Tuesday, April 22, 2014

the sweet side of suffering?

In February I was offered this little book: the sweet side of suffering: Recognizing God's Best When Facing Life's Worst. The title grabbed me—it was exactly the book I thought needed to be written. Each chapter drew me deeper into the pain of this year, helping me to stare into the darkness and see the gift.

The book is not a pep talk. It's not sugar-coated or superficial. Esther Lovejoy speaks out of the deep pain and loss she has experienced, inviting readers to trust God fully in the midst of suffering. Reading Esther's book was like sharing a cup of tea with a kindred spirit, someone striving to worship God when life is really tough. Much of what she writes expresses what I've experienced and have blogged about. God has met her in her dark valley the way He has met me in mine.

Esther's love for Jesus is contagious. She gently explores the sweetness of His voice, the sweetness of knowing God, the sweetness of His care, the sweetness of surrender, the sweetness of shared suffering, the sweetness of His comfort, the sweetness of His names, the sweetness of His grace, the sweetness of His correction, and the sweetness of hope. Here's an excerpt from her chapter on correction:

"No, suffering is not sweet; it's not even pleasant. The refining fire is still fire. But when we know that it's our loving Father's hand that holds us there, we can know that it will not be wasted. He is creating out of us a gold that will allow His face to be seen. We become what He planned for us to be before the beginning of time. It is one of suffering's sweetest rewards" (136).
May it be so!

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