A few months ago, I read a devotional entry about suffering and it didn't sit well with me because the author said that God's purpose in suffering was to increase our capacity for joy. Though God does work in all things for our good, Rom 8:28, I don't believe that we in our finite understanding can say that suffering is to intended to increase our capacity for joy. After reading that book, I continued to puzzle about suffering and it's place in my life and in the world around me.
Someone suggested another book on suffering to me titled Be Still, My Soul, 25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain, edited by Nancy Guthrie. I finished reading it this morning. It has taken me over a month mentally and emotionally to sift through the essays in this book. I read several things that will likely stick with me for my lifetime. The essays are mixture of contemporary and classic readings just as the title said. I counted how many of the essays that I enjoyed and felt deeply fed by and the number was 16. Of the nine that I did not resonate with, most of them were by Puritan preachers. I have discovered in reading these essays that I do not particularly enjoy reading essays from that time period. They are well written and explained, but they speak from a very thinker oriented perspective, rather than that of a feeler--which I am. Philip Yancey, Tim Keller, and Corrie Ten Boom's excerpts, though, deeply connected to my heart. And though I did not enjoy nine of the essays, they were wise and thought provoking.
If you have puzzled about the place and purpose of suffering in our lives, I highly recommend this book. It has brought me through a time of struggling with God and crying to him as to why there is suffering in my life. There is a verse from one of the essays examining Habakkuk which I am committing to memory, "The just shall live by faith." Hab. 2:4 From the beginning, Ms. Guthrie's book dedication struck me. The book is dedicated to Joni Earekson Tada in which I think she says something very wise about Joni, "We listen because she lives where only our deepest fears take us. And we listen because the way she articulates how she has made sense of her suffering helps us to make sense of ours." That is the purpose of this book--to help us see from many perspectives purpose in our suffering. I hope it will encourage you as it has me.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Crossway Books.