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Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? Paperback – June 1, 2009
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"If you are presently suffering, this book is for you. And if you are not, this book is still for youin preparation for the trials that will undoubtedly come. Regardless of your current circumstances, Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? will help you perceive Gods purpose in suffering, receive Gods grace in trials, and draw near to our great High Priest, who suffered the unimaginable horrors of the cross for us." --C. J. Mahaney
About the Author
Ligon Duncan is the Senior Minister of the historic First Presbyterian Church (1837), Jackson, Mississippi, President of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Chairman of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Convener of the Twin Lakes Fellowship, and Adjunct Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary. He served as the 32nd Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in America (2004-2005), the youngest minister ever to fill that post.
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"The problem with the way many Christians treat suffering," say the authors, "is that they simply attempt to put a happy face on trials. A little personal suffering, however, goes a long way in revealing how vacuous careless platitudes can be. The issue of suffering is not to be treated in a cold and pedantic manner. Suffering is real and not something to be handled several steps removed. Yet if we address suffering merely subjectively, without focusing on the objective truths of the Bible, then there is all the reason in the world to despair." Through this short book they attempt to address suffering from a biblical perspective, asking why we suffer, how we are to suffer and how we ought to respond to such difficult times.
The authors cover this territory through four chapters. First they look at the question of "Why Me?" and seek to provide the background to suffering and then look at several ways of suffering well (which is to say, suffering in a way that brings glory to God). In the second chapter they ask "What is God Up To?" and show how important it is that we always see God right at the center of our suffering--that we do not begin to believe that when we suffer, we do so without God. They look at four things God says he intends to accomplish through suffering. Chapter three asks, "How Can We Profit From Suffering?" and offers seven things believers can do to profit from affliction. The fourth and final chapter asks, "What Should We Think of Jesus' Suffering?" Here they show that Jesus' suffering allows him to be sympathetic to us in ours' and then asks what we are to learn from what and how Jesus suffered. Thus, though it is short, the book offers a well-rounded look at the topic.
Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? was first delivered at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi as a series of lectures and that format remains evident even in the book. There is an urgency to the message, an applicability to the message, that comes, no doubt, from the fact that Duncan only had a few hours (and, hence, only a few pages) to communicate his message.
I suspect that the large type, thick paper and seven pages of related books from the publisher are meant to make this look like a more substantial volume than it really is. All-told the actual text comes to 87 pages though, again, this is with a rather large font size. So do know when you buy this book that you are not purchasing an exhaustive volume offering a thorough treatment of suffering. This book can be read in an evening and that is one of its great strengths. It is short but it packs a punch. It may not be the only book you'll want in your library dealing with this subject, but it is certainly a worthy addition on its own merits. I highly recommend it.
Each chapter, titled as a question, answers the questions we all ask when we are suffering such as chapter one, "Why Me?" Duncan biblically takes hold of these questions and answers them tenderly and lovingly while teaching us that we must turn the focus away from ourselves and to the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you're seeking answers to suffering, in whatever form it has taken, I warmly recommend this book to you. It will be beneficial to you as it strengthens your faith.
But the book fails to really define these winters and how grace interweaves with the hardships that the average reader will face. Will grace really grow in the winter of life...I am not sure the author has really answered that question.
As a primer on grace, on it wonderful, but it does not get under our skin or the skinned-up knees of life. The theme of God's grace is strong in the book and for a newcomer to God's beautiful grace it is a good book.