"Glorious Ruin" by Tullian Tchividjian. It's only been available for purchase for less than 2 weeks but because I've been so blessed by his writing (including Jesus + Nothing = Everything) I preordered the book awhile back and had been waiting for it ever since. But the subtitle alone will tell you why I was quick to get it: "how suffering sets you free." I'm a third of the way through it and it's already been well worth the cost of the book. I didn't expect so much of it to keep digging into the gospel. One of Tchividjian's main purposes in it is to free us from how we typically respond to suffering and trials: either minimizing the pain or viewing it simply as a self-improvement opportunity to press through. The gospel frees us to accept the pain honestly and to get beyond a mindset of simply "gutting it out" as we accept the truth:
There's been times where I've definitely been tempted to minimize what we're going through or to try to suck it up and push forward as if I can fend off future suffering. But both fail. Minimizing doesn't allow you to actually deal with the pain. Viewing it simply as a growth opportunity doesn't work when you feel beyond yourself and just exposed in all your weakness. Then it quickly turns into a lesson in how much of a failure you are and how few answers you have. I've certainly been there many times in the past few months. I've also been tempted to minimize to avoid some tears. The gospel frees me to embrace it as it is without despair and embrace my God as He is for me. The gospel frees me to accept that I am not in control and don't have to be. I can be reminded with hope that this world is not our home.
For the life of the believer, one thing is beautifully and abundantly true: God's chief concern in your suffering is to be with you and be Himself for you.
Chapter 3 of Glorious Ruin begins with a recounting of a particularly relevant Calvin & Hobbes comic that left me laughing at its truth and how freeing Calvin's response is.
Esther and I should be heading home tomorrow night but I've been very thankful for this time with her. I'll be happy to be home but it's been a special time here that God has truly met me in. It's insane, reflecting on the past few days, how little loneliness I've felt, honestly. God is able and willing to meet us wherever we are. I'm not sure if I've ever felt that more in my entire life than sitting here at Children's Hospital while Esther has been receiving chemotherapy for a very dangerous cancer.
The gospel frees us to speak honestly about the reality of pain, confident that nothing rides on our ability to cope with or fend off suffering. (Glorious Ruin, p68)