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Monday, August 26, 2013

"Wounded Women of the Bible" (Dena Dyers & Tina Samples)

TITLE: Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts
AUTHOR: Dena Dyers and Tina Samples
PUBLISHER:  Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2013, (248 pages).

In times of trouble, do we fight or take flight? When wounded, do we turn inward or look outward? How do we find hope amid hopeless situations and broken relationships? Written by two authors who have personally experienced what it means to be wounded by people close to them, this book looks at more than 14 women in the Bible, all of whom have one thing in common: Woundedness.

The different facets of hurts are meticulously highlighted. Beginning with the famous story of two prostitutes who shared a close relationship, living together, bearing their child together, and eventually fighting each other for the custody of a living baby. With astute observations, Dyer and Samples show readers how both women experience the joys of being a mother and the sorrows of losing a child. The first woman discovered the dead child she had personally smothered. The second woman discovered the horror of a dead baby next to her before realizing that it was not her baby. Both knew what it means to lose a child.

Abigail suffered the abuses of bad tempered Nabal, who later on went on to irreverently anger King David. Dinah was sexually violated, and that one incident led to tragic consequences not just for the perpetrator, but also the evil that her brothers were led to commit. Ruth's grief at the losing of her husband continued into an unknown future as she voluntarily chose to stay with her mother in law. Hagar was brought up as a slave, treated like a slave, and eventually expelled like a slave. Jochebed at great personal risk, chose to protect the baby Moses, and had to battle any emotional attachments by letting the baby escape the clutches of Pharaoh in a papyrus basket. The two sisters of Bethlehem had different ways of serving Jesus, and at the wise words of Jesus, were taught a great lesson of what devotion means. There is the story of the blame game played by Adam and Eve. There were several cases of women who struggle with barrenness, and how they overcame. Sarah's desire was fulfilled because of God's promise. Rebekah and Hannah drew strength from God through prayer.  All these and many more assure us in the modern world that we are not alone in modern troubles, loneliness, barrenness, isolation, or trials. There are many cases in the Bible that ordinary men and women in the Bible struggle as much, if not more.

So What?

I remember fondly the words of Helen Keller: "All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming." This book contains testimony after testimony that it is true in biblical times, and it is also true in modern times. There are five things that I take away from this book.

First, we are never really alone in any suffering. Just look at the wounded women in the Bible and we will get lots of examples that there are many who have suffered. The story of Mary and Martha also reminds me of how Jesus himself cried when the sisters cried at the loss of Lazarus. Every time we think we are suffering alone, read the stories of the women who have gone through pain and grief. See how they throw themselves at the feet of Jesus, or prostrated themselves in the temple of the LORD. Not only that, Dyer and Samples make it very personal and contemporary with many stories they have encountered through their friends and loved ones. Take the story of Nichole who suffers from Crohn's disease at the age of four, and how the mother anchors the whole family with faith in God. Eventually, God gave them the faith to have faith.

Second, we may not be free of problems in this life, but we can maintain a faith in God that can set us free. Whenever we face a problem, we almost always have a choice. Either we face it boldly to overcome it, or we retreat from it and let it overwhelm us. In Christ the Rock we can stand, for Jesus can overcome. There is the story of Amy who encourages desperate women to persevere and not quit.

Third, great helpers are often people who have endured hurts of their own. Dyer and Samples say it well that "hurt people hurt people." At the same time, hurt people know what it means to be hurt, and through their healing, they know what it means to be healed. The authors weave in their own stories of hurts and healings, giving readers something to identify with and to be assured that the book is both authentic, which in itself can be very therapeutic.

Four, God is always with us, whether we feel it or not. I am encouraged by Hagar, who in spite of the harsh treatment by Sarah, is blessed by God. It reminds me that God is fair and just, and does not judge us according to skin colour or race, but loves us all. For God so loved the world, not just a part of the world, or any one particular ethnic race. God loves all, and He promises to be with all his disciples.

Five, it is not what is happening to us that matters, but how we respond that matters more. It reminds me too of Chuck Swindoll's wise words: "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." Ruth could have retreated into oblivion at the death of her husband. Yet, in choosing to go ahead and be faithful to her mother in law, God honours her faith and blesses her with a husband, a child, and eventually becoming the great grandmother of the greatest king Israel ever had: David.

I recommend this book for anyone, not just women, who are facing struggles of faith or doubt. Whether it is from the biblical examples of the wounded women of the Bible, real life illustrations of modern people, or personal stories of the authors' own experiences, there is something for everyone, if not, most people. The path to healing must be through the eyes of the needle of wounds and pain. It may be hard for many of us, but it is a reminder that what is impossible with people, does not mean it is impossible with God. In fact, with God, all things are possible.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Kregel Publications without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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