Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Book Reviews

(I came across this article in a Google search of "Treasures of Darkness")

Treasures of Darkness

Reaching a new understanding of God's sovereignty through suffering

Treasures of Darkness
By Jane Grayshon
Hodder & Stoughton
152 pages. £6.99
ISBN 0 340 65624 7

The Blessing of Tears
By Julie Sheldon
Hodder & Stoughton
134 pages. £4.99
ISBN 0 340 65200 4

A Grace Disguised
By Gerald L. Sittser
Hodder & Stoughton
184 pages. £6.99
ISBN 0 340 67140 8

Three new titles from Hodder & Stoughton, each written by someone who has known suffering from the inside, all aim to help readers see their own sufferings in a biblical framework.
I believe all these books could be helpful in the right person's hands, whether the counsellor trying to gain a clearer grasp of how suffering feels, or the person who has come through some traumatic experience or grief. The Blessing of Tears has the specific aim of helping us see the healing benefits of weeping. Its short chapters and many illustrations make it easily accessible to anyone, especially if they are not naturally inclined to read books. Its scope is focused, but it does well what it sets out to do.
Treasures of Darkness, as is evident from its title, drawn from Isaiah, shows that there are ways we can come to a new grasp of God's sovereignty only through discovering those riches stored in secret places. Jane Grayshon has written other books on this theme and refers back several times to her recently published A Pathway Through Pain. She writes engagingly. Those who have read the earlier titles may feel they have covered the ground.
I lent all three books to a widowed colleague, to hear her views on them. By the end of the exercise, the book-spines told their own story. We had both pored over pages and re-read parts of A Grace Disguised, and it looked distinctly second-hand!
This book, written by the Associate Professor of Religion at Whitworth College, Washington, reflects on the three years following a road accident in which he lost his mother, his wife and one of his children. The pain is still there. He looks ahead knowing that it will diminish, but that its imprint on his life will remain. The theme of the book is not what tragedy does to us, but what it does in us: how it may transform and realign and strengthen. Gerald Sittser is not self-absorbed; he has a pastoral heart, and constantly refers to others who have suffered differently, for example through sickness or divorce. He is a realist, he is honest, he has spiritual depth. It is no surprise to find the book close with Be Thou My Vision, the hymn sung at his wedding, and again 20 years later at the funeral of his wife, mother and daughter.
My colleague whose views I had sought, told me she had already ordered copies of A Grace Disguised for two friends. I can see why.
Julia Cameron, OMF
© Evangelicals Now - April 1997

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