One of the benefits of blogging is getting free books, although as other bloggers have already discovered, I’m learning that sometimes that can be too much of a good thing. I love reading, and I can read fast when I want to, but it’s just not possible to keep up with all of the requests for book reviews without turning my blog into a book review site and while still getting to read books of my own choosing.
Some bloggers solve this dilemma by choosing not to review books at all, but for me, a free book is still a treat, and I’m happy to share the occasional excerpt or book review. I am, however, starting to set some boundaries:
- I’m now reviewing physical books only—no pdfs or e-books—since I spend too much time in front of a screen as it is.
- I’m reviewing only books that I can recommend. I do have one book on my shelf that I had signed up to review, but after reading the first couple of chapters, I had reservations about the author’s approach, so have decided simply to set that book aside.
- I don’t feel obligated to review or blog about every free book that gets sent to me unless I’ve specifically requested a copy of the book or otherwise committed to a review.
With those few caveats, I’d like to share one of the recent free treats in my mailbox: The God Who Heals: Words of Hope for a Time of Sickness (Plough Publishing House, 2016), written by the father-son pastoral team of Johann Christoph Blumhardt and Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt. While originally written in the 1800s, the book reads well for today, translated from the German by Miriam Mathis, with a foreword by Rick Warren.
Rather than focusing narrowly only on outward physical healing, the Blumhardts share a larger concern for inner spiritual healing as we deal with the uncertainty, doubt, fear, and suffering that may be part of a time of sickness. Much of what they say applies to other kinds of loss as well, for the God Who Heals meets us not only in sickness but in times of job loss, the death of a loved one, and other difficulties.
Each of the 61 devotionals are just a few pages long, but I found them packed with encouragement, and am pleased to share the following excerpt with you.
Be Still, God Is at Work
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15
The prophet Isaiah spoke at a time when God’s people were in great danger from invading enemies. One can imagine the tremendous unrest, turmoil, and confusion that came when they were prey to the murderous, vindictive, blood-thirsty, and predatory enemy.
In such desperate situations we naturally become restless to the point of insanity and cry out in fear. Yet Isaiah tells God’s people to be quiet and calm, to have patience and hope. Those who learn to be trusting and unruffled in the midst of affliction will find their way and will be helped. Their eyes will be more open, their feelings more sober, and they will find a little opening where they can slip through, which they could not see as long as they restlessly stormed and raged in their agitation.
I once saw wasps in a vineyard. There were little white bottles hanging on the stalks, open above and covered with sugar or honey. The wasps, attracted by the sweetness, got lost and stuck in the bottle. Why? Because once inside, they got frantic as they kept trying to escape through the glass. They lost their heads, so to speak, and forgot about the opening above, where they could easily have found their way out. But not one could get out; they all perished inside the bottle. Then I thought, that’s how we are in our restlessness. We bang our heads against the wall and do not see how our restless spirit makes us blind to what God is doing, and consequently, we lose our way with no one to blame but ourselves. An unpeaceful heart is in danger of losing everything.
By becoming still, says the prophet, we will be strong. A quiet spirit rises up and looks to God, from whom confidence and courage come. Then we can dare to think, “Even if I can’t do such and such, God can.” We are able to visualize anew who God is, what his plan is for humankind, and how he wants all people to be saved through Jesus Christ. Such thoughts will surely give us inner strength and courage, and through his Spirit, something of his understanding and peace.
Oh, what times still lie ahead of us when we will really need the words of the prophet! Let us lose no time in turning immediately to God in hope. He brings us help in many things, in everything, but we must become quiet to see God at work.
The God Who Heals: Words of Hope for a Time of Sickness.
Copyright © 2016 Plough Publishing House. Used with permission.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: The wasps in the bottle form a striking image of restlessness. What other image comes to mind for you? What image might you use to express the confidence and courage of a quiet spirit?
For more on writing and other acts of faith,