It's a long time since I read a book that I almost totally disagreed with. The author seems to have concocted a theory that sorrow is the path to rule and authority in the Glory. This is the theme of the whole book. The suffering saint is not to waste his sorrows but use them as a means of getting himself promoted through the ranks. Of course he supports his theory from various texts of Scripture - but taken out of context a verse can be made to mean almost anything - but fails to prove his case.
Right at the start the author attempts to lay a sure foundation for his future case by such syllogisms as the following: "There is no love without self-giving. There is no self-giving without pain. Therefore, there is no love without suffering." But it doesn't add up. The equation is not equal. Self-giving does not of necessity cause pain. Self-giving is a delight, a joy, and gives pleasure to so many.
Later in the book the author builds up his theory by suggesting that the greatest saints have been those who have suffered - and he quotes such people as Madam Guyon - but he fails to deal with the great men and women who didn't suffer. From this he develops his theme of brokenness: that the totally useless person - the broken person - is the one who God takes up and uses, and here he tries to link this with suffering, so that eventually he makes the following statement: "If God cannot shape one for his distinctive place in eternity without affliction, may this not explain why many people continue to suffer physical illness in spite of long continued prayer for healing?" Then he goes on: "Many wonder why, when a person seems most ready for fruitful service, God summons him home. This makes no sense unless God's purpose in life is not primarily for service in time but for God's eternal enterprises. God has used the circumstances of life, whether joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain, success or failure, to mature him for his exalted role in His future kingdom. When God has achieved this, there is little point in leaving him here any longer."
Such a statement seems hard to reconcile with the very many godly men and women who have lived to a great age. According to the author they only stayed here because they were not mature in love. And, of course, it follows that God was able to mature people quicker years ago because they died at an earlier age!
Finally, the author puts such stress on the benefit of suffering injury from others that the logical conclusion ought to be that Christians should go out of their way to be unkind, etc., to others as this will help their maturity - and thus quicker promotion for them through the ranks in heaven.
An unhelpful book to say the least!...Continua