Thursday, August 2, 2012

As Silver Refined: Answers to Life's Disappointments, by Kay Arthur

***

Well known author and speaker Kay Arthur addresses the role of hardship, suffering, and disappointment in the life of the Christian.  The book is centered around what Arthur calls the "Deadly D's": distraction, deception, disappointment, discouragement, dejection, despair, and demoralization.  These Deadly D's are used by the enemy and experienced by Christians on a daily basis.  Arthur encourages her readers to engage the enemy in the battleground of the mind, taking every thought captive and using the inspired Word of God to defend against attacks, whatever their source.  She reminds us that all things work together for the Christian's benefit--even hard things.  Hence the image of refined silver--a precious substance that has been purified by fire, time and time again.

Allow me to start of by saying that I'm not the best person to judge a book like this.  Just as an unmarried person may not know which books on marriage are the best, or those without kids aren't in the best position to judge the many parenting manuals, I am not all that qualified to evaluate this book.  I have not experienced much in the way of true hardship, and what little I have experienced has been largely the result of my own sin.  So there hasn't been a lot of opportunity for the "Why, God? Why?" internal struggle which is so painful to those living through horrific circumstances and facing heartbreaking (or life-threatening) difficulties.  Not that I don't complain (I do) or yell at God (I do) or struggle to understand His ways in the midst of setbacks (I sooo do).  It's just that while others are dealing with cancer-level disappointments, I'm whining about a papercut.  You get the idea.

The point is, I don't know whether this book would be helpful to someone facing genuine, honest-to-goodness tragedy or suffering or devastation.  What I do know is that Arthur stands unflinching on the sovereign love of God and does not back down.  She speaks with compassion and tenderness, but with a firm conviction that God is truly sovereign, even over hard things.  As a public speaker, Arthur touches many, many people, some of whom contact her and share their experiences and struggles.  She relates story after heartbreaking story, and in each case she responds with love and with an unshakable confidence in the sovereignty of a merciful God.  Which is by no means an easy thing to do in such a relational line of work.  So while I don't actually know how this book would be received by someone in the throes of tribulation, I can't help thinking that the best salve for a struggling heart is truth: knowledge of God's character as demonstrated in the gospel and described in His Word. And that's precisely what Arthur brings to the table.

At the end of the day, the writing isn't brilliant, though for a speaker, it's not half bad--this is my first exposure to Arthur, and I have to say I'm impressed. And yeah, the organization isn't terribly clear (which makes sense, since she's a talker, not a writer).  But the soundness of Arthur's theology more than makes up for any minor shortcomings of presentation. So really, it's more of a three-and-a-half star book.

Oh, and don't let the heft of the book intimidate you--in this latest edition, the last hundred pages or so is a chapter-by-chapter study guide.  And it looks like a pretty decent study guide, at that.  In fact, I'm recommending it to my small group.  And I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more Arthur books.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.