Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Gospel in Hard Times by Joni and Friends

This is not a light and fluffy group Bible study. Exploring suffering is serious business and hits home to so many. It is not a theoretical Bible study either. There are videos available for each lesson that have testimonies by real people who have suffered real tragedy. (Links to the videos are in the text.) This is the kind of Bible study to be shared in a group of trusted friends as I think there will be times of deep ministry.

The format of each study includes a story to be read before the group meeting and then reflection questions. Next is a Bible lesson with discussion questions for the group session. The opportunity to watch the video follows with more discussion questions. Then there are suggestions for prayer and a final action plan, an activity to deepen the impact of the lesson. There is also a good section for leaders at the back of the book.

I found these lessons to be really thought provoking. The discussion questions made me think about how my relationship with God has been during hard times. I really appreciate the insights included in the lessons. For example, one lesson mentioned that emotions are like pain receptors are for the body. They alert us when something is wrong. Teaching was included as to understanding what is indicated and how to make it through. There are also good insights into how Jesus is our example in suffering and how God uses suffering.

This study does not pull back from the hard to understand realities of tragedy, even tragedies that happen to committed Christians. It does not gloss over the hard questions, like why God heals some and not others. It also draws attention to the need for churches to welcome and minister to those with severe needs. At the core of the study is Joni Eareckson Tada. A quadriplegic for over fifty years, suffering from chronic pain and a bout of breast cancer, she knows how God uses suffering. Her story is included in the lesson seven.

You can watch the book trailer here.

You can find out more about Joni and Friends at .

My rating; 4/5 stars.

Joni and Friends is an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Founded in 1979, their mission is to communicate the gospel and equip Christ-honoring churches worldwide to evangelize and disciple people affected by disability. The organization authors numerous books including titles such as the Beyond Suffering Bible, Real Families, Real Needs, and a series of church resources entitle The Irresistible Church.
Pat Verbal, MA, former senior manager of publishing and resources at Joni and Friends, draws from her many years of experience as a director of Christian education and school administrator. She served as managing editor/contributor for the Beyond Suffering Bible, and her other writings include Life in the Balance, Special Needs Ministry for Children, and Beyond Suffering: A Christian View on Disability Ministry.

New Growth Press, 160 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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