I reserved this book at the library expecting a thick, biographical book that would be the most profound book I’d ever read about suffering. What I picked up instead was a relatively small book that reads like a devotional. But I was right about one thing—it’s a pretty profound.
The Scars the Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering, by Vaneetha Rendall Risner, is an excellent book. I read it in two days. It was that good, and that easy to read. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s suffering… or, any Christian in general.
My favorite part of this book is the transparency and honesty. Ms. Risner has been through an awful lot— from polio as a child, to bullying, to many miscarriages, to losing her son, to being left by her husband, to developing post-polio syndrome. But she doesn’t take on a superior attitude and present readers with overused platitudes. She is very honest. The lessons presented in each chapter comes not from a high point in her life when she was a “super Christian”, but from a low point when she was crying out to God and He was teaching her. In that sense, the book is less profound and just simply honest and true.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from this book:
This shift from wailing to worship has nothing to do with changing circumstances; it is we who are changed by encountering God, seeing His goodness and power, understanding His character.
In the end, we are all left alone with God [in our suffering]… So what do we do when we feel drained and empty? When no one understands our suffering and no one seems to care? When we feel discouraged and tired and unbearably lonely? Read the Bible and pray. Read the Bible even when it feels like eating cardboard. And pray even when it feels like talking to a wall.
My places of famine and desolation have become the places where I see Him most clearly. Not only does He meet my every need; He wondrously fills me with Himself.
This relentless need is what drives me to my knees, brings me to Jesus, makes me long for heaven. And perhaps in heaven, I will thank God most for my unfulfilled longings because they did the deepest, most lasting work on my soul.
That gives a pretty good taste of what this book is about, I think. Like I said, it reads less like a biography (actually, there is very little narrative about her life) and much more like a devotional.
In closing, I would highly recommend this book to anyone, especially if you’re suffering. Pick it up on Amazon, at the library, as an eBook, or even for free at Desiring God’s website. This book will change your perspective on suffering, and be a great comfort and reminder of God working in suffering. This book offers the most beautiful, profound, raw truths about suffering and trusting God in the midst of it. It leaves you saying, “I want to know that God.”
And… to whet your appetites, here’s a 10-minute video about her life. It doesn’t replace the book, so be sure to read the book, too, but it is encouraging all the same.
I hope everyone enjoyed this book review for January! I’m hoping to review a book every month, so stay tuned! I would so, so love it if you’d let me know which of the books that I review you’ve either read before or will read because of my review. Until next Tuesday…