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My name is Kenneth, but I go by K.C. I am 20 years old and I am a student at Phoenix Seminary studying to be a children's minister. I am passionate about children’s ministry and discipleship.



A Place of Healing Book Review

A Place of Healing Book Review

A Place of Healing

by Joni Eareckson Tada
Length: Approximately 6 hours. To read (246 Pages).
TCB Rating:
four-half-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

Does God heal today? Why am I suffering? Is there an end to the pain? These are all questions that everyone may ask in their lives, but all the more so if they suffer from chronic conditions or pain. After becoming a quadriplegic over forty years ago and now entering into a season of chronic pain, Joni Eareckson Tada wrestles with these questions, drawing from personal testimony and from the testimony of Scripture.

Who should read this?

If you have ever dealt with sickness or pain, or if someone you love has, this book is for you. Even if you have not, this book is well worth the read to see how God’s sovereignty can mix with our suffering.

A Place of Healing Book Review 1

SUMMARY

Joni Eareckson Tada has been in a wheelchair for most of her life. She is no stranger to suffering or challenges. Still, as she wrote this book she was in a new season of chronic pain. From the midst of this storm, Joni is left to wrestle with questions that are difficult in the best of circumstances. Throughout the books 10 chapters she asks, and in some ways answers, the questions “does God heal?”, “does God always heal?”, “what is the purpose for my pain?”, and “how do I glorify God from the midst of this storm?”.

In the midst of her suffering, Joni is able to honestly and thoroughly deal with these questions. She examines all that has been laid out before her and looks at it through the lens of Scripture and the experiences of herself and others.

The goal of the book is not to convince you to have enough faith to be healed, or to get you to “suck it up”. Rather, Joni uses every circumstance to point the reader and the sufferer (herself included) back to God. Beyond just suffering, this book is about God and His sovereign rule and authority, and how we can rest in that confidence.

ANALYSIS

As someone who deals with chronic pain, this book was of more comfort than I can describe. It is comforting to know that in the battle, I am not alone. It is also comforting to receive words of encouragement and advice from someone who has come to truly know and love God. It is hard to describe how much books like this are needed, even if it is just to remind others that they are not alone.

More than that though, the book itself is excellent. Joni’s writing style bleeds with her personality. Her words drip with compassion and care. She is quick witted and, with the occasional sassy remark, makes you feel comfortable reading. I can easily say it was one of the easiest books to pick up and read for that reason. It felt less like a book, and more like a talk with Joni. Her words feel personal and welcoming, reaching out to those who with her are crying out for relief.

The book uses a lot of personal antidotes. By doing so, those who suffer get to see that they are not alone in their struggles. Joni uses more than just her own personal experiences, drawing from her friends, ministry partners, and those that her ministry has served overseas. This book provides a very accessible conversation for those struggling, rather than a theological discourse.

This is not to say that it is not theological, but rather it is for those in the midst of the struggle who need to see theological principals applied, not just said. For this reason, it is a great book for those who suffer.

While she uses personal experiences to guide the conversation, ultimately all of her answers are grounded in Scripture and in the nature of God. Throughout the book, her eyes never come off of the one who gives her the strength to continue on. It is abundantly clear that her strength comes from the Lord, and she encourages the reader to look to Him as well. Her message here is one that all believers should listen to, even if there suffering is short lived.

I only have one complaint about the book. When she quotes Scripture, she pulls from many different translations, which is perfectly fine. However, in addition to the translations, she also uses a couple of paraphrases, namely The Message and The Living Bible. I hold to the conviction that the Message is not a sound paraphrase and have many issues with it (which I do not have time to get into right now). I am a little disappointed to see it used here, but it is not used often enough to provide a stumbling block, and the verses she uses it for are fine.  

CONCLUSION

Not many people are willing or able to write a book about dealing with a storm while they are situated in the middle of it, but after reading this book (and others like A Greif Observed by C.S. Lewis), I feel like more should. Joni is able to let her writing cry out and sympathize with those in pain in a way that someone who has already left the storm behind may not be able to.

I am incredibly grateful for this book and for the work of Joni Eareckson Tada. If you or someone you know is in the midst of suffering, or have suffered in the past, I highly encourage you to pick up this book.

four-half-stars
By | 2018-07-10T21:49:22+00:00 July 13th, 2018|

Miserable Comforters are you all: How to not counsel like Job’s friends

I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all” (Job 16:1). How often can we resonate with Job in our times of turmoil? We all have that one friend who offers advice that is less than helpful, and more often hurtful.

You know the one, the one with an answer for every situation that doesn’t actually answer the problem.

However, if we are honest, we may just as often be that person ourselves. We may not intend to be, but it’s in many of our nature as humans to try and solve problems. We see someone hurting, so we try to solve their hurt. However, we all know that this advice is not always beneficial. There are surely times to give advice, but not every answer, no matter how right it may be, needs to be spoken at that moment.

Miserable Comforters are you all

This was part of Job’s problem as he was taking time to grieve his loss and wrestle with his feelings, Job’s friends offer no comfort, instead they give him only more heartache. They were “worthless physicians” (Job 13:4) that did not heal but only torment, something that we may be prone to do as well. So here are a few considerations courtesy of Job’s friends to keep in mind.  

 

Don’t Share Unhelpful Truths

Much of what Job’s friends said were, in some way, correct (or at least teetering on correct). For example, it is true that, in all actuality, we as humans deserve much worse than what we get. It should be more shocking that we get away with so much rather than the reality of what we have. To paraphrase Jonathan Edwards sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, we deserve nothing short of hell and eternal punishment for our sins. It is only by grace that we are not immediately cast off.

Those statements may be true, but in the midst of suffering, they are exceedingly unhelpful and take on a measure of falsehood. In Job 11, that is what his friend Zophar does. When you are trying to comfort someone saying things like this, or “other people have it worse” does nothing to lift them out of the darkness or point them towards Christ. All it does is show them that they are in darkness, which they already know. There are times and places that these truths must be shared, and there are times when they should not be as well.

 

Avoid the “I Know Better” Attitude

In Job 12:3, Job says “but I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know such things as these”. Often in tough situations, it is good to remind people of the simple truths of the Gospel and of who God is. In fact, at all times we need to be reminded of the simple truths of the Gospel. However, there is a clear difference between reminding and calling someone to look up to Christ, and preaching down to them as if they don’t understand or know these basic truths (assuming they do).

What Job’s friends were doing was condescending. They were attacking Job and his knowledge of God all the while acting as if they knew the cause and truth behind the situation. They danced around with their words and were attempting to justify God and condemn Job. That is not how we should act in these situations. Rather, we point to God as the justifier and comforter. We sit humbly and graciously remind.

 

Know When to Stop Talking

Job’s friends did the right thing at first. They sat and grieved with their friend for seven days. They sat and were just with their friend. And then Eliphaz spoke and everything went downhill from there. For Job’s friends, they should have never started talking, but they should have also have gotten the message to stop.

By the end of all their speeches, Job was looking at his friends and asking them “how then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood” (Job 21:34). His friends were speaking without saying anything. They were answering a question that they did not know the answer to, but were acting like they did. This is a problem that I suspect plagues many of us when giving counsel (it does me at least). We don’t need to provide an answer for every situation.

 

What to do

So then, is the answer to helping people to do nothing? Absolutely not! Instead, we need to look to the example of Elihu and of God Himself. Job’s friends were telling Job to look in himself to see what the problem is and how to solve it, which at times may be necessary, we do need to examine ourselves for sin and make sure we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). However, the end goal is not ourselves, it’s God. We need to look to Him. When there is suffering, we need to point back to God.

Now, this does not mean that we don’t use other techniques and write them off as unbiblical. In some situations, people who are suffering need to go see a professional counselor. Rather, it means that we make sure that the ultimate focus is God. Psychology can be useful, advice can be useful, just sitting in silence can be useful, but they are all insufficient and harmful without God being the goal.

Our goal is not to justify God or to explain why evil exists in these moments of suffering. In the midst of Job’s suffering, God called him to look up towards Him and trust Him. Now, that is not easy to do, but if we want any chance at real comfort for ourselves and others, to God we must point.

Suffering needs to be dealt with carefully. We need to be loving and Biblical in how we help those in turmoil. We can easily utter what we don’t understand, and talk about what we do not know (Job 42:3) and do nothing but confuse and hurt. Or, we can point to God, the one who has the power to heal and is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).

By | 2018-06-11T23:02:20+00:00 June 16th, 2018|

Four Things Chronic Illness Has Taught Me

Sometimes, life just does not feel fair. Living with a chronic illness exemplifies this. It is far too easy to take a condition you have and to make it the focus of your life.

It is also far too easy to become discouraged and bitter because what may be easy for someone (like walking up the stairs as an example) is a chore for you, if it is possible at all. Feelings of hopelessness as doctors are unable to do anything but keep pain at bay are very common. This is the life that many people live.

Four Things Chronic Illness Has Taught Me

I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, so I am all too familiar with those feelings. I know what it is like to cry your heart out to God asking Him to take something from you, or to sit in a doctor’s office while the doctor scratches their head because the last time they heard of your condition was in their second year of med school. Living life like this is not easy, but through it, God has taught (and is teaching) me some invaluable lessons that I may not have learned otherwise.

 

  • God is still God

Of all that I have learned, this is the most important for getting through each day. It is on the days when getting out of bed is a chore that I am most reminded (or need to be reminded) of this. It is the times when I cry out for relief that I find myself closest to Him, even if the relief that I pray for relief does not come. I live in the tension of knowing that He sustains me and that He is the God of all comfort, and that at times I have to trust that is grace is sufficient for me, especially in these times of weakness.

There comes a time when those of us who suffer have to look and say, “If I am healed, praise God. If I am not, praise God.” Those words are hard to say, but as I have learned through my suffering, those words are sometimes all that I can fall back onto. He is still God, and I am still not. Until this is learned, suffering can be unbearable, but it is through the fire of suffering that this lesson can be learned at the deepest level.

 

  • All things work together for His good

When things go bad, knowing that God is at work has a whole new meaning. It’s easy to see His hand when everything is going my way. Knowing that He is working all things for good, even if that good is not what I expect, receives a whole new meaning. The good that He is working is not guaranteed to bring me physical comfort or healing, though He may.  It does mean, however, that He will use this. Even the moments when the very act of sitting up is a chore.

He is the one who sustains me in those moments, and through those moments I grow closer to Him. The good that He works is for His glory. It is obvious that I cannot do much by my own strength. Through my pain, I have learned more about God and His grace than I could have otherwise. I have seen Him glorified in my life through what may appear to be the most trivial of circumstances. His good and His will have been exemplified through these times.  

 

  • Not needing the acceptance of men

Part of my condition is that it is classified as an “invisible illness”. What this means is that, on most days, you cannot tell that I am sick. It is not uncommon for me to get weird looks or to have snide remarks when I take the elevator up to the second floor or stumble while walking. I hear on a regular basis “but you look fine’, or “but you’re too young to be in this type of pain”.

It is very easy for me to crave being accepted by others, to not have those remarks or looks, to not be treated like I may break at any moment. However, this is not an option for me. Instead, I have started to learn to accept this and to not put my worth in others view of me, which is a large area where I can find myself struggling. Instead, I have learned to have trust in God as my identity and my focus.

 

  • Perseverance

When there is no end in sight, you have two options. You can either surrender, or you can take the situation and push through. As a Christian, I have found that the only option that is open to me is to persevere. This holds true for both my faith and my physical body. There are times where I do have to just lie down recover, but I always fight to get back up and keep on going.

The same has become true of my faith. There are times when the pain I have been in has made me look at my faith in the face and look to see how sincere it is. I had to keep fighting to see that it is strong enough to make it through another night of pain. Those nights have made me more sure of my confidence in God than a thousand peaceful nights could have. James was right on when he said that through the trials that test our faith, we are made mature and complete (James 1:2-4).

 

Final Thoughts

These are only a few of the lessons that I have learned through living with a chronic illness, however, I also belive they are lessons that every Christian should learn. I would never have prayed to have learned these lessons this way, but God knew what He was doing and has shaped me and furthered me in sanctification, and He continues to do so as I take the lessons further to heart.  

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of if you have conditions like this or not, learn these lessons. Pray that you can learn them easily through the study of Scripture or through the experiences of people like me, but if God has allowed you to learn through an illness, rejoice through that as well and learn to lean on Him.

By | 2018-05-04T00:25:27+00:00 April 25th, 2018|

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