Sunday, July 4, 2010

Book "To Those Who Suffer" by Sean Nolan

About the Book: We often hold out for God to alleviate our circumstantial suffering or pain. But what about those who suffer and fall between the cracks of conventional Christian teaching? Those that don’t have that luxury to have the horrific circumstance removed or reversed that has caused their hardship? These people aren’t able to hold out hope that the Lord will alleviate their circumstances because their circumstances are not transformable within the rules of life that the Lord has set up. The Lord will not reasonably reattach the legs of a person who has had both of their legs amputated, nor will God bring a women’s husband of fifty years back from the dead: so does this mean that these people have no hope? The answer to this question is there is hope! There is a solution to suffering that doesn’t depend on the transformation or relief of our circumstances. 

“To Those Who Suffer” proves that the Lord’s hope is not primarily found in the relief of our condition but in the actions of Christ on the Cross. The Lord will come through for us even if He doesn’t change our circumstances. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t circumstantial blessing and relief to be had in our lives. It simply means that such things are a secondary solution to our suffering compared to the spiritual solution that our Savior sends to all who seek to understand suffering from His standpoint. 

This truth is best displayed by the actions of Christ at the Cross. If Jesus had the circumstantial pain that He was in immediately alleviated, then the greatest gift and most wonderful thing that the world has ever seen would not have come to pass. The same is true for us. “To Those Who Suffer” helps you to understand that the Lord is not ‘short changing’ you by allowing pain and suffering in your life. The best and most wonderful thing that the Lord brings to pass in the lives of His children is not the protection of their personal pleasure but the process of being conformed into the image of His Son.

In Chapter 10 author Sean Nolan explains that Paul understood that the highest calling and greatest gift God gives to His children is not comfortable circumstances but a Christ-like character. Paul realized that suffering fueled and propelled his relationship with God. Through this he came to understand something more fulfilling and valuable than a pain free existence. Paul learned that his physical pain had produced spiritual prosperity. He may have been suffering in his physical earthly circumstances but he was abounding spiritually. His relationship with the Lord had flourished and he had an abundance of Christ-like characteristics that had been cultivated through the removal of his comfort. 

It is the purpose of this book to help you understand that the Lord takes the same tree and changes its fruit. Instead of suffering giving birth to misery, despondency, anger, hate and pain, the Lord prunes and works in our lives so that we bear different fruit from the same tree or circumstances. Instead of negative bitter fruit, our suffering can yield fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Lord may not bring relief of your pain but instead He’ll use it as a breeding ground for Godly character traits such as: love, joy and purpose. 

It is the message of the Cross, and the message of this book to “To Those Who Suffer,” that a seemingly hopeless circumstance can give birth to the most powerful victory and wonderful blessing!

About the Author: Sean Nolan lives in Sydney, Australia with his family. Sean pastors at Glorious Hope Baptist Church which reaches out to some of the most marginalized members of the community. Sean is a graduate of Emmaus Bible College in Sydney, and is actively involved in the political arena. Sean enjoys rugby, cricket and sci-fi and has a passion for people in pain.

My Review: Only those who have experienced pain and suffering will fully understand how amazing this book is and how well the author exposes his points. 
Through four sections (Why God Does What He Does; The Many Different Paths To Pain; The Church versus God - The Answers We All Seek; It Still Hurts), each one with 3 or 4 chapters, the author tries to demonstrate that God is under control. Some quotes touched me deeply, as a major theme for reflection, like when talking about pray, "God does not want our advice. He wants our devotion". Another one: "Christ came to free us from our sin, not necessarily our suffering", and a variation of that, "God is more interested in our character than our comfort". And the list of quotes that makes us think goes on and on. Yet my favorites are "hell is not a place, it is a choice,... hell is the absolute separation from God." and "Paradise is not a place, it is the presence of God". 
Entering into details on the different paths to pain, Sean relates different types of suffering to different Biblical characters that passed through the varying types of hardship that are discussed, which makes the reading very clear and interesting. The "Innocent Suffer" is illustrated by Joseph, the "Self-imposed Suffering" by David, the "Suffering Spiritually" by Job and "All Roads Lead to Rome" by Naomi. 
If you want to read about a serious consideration on suffering and pain, this book is a must have in your permanent library and I can guarantee that you will not suffer and have pain while reading this book (sorry for the joke, Sean)!
This book was written by Sean Nolan and was published by VMI Publishers and B&B Media Group was kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing. 
It took me around 7 hours to read this book.

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