I recently finished reading this book by Dave Earley and I really liked it. I wanted to review the book, so, I took notes while I read. Now I have about 12 pages of notes...and if you are going to read 12 pages of notes, you might as well read the whole book! It's not a very big read, but lots of good points are made in it. So, instead of giving you ALL my notes, I thought I would just give you some quotes that stood out to me the most.
The author begins the book with several important truths. For example, God is under no obligation to give us an explanation for suffering and God can do more than one good thing through the bad things that happen to us. He lists others and then begins with reason number one "The Reason No One Wants to Hear". Basically, God created a good, pure world and people choose evil. Bad things happen. Period. We live in a broken world. This, to me is a comfort and not a comfort at all. On one hand this could mean that bad things just happen with no reason and I was not being punished for some unknown sin. On the other hand, its a little worrysome to think bad things, extrememly bad things can happen to any one and any time, but they can.
" You are not alone on the road of suffering. Although often very lonely, it is heavily traveled and have been since the earliest days of history." It does bring some comfort knowing others know and have known the pain you are going through AND that they survived or even better turned it to glory for God!
An interesting fact I learned in this book that I had never really paid any attention to before is that after Chapter 2 in the book of Job, Satan is never mentioned. He started this whole thing and he is the one who brought such suffering to such a Godly man, but after Job refused to "curse God and die" (as his wife urged him to do) Satan shut-up and is not mentioned for the other 40 chapters of Job. Job then got double of everything he lost back (except his children...all ten of his children died when Satan attacked and he had ten more when blessings started abounding...the reason was explained later in the book).
Reason number 3 might be To Expand Our Perspective of God. In the book of Job, there are 38 chapters of Job petitioning God for an answer for all his pain and tragedy and 38 chapters of silence from God. Early points out that "More significantly than recieving an explanation of our pain is embracing a bigger view of God through our pain". He also quotes A.W. Tozer saying, "The [one] who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot concern him for very long." This meaning when we see what matters (God) things that we thought mattered (having the nicest house and car or going through a trivial issue) simply don't anymore. (Please note I am not saying the loss of a child is a trivial issue. I'm looking at this book from a perspective of life in general and thinking of some of the "bad things" that anyone might face. Not just the loss of a child.)
"It is only through setbacks, suffering, and sorrows that we really understand who we are, who we aren't and even more important, who He is."
"God is magnetically drawn to the brokenhearted."
Reason number 6 in the book was To Prepare Us for Greater Blessing. For Job it was literal and physical. After his loss and agony, Job then gained back twice the number of livestock, money, and went on to have 10 more children. For us, the gain we have in Heaven will be much more than we can imagine. For me and Ben, we look at it like this...if our babies lives have touched anyone eternally (meaning they accept Christ into their hearts) then our babies have blessed them (and their children...and whomever they witness to and bring to Heaven with them) their lives have not been meaningless. We may not see these blessings on Earth, but in Heaven. Also, the author explains why Job would have gained 2x the amount of everything except the children. His answer touched me. The loss of Job's 10 children was only temporary. He saw them again in Heaven. And even if he had then had 20 children...they would not have simply replaced the ten that died. He had ten children before disaster struck, they went to Heaven, then when abundance blessed Job's life, he had ten more children. One day, all of them will be together in Heaven and he will have all 20 of his children together!
"Without the process of pain, we are unprepared for prosperity."
"When we experience the immenent threat of great pain and total loss, we always face a choice: We can run to God and trust Him or we can turn from Him and run away."
Reason number 9 in the book is To Increase the Testimony of God. Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions and not harmed because God was with him. Many people saw and believed because of Daniel's trial.
This is probably my favorite part. About the pearl. The author quotes Chuck Swindoll in telling how a pearl is formed:
For an unknown reason, the shell of the oyster gets cracked and an alien substance - a grain of sand - slips inside. On the entry of that foriegn irritant, all the resources within the tiny, sensative oyster rush to the spot and begin to release healing fluids that otherwise would have remained dormant. By and by the irritant is covered and the wound is healed - by a pearl.
Had there been no pain, there would have been no pearl.
This next two quotes reminds me of all these beautiful ladies I have met online and our relationship.
"Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give you some advice."
The author quotes a mother who lost their child to SIDS as saying, "It's as though people who have lost someone precious speak a different language. I don't have to explain things. There is a clear understanding that is so comforting."
"In pain, we learn to live God's word."
"The best style of prayer is that which cannot be called anything but a cry."
The author quotes Virginia Womach, a woman whose husband was severly burned and deformed by fire in a plane crash as saying:
"Although it sounds strange, I feel it is an honor that God chose us. God had a purpose in all our suffering, and I believe it is to share the strength we have gained from it with others who have suffered or who will suffer tragedy in their lives."
Her husband is quoted as saying, "God has tested us through the fire. And out of the suffering He was making something beautiful in our lives."
This book was hard to read at times. To say that bad things happen for this reason or that. But, remember, this is just some reasons a bad thing might have happened, not that they are the reason that it did happen. Also, if you chose to read this book, it is good to remember that bad things happen because we live in an imperfect world. Since sin first entered this world, bad things happen.
I really liked this book. It opened my eyes to unseen things and encouraged me to press forward in reaching out to others. I hope you like it too!