the editorial process.

In these short readings, Guthrie has given believers an occasion for self-reflection. Here you will find no easy answers or superficial articulations of the questions. The contributors acknowledge the evil of suffering and maintain a proper tone of solemnity when addressing these issues. These chapters are best read slowly and alongside introspective reflection, not because of the difficulty of their content but the gravity of their subject.

I am grateful for this little book, because it kept reminding of a big God; A God who beckons in the midst of pain, "Be still, my child, and cling to your redeemer."
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Problem of Suffering 5 July 2010
By Reformed Renegade - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Suffering will always be with us. How we should handle suffering, even in the best of times for the most devoted follower of Christ, may not always be clear to us. In "Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering" we have a memorable collection of essays from theologians, past and present, sharing their experience and pastoral advice.

The authors in this valuable compilation range from John Newton to Corrie Ten Boom, from Augustine to D.A. Carson, each, in his or her own way, sharing an encouraging and comforting message. Editor Nancy Guthrie has done a brilliant job selecting each essay for the book. Reflecting on pain and suffering is something we spend far too little time on today. Suffering will affect your life someday and this work will enlighten as it informs its reader to God's merciful work in trials.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Absolute Must Read 3 Jun. 2012
By J. Cameron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm not even finished reading the book and I'm already recommending it to my friends and family. I have lost one child and now have a child neurologically injured from the same disease the first died from. This collection is SPOT ON. It is an ABSOLUTE MUST read for ANYONE wondering "Where is God" in suffering or when tragedy hits. GOD IS GOOD, no matter what. (Signed in under my husband's account but review is written by JEN Cameron.)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Be Still, My Soul 12 Mar. 2014
By Peter Butler Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose & Provision in Suffering: 25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain, edited by Nancy Guthrie is pretty much what one would expect – a good collection of Christian writing on suffering.
Guthrie divides her book into three sections: God’s perspective on suffering, God’s purpose in suffering, and God’s provision in suffering.

In the first section, citing two classic and seven contemporary writers, one finds a fairly unified theme of suffering being God’s plan. The writers look at sin, Jesus’ suffering, and how this is all according to what God intended.

In the second, with one classic and seven contemporary, one sees that God uses suffering to prove and mature us.

In the third, with four classic and four contemporary writers, one sees that suffering is attended by God’s provision in Him and according to His purposes.

There is much to commend this book, including the opportunity to read selections from Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Sproul, Edwards, Piper, Burroughs, etc. By and large, as I read it, the answers and meditations on the subject are biblical, and they may well help the Christian to understand something of suffering and be able to endure it when it occurs.

The books and its selections are certainly aimed at Christians; this is not the book to give to non-Christians to help them with the problem – they have not received Christ, so all this talk of God’s purposes in Christ would unlikely be heard by them.

This book, while helpful to one who is suffering, might even be better as preparatory material for those who are not currently suffering or will suffer in the future – it is difficult to wrestle with these issues in the midst of suffering, but having read them, they may be brought to mind in the moment.

I am guessing the Scriptures that appear at the head of each reading were chosen by the editor. I do not remember any note as to whether they are specifically associated with the original work of placed with them by the editor.

The one piece that did not appeal to me was Philip Yancey’s. I was concerned in his minimizing the life of Christ as opposed to His death (27) and his saying that we must “prove” ourselves on earth to secure our destiny (29). I find these less than biblical concepts and, frankly, wish his piece was not in the book.

I also come to attention as I read each piece being “edited,” “adapted,” “excerpted,” etc. While I understand it would be practically impossible to include the full works in such a collection, and I am very grateful that each work has reference material to lead one to the full work, I am always concerned when someone chops pieces out of another’s work – is that really what the author intended? Is there anything more to the argument? Etc.

That being said, I find this an excellent introductory collection on suffering for Christians. I would hope it would be used and then would be an encouragement for those who read it to follow up by reading the full works that these pieces come from.
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