I like to look at the bright side of life, but we all have to deal with our share of trials.
When I had the opportunity recently to receive a free copy of the book “Stronger: How Hard Times Reveal God’s Greatest Power” by Clayton King to review, I hoped the book would help make me stronger to deal with the difficulties and sadness that are inherent during different seasons of life.
Reading the book did help prepare me for difficult times, but not by helping me find ways to be mentally and emotionally tougher to endure through those times. The focus is that, as a Christian, I should be leaning on God’s strength to get through hardships – and trusting in His purpose through those circumstances.
Of course, I would prefer to not have to go through difficulties at all. And when I do, I would like to emerge unscathed – like walking through fire without burning my feet.
However, this book points out on the back cover that “when we are in Christ, our deepest pain becomes the source of our greatest power, and our times of testing become our strongest testimony.”
King notes that hardships can leave scars, but those scars are part of our testimony. “Scars tell our stories,” he says. “They connect us back to a painful thing that left a mark on us. They connect us to other people who have scars of their own. They’re a testimony that we got hurt and we lived through it.”
He uses the greatest example, Jesus, to discuss how our scars play a role in our testimony. He notes: “Isn’t it interesting that after his own resurrection, Jesus himself bore the scars of the cross? And he made no attempt to hide them. In fact, he showcased them, revealed them, and invited others to look at them and to stretch out their hands to feel them. They were real. They proved something. They told a story of weakness, death, resurrection, and restoration.”
If Jesus didn’t get an exemption from the trials of life, I guess the rest of us can’t expect that either.
As King says, “If we all got an exemption from hard times, we would have no stories to tell and nothing of substance to hold on to. We could never encourage another living soul to press on through hard times…. So we might as well stop wishing for an exemption and start enjoying the presence of our Companion. In hard times, we must embrace the fear we’re feeling while listening in faith to what God is saying: I am with you, I am in you, and I am for you.”
So what about those times we wonder why bad things happen? King says, “What God wants to do in and through the difficult seasons of our lives is not to give us information but to give us understanding. God may never give you an intellectual understanding of your suffering…. Seldom will you find easily discernible ‘reasons’ for the depth or timing of your hardship. We live in a world where the kingdom of God has not yet been fully realized on earth, and in the meantime there are many things we can and must experience that we cannot make sense of with our intellect.”
But King points out, our hardships can, in turn, allow us to become a source of encouragement for others. As King asserts, “This broken world doesn’t need more ‘experts.’ What’s more helpful are broken people who are allowing God to heal them and make them stronger as a result of their weakness. Those kinds of people (like me and like you) can and will be used by God for the sake of helping others.”
This book deals with serious life and death circumstances, taken straight from King’s own life experiences. It was heavy reading at times, and it took me a while to read through it, but I’m glad I did.
I usually like to leave books in pristine condition, but I found myself folding down page corners as I read passages in this book so that I could refer back to them later.
In 10 chapters, the book walks through spiritual implications of hard times in a Christian’s life. It starts from brokenness in chapter one and humility in chapter two and works through to worship in chapter nine and finally glory in chapter 10. Along the way, the book frames a better understanding of how God uses all of these circumstances in the life of a Christian.
“Stronger: How Hard Times Reveal God’s Greatest Power” by Clayton King (affiliate link) is available at Amazon.com.
I received a free copy of the book “Stronger” by Clayton King from the publisher,
Baker Books, to facilitate my honest review. All opinions are my own.
This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.
Please refer to my disclosure statement for more information.