It came as an anonymous gift. I’d heard people speak of this book by Lysa Terkeurst but always assumed it was a book written specifically for women. To be sure, the author is extremely popular among Christian women, and while the book might be written in a style that would appeal to that market, it has something to say to any of us.
The value of the book might be commensurate to your own level of current tragedy. As it turns out, I’m in some of the darker days of my own life and could relate to the author on so many levels. She shares her story, but her message is not pigeonholed to her exact circumstances. All it takes to find value in what she says is to be at a place where life seems completely turned upside down and the view forward is unclear.
Had I read this book, say, a year ago I might have thought it was a little over the top. Perhaps she was a little too raw and let us into her turbulent, almost ugly emotions as they zigged and zagged and rose and crashed even lower repeatedly. Then, I walked that treacherous road myself and wondered if she had been spying on me. Being a guy I held it a little more together in front of everyone else than her, but my emotions on the inside were as messy and even shocking to me as hers were to her.
I will take her at her word that she was completely the victim of what had happened to her, though if she even had any blame somewhere I don’t think it would have changed the message of the book any. I could still relate to her book though my story was different. I was at once a perpetrator and a victim. I had the additional wrestling of trying to figure out before the Lord where the line between the two was. The book still spoke clearly to my heart.
Still, I could feel inside my own heart some of the same feelings she so vividly exposed in her own. The shock. The shame. The exasperation. The uncertainty. The unclear trek ahead. She had had a writing and public speaking ministry that was probably most popular to married Christian ladies and now her own marriage had fallen apart. I was a pastor who loved the ministry beyond description and the walls came tumbling down. Then there are all the other ripples and currents that go to so many other areas of life.
Sometimes I got the feeling she was writing to herself and we were just eavesdropping. Maybe that’s why the book works so well. It’s more about principles that a Christian must wrestle with when life gets completely topsy-turvy. It’s like things you know, but you need the strongest reminder. It’s like things you would have told people in the past, and now you have to tell yourself every moment. I appreciate that she never presented herself as this perfectly packaged Christian who had it all together and was just facing each blow with perfect faith and fortitude. No, it was almost touch-and-go, but a constant bottom-line Christianity that knew there was nowhere to go but to the Lord. She got past worrying about how to understand Him or what He was doing, but just to continue going to Him. And, yes, a faith that realized that the Lord loved her and though she was going a road she despised traveling, somehow, though maybe not in this life, Christ would only take her closer to Himself. There comes a time in life when platitudes won’t do. Those words that could roll so easily off the tongue in a sermon or a discussion without a moment of thought are exposed for all the uncaring that is behind them.
Instead of that tripe that fills the thousands of pages of regurgitated Christian self-help books, she reminded us that the Christian life is a battle, that we are dust, that we are broken, and that a bunch of horrible things really could work together for good in the Lord’s hands.
She made no promises she couldn’t keep. Neither to herself, nor to we who read her book. She still didn’t know how things would turn out and neither do we. There simply is no help until we can figure that out. There are things we can’t control and there are outcomes we can’t produce.
She also refuted the lie that if we can just survive this round of trouble all will be well. On the heel of her family tragedy came the dark blow of cancer. Weakened by the first onslaught she had nothing left to face the second one. Our problems may not go away. The next problem, itself large and scary, may come before we’ve had a chance to heal and strengthen from the first one. Perhaps we’ve overlooked that aspect of Job’s story in Scripture.
So what was the good thing that she had to say besides the spiritual nuggets mentioned above that may be more dreadful to realize than to never have thought about them? Well, it certainly wasn’t a three-, five-, or ten-step program to cancel our tragedy. That would have been too simple anyway, wouldn’t it have been? You may not like the answer. She may not like how I will summarize it. But it is the only answer there is. Trust. Live closely nestled up to Jesus. Expect more possibly. And when it comes, trust. Live closely nestled up to Jesus. It may be as hard to do tomorrow as it was today. Still, trust. Live closely nestled up to Jesus. This is all there is. This is all we need. Trust because we will someday see how He worked it all out. Live closely nestled up to Jesus because that’s the only way to survive the journey until then. It is what we were always meant for anyway.
THANK YOU to whoever sent me this book! I’m sincerely grateful.