Book Review: Does Grace Grow Best In Winter?
This is Rachel Brady's book review of Does Grace Grow Best In Winter? written by Ligon Duncan and J. Nicholas Reid (P & R Publishing, 2009, 87 pages). This book is available online or in the bookstore.
We as believers know that the Christian life is not an easy road. In fact, Jesus Himself tells us that, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). Even so, when trials come our way, Christians can be overcome with grief and strife and fail to see where God is in the middle of the storm. Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? by Ligon Duncan is full of soothing reminders about why we as Christians suffer, God’s purposes in suffering, and how we are called to respond when all around us seems to be giving way.
Duncan reminds us that we as Christians are told that we will face suffering in this fallen, broken world. Oftentimes, we will approach suffering with questions of “Why me?” – as if we are surprised that God would allow bad things to happen to us. Since we are told in Scripture that we will face trials, and we know that God works all things out together for our good (Romans 8:28), we should instead be asking ourselves, “How will I live life in light of this trial in a way that glorifies Christ?” God has promised that He will never leave us and that His sovereign hand is in all of our circumstances. We are called to suffer well and look to Christ in our suffering, for we know that there is a higher purpose for our trials.
Duncan also points out that our suffering produces character and hope in us, and while we are in the midst of our trials, Christ is there with us: “…And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you heard them from heaven…” (Nehemiah 9:27). Duncan also illustrates that God uses suffering to cause us to treasure Christ more than any earthly treasure that will ultimately turn to dust, just as Paul emulates in his letter to the church at Philippi: “For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Since there is a purpose God has for our suffering, Duncan exhorts us not to “waste” our suffering, for God uses our trials for our own good and for building up the Body of Christ.
Our Savior Jesus Christ is better able to sympathize with us in our suffering than any earthly being, for He came to earth as a man, suffered in temptation, and bore the wrath of God for our sins (Hebrews 2:17-18). Isaiah 53 outlines how “…He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Therefore, we are called to look to Christ when faced with trials, for we have a Savior Who understands our trials in a way that no one else on earth can. What a comfort to know that God will work out all things for good, and when we are in the storms of life we can go to Him without fear or hesitation – for He can empathize with us in a way that no one else can.
Written in a concise, four chapter format, Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? is a thought provoking, deeply encouraging read that I highly recommend for Christians in every season, whether you are facing trials now or are preparing for what lies ahead. You will find yourself coming back to this book time and again for reminders of Gospel truths of how God is in the midst of our suffering.