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- Published on Amazon.com
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.