My book reviews have faded into non-existence since January, so I'm hoping to keep up my reading and my reviewing. Here goes...
You might notice a common thread in some of the books I've been reading since the start of the year. I've been seeking refuge in the Lord, encouraged by some writing specifically on the issue of suffering and grief. And Jerry Bridges' book 'Trusting God' might just be the best one that I've read on that subject.
It's always the way, isn't it - I had this book on my Kindle for ages, having found it in one of the special sale bargains highlighted by Tim Challies, and thought that one day I'd get round to it. But who wants to read about suffering until you're enduring it? So in January, I got to the book, and found some balm for my soul, because Bridges brings you to the Lord who is our comforter, the one who can be trusted.
Beginning with the story of his own sudden bereavement, when his mother died when he was just fourteen, he shares that 'learning to trust God in adversity has been a slow and difficult process for me. It is a process that is still under way.' This realism assures the reader that he isn't preaching down to anyone, but rather, 'is written from the perspective of a brother and companion to all those who are tempted at times to ask, 'Can I really trust God?'' The treasure in the book comes because it is 'a Bible study about God and his sovereignty, wisdom, and love as they bear upon the adversities we all encounter.'
His purpose is simple, and twofold - 'First, I desire to glorify God by acknowledging His sovereignty and His goodness. Second, I desire to encourage God's people by demonstrating from Scripture that God is in control of their lives, that He does indeed love them, and that He works out all the circumstances of their lives for their ultimate good.'
Through the book, Bridges addresses the subject by beginning with the big question: 'Can I trust God?' Surveying the pain and horror we see in the world, he readily admits that 'God's people are not immune from pain. In fact it often seems as if theirs is more severe, more frequent, more unexplainable, and more deeply felt than that of the unbeliever.' To answer, he focuses on the two issues raised by the question - is God dependable; and how our relationship with him is, so that we will depend on him.
Time and again, Bridges returns to the three truths about God - 'the sovereignty, love and wisdom of God', not just to increase our knowledge, but so that we can be so convinced of these truths that we appropriate them in our daily circumstances, trusting the God who is sovereign, love, and wise. The tone of the writing is truth-saturated, with a pastor's heart, sensitively but surely applying the truth to the sufferer's heart. Occasionally there was a line that I didn't fully agree with, but on the whole, this was an excellent guide to God's goodness and sovereignty, and will help to strengthen and encourage those who read it to trust God - even when life hurts.
Trusting God is available from Amazonand in Kindleversion.