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Book Notes

Written by Frederika Pronk
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Comfort During Sickness and Suffering
Sooner or later troubles and suffering come to all of us, only some seem to receive many more afflictions than others. Very few are called to suffer like Job, yet most experience times when they do not understand God's ways. The Bible, and especially the book of Psalms, is our supreme book of comfort. There we learn that ultimately our help comes from God alone. Through the ages, Christians have struggled with pain, suffering and death. Much has been written on this subject and is available for our assistance. Every one has his or her personal struggle with unanswered questions in our life. Even though we may at the present time be exempt from deep trials and afflictions, it is good to prepare ourselves when they do come, not only for our personal benefit, but so that we can help others. Among the many books on this subject I have found the following profitable. I'm not sure whether they are all still in print.
Clarkson, Margaret. Destined for Glory and Grace Grows Best in Winter (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 255 Jefferson Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503). The first book deals with the meaning of suffering. The author writes from her experience with a life-long struggle with pain and explains how Biblical truths have brought comfort and freedom in God. Topics include "Why," "Suffering and the Will of God," and "Sovereign Lord." The second book has 31 short chapters, interspersed with poetry by herself and others. The author deals with practical topics such as "God's Hedge," "In All Points Tempted," "When Pain Comes in to Stay," "When you Can't Pray," and "Sleeplessness." A Canadian Presbyterian, the author has written many thoughtful Christian books, but because they were published in the United States, she is not as well-known as she deserves to be. These contemporary book have helped many who went through deep ways of suffering.

Ellsworth, Roger. Is There an Answer? (The Banner of Truth Trust, P.O. Box 621, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013, USA, 1990. 28 pp.) In this little booklet the American author shows the relevance of the book of Job in finding answers to the questions of suffering and calamities.

Gariepy, Henry. Portraits of Perseverance, 100 Meditations from the Book of Job (Victor Books, A Division of Scripture Press Publications Inc., P.O. 1825, Wheaton, Illinois 60189, 1989; paperback, 215 pp.) In 100 brief, thought-provoking meditations on selected verses from the book of Job, the author deals with topics such as "Prosperity Theology," "Life is not Fair," "Stress," "Where is My Hope," and finally, "The Ultimate Answer." The approach is contemporary, but thoughtful, deep and refreshing.

Howard, Donald. Christians Grieve Too (The Banner of Truth Trust, P.O. Box 621, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013; paperback, 30 pp.). This little booklet gives the author's personal experience with the prolonged illness of his wife who eventually passed away. He describes how he was prepared and sustained by Scripture. It also gives advice for what a congregation can do to help those who are going through similar trials.

Kuyper, Abraham. In the Shadow of Death, Meditations for the Sick-Room and at the Sick-Bed (Old Paths Publications, Ernie Springer, 223 Princeton Road, Audubon, NJ 08106, 1993; 317 pp.). A reprint of a 1929 translation, the book consists of 48 devotional and practical topics such as divine chastisement, sudden death, sickness and sin, Satan in our suffering, the sting of death, sown in corruption, and "thou too must die." The devotional thoughts are spiritual and serious. We see here another side of the well-known Dr. Kuyper with whom we differ on crucial theological viewpoints.

M'Cheyne, Robert Murray. Comfort in Sickness and Death (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979; paperback, 94 pp.) The author is the well-known 19th century Scottish Presbyterian minister who was much used by God and died young. There are seven chapters on the raising of Lazarus and M'Cheyne focuses on the sympathizing love and the power of Christ's presence to those who are experiencing suffering, sickness and grief.

Murray, John J. Behind a Frowning Providence (The Banner of Truth Trust, P.O. Box 621, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013, USA, 1990; 30 pp.) In this little booklet the contemporary author draws on Scripture and several doctrinal and devotional authors, as well as his own experience of a deep, dark way, to show how faith is able to triumph in the face of sorrow and suffering. Rather than asking questions, his wise counsel is that "The only ultimate solution is to cultivate nearness to God" (p.25). The Bibliography mentions several classic, doctrinal and devotional treatises: The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel, The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston, Letters of Samuel Rutherford, and All Things Good by Thomas Watson--all Banner of Truth Trust publications. Contemporary books listed are Faith Tried and Triumphant by Dr.M. Lloyd-Jones (IVP), Affliction by Edith Schaeffer (Hodder), Why Us? by Warren Wiersbe (IVP) and In All Their Afflictions by Murdoch Campbell (Gospel Standard Publications).

Power, P.B. A Book of Comfort for those in Sickness (The Banner of Truth Trust, P.O. Box 621 Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013, USA, 1974, Paperback, 100 pp.). The topics dealt with include subjects such as "Being Useless, "Unworthiness" and "Being a Trouble to Others." The approach is practical and spiritual, and focuses on giving hope and comfort.

Ryle, J.C. Sickness (Gospel Mission Press, 1980; paperback, 20 pp.). In his characteristic style Ryle applies the Bible narrative of Lazarus's sickness and death to today. He deals with the universal prevalence of sickness and the benefits and duties which may be obtained from being sick.

VanBaren, Rev. G.J. Good Morning Alice (Reformed Free Publishing Assoc., c/o Daniel and Sharon Kleyn, P.O. Box 2006, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, USA). Both devotional and a story, the author shares his thoughts in a series of cards written to Alice, his sister, who is struggling with Lou Gehrig's disease and finally dies. Comfort is brought by pointing to the sovereignty and grace of God.

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