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Noteworthy books

Notable Books | Four Christian books that deal with suffering reviewed by Susan Olasky

Through the Dark Woods: A Young Woman's Journey Out of Depression

Content: This is a very good book about depression and Swinney is a fine young British writer. She weaves information, advice, and biblical wisdom into the story of her struggle with depression.

Gist: Swinney deals with some issues that are especially important to Christians who suffer from depression, including the discomfort they can feel at church. She writes, "What I most need when I am depressed, is for the church to be a community"-and she shows churches how to be that.

When Grief Comes: Finding Strength for Today and Hope for Tomorrow

Content: Neely draws from his more than 40 years of pastoral and personal experiences to provide insight into the grieving process, whether from the sudden death of a son, which he and his wife experienced, or from death after a long illness.

Gist: He warns the well-meaning that silent companionship can be more comforting than many words, and encourages the grieving to look for hope and God's tender mercies amid their suffering.

Life's Healing Choices: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits

Content: Baker is a pastor at Saddleback Church and founder of Celebrate Recovery, a recovery program that consists of eight "healing choices" based on the Beatitudes. His chapters contain explanations of the steps, along with first-person stories from the program.

Gist: Churches and individuals wanting an explicitly Christian program to help break addiction's bonds will appreciate this well-tested one that has helped hundreds of thousands of people at Saddleback and other churches.

How We Make Our Kids Angry

Content: In Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 Paul warns fathers not to exasperate or embitter their children. Working from these verses, Roger Cross shows common ways parents wrongly make their kids angry. Chapters cover topics like boundaries, favoritism, and forcing your faith.

Gist: Cross talks about the "V of Love," which is a useful way to visualize discipline: Parents should increase liberty as children move from toddler to teen, but they often do the reverse-causing anger. Cross packs a lot of practical wisdom into a skinny book.


Jennifer Marshall, director of domestic policy issues at the Heritage Foundation, has attained professional success but is still single. In Now and Not Yet: Making Sense of Single Life in the Twenty-First Century (Multnomah, 2007), Marshall addresses the concerns of Christian young women who "haven't been avoiding marriage; they're more likely feeling confused that marriage has avoided them."

Marshall interviewed and surveyed women in their 20s and 30s with good educations and jobs who want to marry. They may be perceived as "career women" but they don't see themselves that way. They purposefully seek to redeem the time and be content in the present, while hoping for a different future.

Marshall does a good job of describing shifting expectations, outside pressures, and insecurities. She also draws a portrait of single women who "live deliberately" and "view life as an adventure and not a pity party." This balance makes the book useful reading both for older folks who want to better understand and support their young, single friends, and for singles who will be encouraged to be calm and carry on.


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