Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reviewing James MacDonald's When Life is Hard

I received James MacDonald's book, When Life is Hard, a few years ago when Pastor MacDonald was a council member of the Gospel Coalition. Christian books about overcoming adversity appeal to me so I was thankful to receive this book as a Christmas gift. Unfortunately, I never found When Life is Hard to be very engaging and only recently finished this 200 pager. I think I would have enjoyed the book more had I read it several years ago when I was at a different stage in life. Perhaps it would have been better for me to read the book with others and to write down my answers to the questions Pastor MacDonald posed. I found nothing in Pastor MacDonald's book that caused me to raise any eyebrows although I would not simply say that God allows painful, difficult things to happen. A few of the positives in his book include having key words and phrases bolded or in italics, the use of Scripture (ESV, NASB, and NKJV translations) throughout the book, and how nicely the book is organized. Some of the ways Pastor MacDonald speaks truth include:

Glimpses of God: At the beginning of every chapter a theme verse is examined, word by word.
From God's Heart to Mine: At the end of each chapter are a couple of verses or a short Scripture passage to memorize.
Mining for Gold: Each chapter includes a set of personal questions designed to help you reflect on and implement what God is showing you about trials in your life.
Come Forth as God: The final chapter looks at the sixteen key lessons covered in the book and summarizes them.

I am sure many people have made better sense of pain and suffering from reading When Life is Hard, and I think more will be blessed in the years to come by Pastor MacDonald's stories of hope. I appreciate hearing messages that don't gloss over the fact that life is hard at times, but there is One who can help you through the hard times.