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When Life Is Hard

A book by James MacDonald

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Refined by God

  • Aug 1, 2010
Rating:
+5
Pastor MacDonald begins at the beginning--what are trials and why does God allow them? His answer is foundational and scriptural: trials are painful circumstances allowed by God to change my conduct and my character. Exegeting Hebrews 12:5-11, MacDonald demonstrates that trials are God's parental perfecting love. The Lord disciplines the one He loves. Right from the start, readers learn the lesson that in trials God is not getting back at them, He is getting them back to Himself.

In chapter two, MacDonald wisely encourages his readers to candidly ask the "Why?" question. He also challenges readers to be prepared to accept God's answer, using James 1:2-8 as his text. That answer is the core of the book--God allows trials to deepen our faith and transform our character. MacDonald personalizes this by asking readers to ask God, "Why has this come into my life now? What do you want to teach me?"

Throughout chapters three, four, and five, MacDonald urges readers to reject the "self-help Jesus" who "came to build your self-esteem and maximize your human potential by Friday." Some readers, accustomed to this Western worldview of Christ may be taken aback and may wonder, "Where's the empathy in When Life Is Hard?" The empathy comes in the personal illustrations of pain and in the obvious passion for people in pain. However, MacDonald doesn't want to leave people simply with a written hug. He wants to teach people what the Bible says to do after the hug.

Believing that God's Word is sufficient for all life issues, Pastor James shares a myriad of practical principles drawn directly from Scripture. These are not trite behavioralistic "to do steps." Instead, they are core heart issues played out in our relationships with God and others. They are other-centered and God-focused applications such as "Grace Your Relationships," Give Away Your Gifts," and "Glorify God."

As only James MacDonald could say it, "some Christians treat God's desire to get holiness into their lives like He's giving them cod liver oil." That captures When Life Is Hard in one picturesque sentence.

God spanks us because He loves us. He loves us too much to allow us to get too comfy. Pain enters. Other hug us--rightfully so. And after the hug we get on with the business of becoming more like Christ. We make a conscious choice to count/consider our trials as joy--the joy of being formed and fashioned into the image of Christ.

Don't miss chapter six. MacDonald arranges sixteen principles from the four passages he has focused on (1 Peter 4, James 1, Hebrews 12, and 2 Corinthians 12). They are worth the proverbial "price of the book." In one-to-two brief pages, he outlines each principle and then suggests profound, practical, and personal applications. A reader could spend a lifetime in this chapter alone.

Having published about grief (God's Healing for Life's Losses) and growth in Christ, I wondered if I would learn anything new from When Life Is Hard. How arrogant of me. I was gripped again by the greatness of God's grace--a grace that does not wink at sin, but rather crucifies sin. When life is hard, cling to the cross of Christ and the Christ of the cross. Enter into the mortification process that our loving heavenly Father ordains so that the salvation won by Christ is applied deeply in our daily lives. That's the refreshingly candid and challenging message of When Life Is Hard.

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About the reviewer
Bob Kellemen ()
Ranked #424
My passion is to equip people to change lives with Christ's changeless truth through Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, culturally-informed biblical counseling and spiritual formation.   … more
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About this book

Wiki

When life is hard, you know, really hard, we often spend all our time pleading, begging, yelling, refusing, and questioning. While none of these things are necessarily unusual, they are missing the ultimate point. When life is hard, when things get ugly, when all hope seems to be lost… that is when we are able to display the superiority of the life lived in God.

It is in those moments of despair, when we question what is happening, when we don’t know what to do, when some trials never…seem…to…end, that we can lean most heavily into God’s promises and truths.

Working his way through five questions we've all had run through our heads trusted pastor James MacDonald helps us to understand what we should do now. We begin the journey by looking at different types of "trials" and figuring out exactly what we're dealing with and recognizing that God certainly knows. Second, the obvious question: "Why?" God sees us going through trials and we long for two things: for them to be over and to know why they happened in the first place. Next, we need to know what to do with these trials when they come (and they will most certainly come). Fourth, we have all wondered it, can trials be refused? Are God's purposes really being fulfilled in the midst of this trying time? And lastly, God reveals Himself to us through these trials. . . and sometimes, they just don't ever end. Why doesn't this ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 080245870X
ISBN-13: 978-0802458704
Author: James MacDonald
Publisher: Moody Publishers

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"Refined by God"
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