There are many books on suffering and it is hard to set yourself apart as an author when you are addressing this topic. One thing is certain: suffering will come to absolutely every one of us. There is no escaping it.
To be honest, seeing that the forward was written by Gary Chapman made me want to read it. I respect him as an author, so I knew that he would only put his name on the best books.
In my opinion, Donna Gibbs did an excellent job setting herself apart from the other authors who have addressed this topic. I loved the real-life examples. It made the book so personable to me. I’m not currently in a season of suffering, but have come out of a year of intense suffering. It was wonderful to read the stories and I could see which person I most identified with.
Chapters 2 and 3 were great chapters that no a lot of people address. We say it’s okay to grieve, but there are many who get stuck in grieving. When we don’t understand the “why” and so desperately want to know, we become stuck. Especially when it’s all we can think about. She gave some wonderful examples of people who have become stuck through this exact reason.
My favorite part was Part 2 of the book. It addressed the issue of getting unstuck and building reilience. She spends six chapters addressing the ways that you can best learn to move on. Chapter 4 is how we need to acknowledge our suffering. In it, she tells a heartwrenching story of a woman who had an abortion and she absolutely could not get past it. It carried with her for years until she acknowledged the pain that her family had forced her into.
Chapter 5 is that we need to tell the whole story. Her example was from a man whose wife had committed suicide. I loved how she said we don’t often want to talk ill of someone who has died, but in some cases, it’s needed so we can tell the whole story. She tells the story of Scott who had faced suffering twice in his life in such an intense way. He loses his daughter in such a horrible way, yet he doesn’t become stuck in his grief because of his faith. He chose to still sing praises to God in the midst of his “Red Sea” moments.
Chapter 6 is considering a different angle. She shares about her Honduran friend taught her that we needed to redefine suffering. So often, we just need another perspective in our suffering and pain.
Chapter 7 is balancing emotional boundaries. This chapter threw me for a loop because I thought she was going to discuss about setting up boundaries with others. However, she talks about the destructive thoughts in her mind. How do we describe ourselves vs. how God describes us. These are often two totally different viewpoints and we tend to believe most how we describe ourselves.
Chapter 8 addresses how to maintain healthy relationships. Oftentimes, suffering gives us tunnel vision and all we can see is ourselves and the pain. She reminds her readers that we need the church and we need each other. So don’t shy away from those you need. Embrace them and search them out.
Chapter 9 is on practicing self-care. You have to stay well during your suffering, even if your heart is broken. It’s so easy to forget about ourselves, but we must remember to sleep, eat, laugh, exercise, journal, obsess about Jesus, and all of those other things that help us heal.
Part 3 is about turning our healing into thriving. Suffering is a terrible part of life. But if we remain stuck in that, we will never thrive. It’s impossible. We must learn to thrive and see the big picture through God’s eyes, not our finite eyes.
This book on suffering is one that is definitely encouraging. She doesn’t make light of suffering and yet, you still come away feeling like you’ve just sat on the couch and talked to your counselor or your best friend. If you or someone you know is suffering, give them this book to read. They will know when they’re ready to read it for themselves.
I received this book free from Revell Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion of this book.