One of the topics that I’ve done a lot of reading on over the years, due to my own personal experience of suffering, is the very relevant topic of suffering. There are plenty of books out there on the theory of and theology of suffering and plenty of books full of testimonies of people have or are suffering. These are books that I’ve benefitted from but I really wish they didn’t have to be written. But I must say that this book made me cry and it’s maybe not one that you want to read, but it is definitely one that you must read!
In this book you hear the story of Matt Chandler, lead pastor of the Village Church in Texas. Out of the blue he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and told he would have two to three years to live. Joy in the sorrow is his story but also the story of other people in the Village Church who have been through some horrific things. But it is much more than a testimony book, it tells you how a lead pastor shepherded the flock through suffering and kept pointing them to the beauty of the gospel. Matt himself says that the people’s stories in this book have taught him, continue to teach him, how to walk with joy in the sorrow.
Maybe people have thought ‘why would a pastor be so open about his struggled, don’t that mean that he is exposing weakness?’ This is what Matt says…
“It doesn’t make any sense to try to hide suffering and brokenness, when it’s clearly a part of life in this world; and when it’s clearly a part of the gospel that Jesus is with us in the mess, in the storms, and in the pain… If you’re not real about the reality of sorrow, you end up creating guilt and shame in people around suffering.”
In this book you will hear stories of how husbands have lost wives, wives has lost husbands, near death experiences that have left vastest effects, the damage of broken families and addiction, the death of a one year old and the pain of multiple miscarriages.
But each of these stories doesn’t end in sorrow, every person telling their stories points the reader to the Bible and the verses that kept them strong in their sorrow and point you to the gospel of Jesus and the greater hope that we have in Him. Not every story in this book ends on a joyful note, but each of them ends on a real note. Each story tells the tale of how disciples of Jesus have been through times of trials and struggles but remain firm in their faith and desire to follow Christ.
I seriously recommend this book to you it will help you in your times of suffering, it will help you prepare for suffering and it will help you care for those who are suffering. It is a captivating book that makes you run to God in prayer. Joy in the sorrow is a real book that tells the story of real people in the thick of hard times, it will make you cry but it will also lead you to praise God for His goodness and faithfulness.
Please buy a copy of the book here, I would love to hear your thoughts on the book.
Matt Chandler is the Pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. The author of Explicit Gospel, Take Heart, and The Mingling of Souls, Matt also serves as President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network. He is married to Lauren and they have three children.