To suffer well, you will need Jesus (p17)
When I read that opening line a few weeks ago, as I was handed a copy of "Hope when it Hurts" to review for The Good Book Company, I nodded along as most of us do. I have had significant trials in my life, though I realise not as significant as many, and that line, written in bold above, was a truth I knew to be real.
But to be brutally honest, it wasn't particularly personally significant to me at that point. Life was going well, our children were for the most part, in less tricky stages of childhood, our marriage was in a good place, almost a years worth of disruption and building work was coming to an end, and I was settling comfortably into the second trimester of pregnancy with our fourth baby.
The future looked bright.
Little did I know that God was about to take our little family on a detour that would turn this book from a happy little nod-along, to a hungered for gem of truth.
Because right now, the story is somewhat different. Confined to hospital for the next four weeks, while doctors monitor the baby and myself twice daily, separated from my husband and children and living out long, lonely days in the confines of four hospital walls, that truth above seems a lot more relevant. We are at 33 weeks, hopeful to get another four under our belt, but the reality is, that baby could come somewhat sooner.
While I have been fairly open about our worries about a premature birth, there have been worries through this pregnancy that I felt only right to share with our nearest and dearest... More recent events have let me feel able to share more. The possibility of Placenta Accreta, a more dangerous and risky side affect of Placenta Praevia threatened in the background of my mind. Possible removal to a more specialist hospital further away, the likelihood of a hysterectomy at 31, and all that that would signify, the threat of serious haemorrhage, a much more complex delivery plan... I tried not to let my brain go there, prayed for a miracle, sat and hoped and longed that the Lord might spare us this further trial... All the while knowing that in the past, when the trials have gotten deeper and deeper, he has been enough.
I clung to Jesus, knowing that opening line to be true.
To suffer well, you will need Jesus
Hope when it hurts.
From real and raw experience, I can testify that this is a book that should adorn the shelves, nightstands and bookcases of every Christian. Suffering is inevitable... However much the world shouts against it, we all know that deep down. I have yet to meet anybody, anywhere throughout history who has escaped any form of suffering.
For most of us, it is more familiar than we would wish.
And this gem of a book, written by two women still in the midst of persistent suffering, speaks truth straight to the heart; a book that breaks down what it looks like to suffer with Jesus; with his hope, with his promises, with his comfort, with his Spirit. It is easy to read, conversational and yet deeply theological, and the genuiness of their faith, scarred and battle-weary though it is, drips through every sentence with raw honesty.
It has truly been heaven-sent through this season of life.
A few of my favourite quotes...
We do not have to live our lives anxiously toiling and striving to control the circumstances around us. Trust Christ, and know that every aspect of our lives is purposefully designed to make us more like him and bring glory to his name. (P38)
Your trials are not expressions of God's anger, because all of it was poured out upon Jesus. (P44)
Circumstances that perplex us need not drive us to despair. Instead, they can take us to new depths of faith. They challenge us to trust solely on the promises of God. (P56)
The Lord won't waste a moment of the pain and suffering that often feels pointless and random to us (p59)
One of the most beautiful and Christ-glorifying pictures of faith is when a believer has no earthly evidence or confidence to fall back on except a wooden cross and an empty tomb, and yet trusts firmly in the loving sovereignty of Christ. Seemingly senseless and confusing circumstances give us opportunity to trust in and beautifully proclaim God's glory to a world searching for meaning in suffering. (P60)
Whatever storm you are facing... Cling to him! Cry out to him! Then wait, watch and anticipate. The greater the storm, the greater the opportunity for you to rely on Jesus, and the greater the joy and the awe you will experience when his glory and power are shown through it. (P75)
When life is falling apart, and wordly happiness has long since fled, Christian joy can shine forth clearly and uniquely (p89)
Gah! There really are too many to write out! Such great stuff, right?!
One of my favourite bits about the book, were the questions, the prayers and the journaling pages. An opportunity to respond to each chapter through the lense of your own situation. It has been so helpful to work through some of my fears and anxieties through the questions this book has posed, and the pointers back to Christ, time and time again have been invaluable.
On Friday, we received the wonderful news that it appears I do not have Placenta Accreta, and while I am not out of the woods (my Placenta Praevia is still very much an issue) and while I am still whiling away hours in hospital, the long-term, potentially life-changing risks to myself and the baby have been somewhat diminished. Praise God. Such relief. Such thankfulness. And yet always in the knowledge that had we had to walk down a further road, he would have been enough.
He always is.
For now, my struggles, my loneliness, my fears over the delivery and safety of this baby have been given a new perspective. God has shown so much mercy, in so many ways. And I know, again, that that fact is true...
To suffer well, you will need Jesus.
If you know anyone struggling, weary with suffering, finding it hard to align truths they know about God with the reality of their life circumstances, this book is gold-dust. And if you suspect that at some point in your life you may face something tough, then I honestly think there is no better way to prepare yourself...
Hope when it Hurts, by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton is available from The Good Book Company now at a discounted price of £9.99. It was provided free of charge for the purposes of this review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.