I have a hard time identifying with the term suffering, because the word seems loaded with comparison. Even when we do feel like we are suffering, it can be hard to talk about it or admit it to others because it seems a little lame compared to the far worse things others deal with.
That’s why I loved Elisabeth Elliot’s book A Path Through Suffering. She doesn’t mess with platitudes about being glad that at least you aren’t as bad off as so-and-so. Rather, she defines suffering as “having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have.” Even mild trouble ought to be handled the same way as debilitating and tragic loss, because “if we don’t learn to refer the little thing to God, how shall we learn to refer the big ones?”
The book is simply chock full of convicting, encouraging words on dealing with the discomforts of life in a godly way. There is so much wisdom on how to navigate day-to-day living. I took copious notes and am using them as I work on my goals for next year.
I may choose A Path Through Suffering as one of my top books of this year. Highly, highly recommended.
In Discipline: The Glad Surrender, Elisabeth Elliot offers an interesting perspective on several disciplines of life. While she touches on some that probably come to mind, the book tackles these subjects from a different perspective than you usually find. Rather than prescribing a set of rules, Elliot gets into heart attitudes on topics like controlling your thoughts, being disciplined with your time, and not letting your feelings run away with you. I found all of the topics extremely helpful and thought-provoking, and would also recommend this volume. I’m finding it helpful in setting priorities for next year, but it would be a rich resource any time.
For my Bible study in November I worked through Savor & Establish, a study on Philippians with a focus on thankfulness. I thought it was perfect for the month, especially as I feel like I have more than the usual things to be grateful for this season. I’m not sure how long this will be available, but for the time being you can get a copy of the study free when you subscribe to MacKenzie Monroe’s website. It’s well worth it!
Theologian R.C. Sproul has a series of short books dealing with critical questions of faith, all of which are free on Kindle. I read How Should I Live in This World?, which is an application of biblical frameworks to popular ethical quandaries. Sproul succinctly describes how to apply principles from the Bible to these questions, without being blinded by our culture or time period.
The book is very short for the topic it covers. If you’re interested in really deep exegesis and detailed philosophical application, this might not be the book for you. But if you just want a quick hit I think it’s a fairly solid choice.
I am so glad I purchased Jenni Keller’s latest book Love Comes Near: An Advent Bible Study. I’ve gotten a lot out of her previous studies, and although this one is structured differently I am really, really enjoying it.
Unlike Keller’s previous work, Love Comes Near doesn’t cover one book of the Bible. Instead, Keller selected Advent-related passages for each day. I’m appreciating the reminder to keep my focus on Advent.
But the best part of the study is Keller’s inclusion of a shorter version of each day’s study geared towards kids. I love this! It’s a perfect way to get my three big kids more practice looking up Bible passages, plus good kid-level discussion questions, and a passage to copy out each day (sneaky copywork/handwriting practice!!!). I wish I could find more studies like this for us to do throughout the year.
What books or studies on faith have you enjoyed lately?
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