A Pathway through suffering to the heart of God


Nancy Guthrie

Tyndale House Publishers, 2002, 2004, 165 pp.   ISBN 1-4143-0126-X

This is a wonderful healing book for anyone who has ever been hurt by life.  Nancy and David Guthrie lost two children under 6-months old to a rare incurable disease.  Her story was written up in TIME magazine (July 16, 2001) and Christianity Today (July 9, 2000).  Nancy describes how God met her through very practical and comforting insights from the book of Job.  This is a very readable and encouraging story.  A Bible study guide is included. 


“So many people are afraid to bring up my loss.  They don’t want to upset me.  But my tears are the only way I have to release the deep sorrow I feel.  I tell people, ‘Don’t worry about crying in front of me, and don’t be afraid that you will make me cry!  Your tears tell me you care, and my tears tell you that you’ve touched me in a place that is meaningful to me and I will never forget your willingness to share my grief.’” (10)


“In fact, those who shed their tears with me show me we are not alone.  It often feels like we are carrying this enormous load of sorrow, and when others shed their tears with me, it is as if they are taking a bucketful of sadness and carrying it for me.  It is, perhaps, the most meaningful thing anyone can do for me.” (10)


“Part of being human is that when you lose something or someone that is valuable to you, you agonize over that loss, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Your tears do not reflect a lack of faith.” (12)


“When our skin is pricked by a thorn, what comes out is what’s inside: blood.  When our lives are pricked by difficulty, what comes out is what’s inside.  For some of us, it is selfishness, pride, bitterness, and anger that come seeping out.  For others, it is the fruit of the Spirit....” (17)


“Genuine worship, though, is when the words that flow out of our lips and the works that flow out of our lives glorify God and honor him for who he is and what he has done.  We worship when we reflect his glory—his character and likeness—to others in the way we live.” (17-18)


“I think the key to Job’s ability to keep from blaming God is in the first line of his story which says that Job ‘feared God.’” (30)


“Have you ever noticed that people who suffer are marked with a beauty, a deepening, a transformation?  This only occurs, however, when they enter the suffering and look around for God in the midst of it.  Otherwise they are marked with bitterness and emptiness.” (34-5)


“Why has God allowed so much suffering in your life?  Ultimately, the purpose is not to disfigure you for life but to mold you into a person who thinks and acts and looks like Christ.”  “Sometimes it requires pain to refine our character and to remove our selfish, sinful attitudes.  Pain can do that.  Or, pain can make us bitter.” (38)


“From what I know of Scripture, I believe that we have the ability to bring glory to God in how we respond and deal day by day with this difficulty.  I believe that the purpose of Hope’s short life, and my life, was and is to glorify God.” (52)


“Instead of continuing to ask, ‘Why?’ would you change your question to, ‘For what purpose?’” (53)


“I have come to the place where I believe a yearning for heaven is one of the purposes and one of the privileges of suffering and of losing someone you love.” (57)


“I will have two children waiting for me there.  I now see in a much fuller way that this life is just a shadow of our real life—of eternal life in the presence of God.” (58)


“The righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time.  And no one seems to care or wonder why.  No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.  For the godly who die will rest in peace.” (59, Isaiah 57:1-2)


“The only real tragedy is a life that ends without the hope of eternal life in the presence of God.” (59)


“We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies!  The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead.  He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.” (60, 2 Corinthians 5:4-5, The Message)


“I’ve learned that every person’s effort to acknowledge my loss-no matter how small, no matter how much time has passed—is significant and remembered.” (65)


“God didn’t explain.  He didn’t reveal his master plan.  Instead, he revealed himself, and in the midst of his awesome presence, Job’s questions were not answered—they simply disappeared.”  (72)


“Suffering is a mystery and Job came to respect the mystery.  Job came to understand that because he knew who God is, he can accept what God gives—even when he didn’t understand it.”  “He is God.  He is Creator and we are the created.  God does not owe us an explanation.” (72)


“We tend to think that if we only knew why we were suffering, we would be able to bear it.  But would we?”  “Like Job, we often cannot see the hidden purpose of God.  Still, we can determine to be faithful and keep walking toward him in the darkness.” (73)


“I wish it has been a ... onetime sacrifice.  But...it hasn’t gotten any easier.” (78)


We ask God with great boldness for what we want and then add a P.S. at the end, ‘If It be your will.’  But shouldn’t we switch that around? 


“Shouldn’t we cry out to God with boldness and passion and persistence in a prayer that says, ‘God, would you please accomplish your will?  Would you give me a willing heart to embrace your plan and your purpose?  Would you mold me into a vessel that you can use to accomplish what you have in mind?’  And then, perhaps we could add a tiny P.S. that says, ‘If that includes healing, we will be grateful.’” (79-80)


“Isn’t real faith revealed more through pursuing God and what he wants than through pursuing what we want?” (80)


“We often hear people talk about the ‘victorious Christian life.’  But isn’t the life of a Christian really more about bending the knee, humbling ourselves, and taking up a cross?  Jesus said it is.” (810


“We know God more fully because we’ve experienced him more fully through our sorrow.” (86)


“And it is uniquely through suffering that we can find our way to the very heart of God.  In fact, there is no other pathway that can take us there.” (87)


“God wants to use the difficulties in your life not to punish you or to hurt you but to draw you to himself.” (89)


“And for you and me, as we seek to find God in the midst of our pain, the message is the same—Jesus.  Don’t be afraid as you face the future.  Jesus is coming.” (96)


“We have the entire message, everything God wants us to know, in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus himself is the ultimate articulation of God’s love for you and for me.  Nothing else is needed.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  Jesus is everything God wants to say to us.” (97)


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