Polishing God’s Monuments
Over the past week I have had the pleasure and pain of reading what is possibly the most moving work of theology I have ever read. If you know me, you are familiar with the fact that tears and I don’t usually see much of each other. But I cried through this whole book: in the living room in front of my wife, in the hotel room alone, on the airplane in front of a row full of (embarrassed) strangers. I cried because of the human pain that is chronicled here in excruciating detail, and I cried because of the sovereignty and supremacy of God that is celebrated here in tear-jerking and triumphant truth. I cried because in the face of almost overwhelming pain, hope radiated from this book – not because of some sentimental stupidity about the human spirit, but because of who our God was, is, and always will be.
Some variation of theological and/or practical questions about how God relates to human suffering is the kind of question I get the most as a pastor, and have the most as a person. This book is simply the most powerful and personal and pastoral answer to this question I have ever encountered. I found it to be massively encouraging for my own heart, and incredibly equipping as I think about ministering to others in their pain. The way it is written, interspersing chapters of straightforward and accessible theology with letters the author (a pastor) wrote to his church to update them on his daughter’s situation, makes it a compelling read. The way that he does not flinch from the (sometimes) difficult intersections between real truth and real life, the fact that he writes not as an observer but as an endurer, and the way his final word is always Scripture (not “I will believe only what I can understand” but “I will trust what God has revealed”) help us trust that his answers can bear the weight of our own life’s suffering.
I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that if you desire your love for Christ to stay hot until the end (an end along the way to which we are promised to encounter much suffering) and if you desire to have a ready word that can be used to strengthen the weak knees and feeble hearts of your brothers and sisters in the fires of their affliction – you simply must take this book and read!
I was going to include some representative quotes here to whet you appetite, but as I started looking through the book again, I had no idea where to start! So I’ll include only the book’s self-description:
Polishing God’s Monuments is the true story of a young woman and her devoted husband who face it all (and then some) as a baffling, mind-boggling illness hijacks their youth and shatters their dreams. It blends straightforward theology with the account of this young couple’s afflictions. A sober reality in the life of faith is that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” God’s people are buffeted in two ways: sometimes we suffer for the faith, and other times we suffer with faith. Either way, our faith remains a work in progress. In the midst of troubles, our emotions can vacillate between hope and despair, submission and rebellion. Our understanding can alternate between moments of comprehension and times of total confusion. This book confronts these issues head-on and offers believers biblical perspective, practical direction, and sustaining hope.
Take, read, and feast on the faithfulness of our God!