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Monday, May 23, 2016

"Seasons of Waiting" (Betsy Childs Howard)

TITLE: Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed (The Gospel Coalition)
AUTHOR: Betsy Childs Howard
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, (128 pages).

Waiting can be hard. It can be worrying. Sometimes, it can even make one sick, so says Proverbs 13:12 "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." Between the question and the answer, waiting is that middle way in which one can only remain in hope or worry with despair. This book is essentially about this phase. It is about trusting God to provide even as we wait out the tensions of unknowing. Author Betsy Childs Howard shares with readers five life stories where waiting is not only difficult, it is terribly painful.

The first story is about a single woman named Katy who wanted so badly to be married, to have children, and to have a nice family. Yet how is she going to start a family without a husband? How is she going to have children when her biological age window for child bearing is closing? How is she going to get married when she does not even have a boyfriend? How long will Katy have to wait?

The second story is about Christine who had trouble conceiving. After a miscarriage and constant inability to conceive, Christine suffered from endometriosis that was so serious that doctors recommended hysterectomy. That would spell the end of any pregnancy. The next option was adoption. Yet, that too was challenging. With infertility came disappointment. With disappointment came despair. With despair came pain. How long will they have to wait?

The third is about Tim who had been diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Despite being 29 years old, he does not have many years left. He started appreciating his family more. He struggled with the hope of healing amid the poor prognosis of any prolonged survival. How can Tim wait well?

The fourth is about a young missionary couple named Chris and Mandy who served faithfully in foreign lands. Yet, their children are "third culture" kids where they are not entirely sure where home is. Is home where their parents come from? Is it where they were born? Is it the country or mission field where they are residing now? How long do they have to wait for a place that they can call home?

The fifth story is about Susan struggling with her teenage son named Martin. Trapped by drugs, dropped out of school, and suffered from grief and emotional uncertainties, Martin went in and out of rehab and relapses. How long will she have to wait for Martin to be fully restored?

Each story comes with a biblical parallel where Bible characters are brought to life to us in their own unique waiting circumstances. The suffering Church waits for God's glory to be revealed. Sarah suffered through her period of barrenness. Paul groaned as he struggle with his thorn. Peter encourages the Church that are experiencing hard times. The Parable of the Prodigal Son reveals the deep longing of the father for the ungrateful son to return.

In each story, Howard takes special care to point us to Scripture, saying that the Bible already contains stories of people waiting through very difficult times. We are not alone. We can look to the biblical examples to show us that just as God cared for them, God will also be caring for us in our unique circumstances. Wherever she gets the chance, the author would make the case that our story is a retelling of God's story, so that just like Christ who placed his hope in God the Father while on earth, we can do the same. This is a deeply encouraging book for those of us going through difficult times of waiting. The good news is this: The waiting is only temporary.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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