Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book: "The Blessing of Adversity"

TITLE: The Blessing of Adversity: Finding Your God-given Purpose in Life's Troubles
AUTHOR: Barry C. Black
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011, (256 pages).

This book is gentle, encouraging, and a pleasure to read. What strikes me is the steadfastly persuasive way in which the author overcomes trials and tribulations; pain and suffering. Backed by more than 27 years as a military chaplain, and the current chaplain of the US Senate, Black serves up dish after dish of encouragement. Using brilliant stories to illustrate his points, Black's style is like a devotional. It is also inviting, not forceful. Firm and not fiery.

The thrust of the book is easy to follow. This book is not about positive thinking. It is about keeping our focus on God despite the negativity. The Blessing of Adversity does not mean constantly needing to stay positive in a journey peppered with one adversity after another. Far from that. It prepares one for adversity. It equips one before adversity. It encourages one during adversity.

There are three key audiences Black wants to address. The first audience is for those currently going through adversity. He helps them to see hopeful possibilities in the midst of impossible hopeless situations. For example, he says that there are benefits when one learns from suffering and brokenness. Similarly, suffering should not be 'wasted.'  Secondly, he writes to those yet to encounter adversity. By 'Avoiding the Sources of Trouble' one can avoid piling unnecessary hot coals upon one's own head. Thirdly, he addresses to those who are able to turn things around, to turn adversity into advantage. This last part is possible when one learns to 'supersize' one's faith and to build a 'storm-proofed' life.

My Comments
I appreciate the way Black harnesses his own life struggles to illustrate faith, hope and lessons for the purpose of teaching others to endure and to learn from adversity. This reflects an authenticity that modern readers deeply appreciate. He supports his points strongly with his wide repertoire of Old and New Testament examples from the Bible. He points a way out for those who seems lost and discouraged.

I like the structure of this book. Beginning with a big idea, the author explains the reason for the need to cling on to God. At the end of every chapter, he summarizes his main points with a 'action plan.' The chapters are short, and easy enough for anyone to finish a chapter in between meetings in the office, during lunch breaks, or pockets of spare time throughout the day. If adversity is your struggle right now, along with the Bible, the Blessing of Adversity can accompany your daily bread.


Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. This review is freely offered without any obligation to give a positive reply.

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