Monday, August 6, 2012

Paul Grimmond's 'Suffering Well' Chapters 10 and 11

After the deep challenges of the previous chapters, Chapter 10 lifts our spirits with the certainty of God’s promises. Once again Paul offers us readers complex topics made clear and simple. There are grand statements to make you stop and think, such as the fact that our fate is connected to Jesus’ fate and that these plans of God were established before time began (p. 145). There are gigantic concepts tackled simply, such as union with Christ (p. 147) and the unchanging character of God (p. 145). But has Paul run out of steam?? Or have I? (I am running behind schedule now that August has already begun!) Or is the enormity of these truths just too hard to come to grips with in a brief chapter towards the end of a book? I don’t know…. It’s just that this second last chapter left me wanting more. This is not necessarily a bad thing; part of the aim was to have us longing for heaven! I’ve always found heaven elusive; Paul’s descriptions on page 148 were enticing, and closer than I’ve come before to having a clear picture of heaven. Overall I think I’ll need to look at the numerous Bible passages Paul’s quoted to keep working out the topics that this chapter’s introduced. No doubt that will prove very fruitful, and better than having Paul do all my thinking!

Chapter 11 worked better for me. The standout challenge here was Paul’s question: ‘How can you grow in suffering well for Christ?’…! That’s something I’ve never asked myself, but it’s a task that I have set for the year ahead, gulp. What a book!!  

I loved the exhortation to read the Bible biblically. It’s a funny (and depressing) concept - to think that people attempt to read it in any other way, but oh, they do, (…and we do). The Bible speaks a different language doesn’t it? For example the word “comfort” as Paul shows us in his illustration of the Comfort Shop versus the comfort of knowing the purpose for which you’re suffering. Or the idea that real joy is not in prosperity but suffering. There is so much in this book to challenge worldly Christians. I’ve begun to rise to the main challenge since starting to read it. I’ve already stuck my neck out a little further in the last month to encourage someone to get to know Jesus, despite the real possibility of an irritated response. In God’s kindness it went well - and why do I think that mere irritation is something to fear anyway? And so I press on…

In a world where so many Christian books offer an instant unleashing of secret spiritual powers (why do I keep reading Koorong catalogues?!) Paul offers us persistence, hard work and a lifetime’s progress. And it all starts with reading your Bible more faithfully! Unspectacular but sound biblical advice. I’m encouraged to keep up my daily devotions, and to read now with a view for how to be so godly so as to suffer. Thanks Paul!! I can see how in the end your book will help me to find the joy of facing various trials, but I’m sure it’ll take some getting used to, and a lot of courage. I’m glad he reminds us that we’ve got each other to help us persevere (p. 159). I guess I should buy this book for my friends to read too so I have some companions on the journey ahead. 

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