By Lewis B. Smedes
Harold Shaw Publishers
Wheaton, Illinois
Reviewed by Clifford Goldstein, Editor, Adult Bible Study Guide

Smedes’ book, as the title suggests, deals with the perennial question that believers ask regarding the toils and trials of this life, even a life that is hid with God in Christ, even a life where all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, even a life where God promises that I am with you always even unto the end of the world. How does a Christian live with these promises—promises that, in a sense say that it’s all right when, in fact, at least from our perspective, it’s all wrong?

Of course, if anyone had the answer to that he’d be more than a prophet. The fact is we don’t know. Smedes makes no claims to the contrary: Early on, he writes: I do not want to mislead you. I have no bag of religious tricks to make everything turn out well for you. Thanks, but one would have to be incredibly gullible to think that he did.

Nevertheless, his book does come across as being written by someone who passionately cares about the questions he asks. And time and again, in each situation, he comes back to the gist of the book, which is about grace. God’s grace, and how it impacts our lives in each situation we confront, the idea being, no matter what happens, my grace is sufficient for thee.

All in all, though not a life-changing book (at least for me), Smedes’ book does in a very pastoral and caring manner deal with issues that all of us face at home, at work, in marriage, in church, on the street corner. He doesn’t just deal with these issues intellectually; most people’s problems are not intellectual; they are emotional, spiritual, personal, and here’s where he does a good job with the book. He touches where people hurt; and, perhaps, for some, his gentle strokes might just be what they need.

No doubt, anyone reading it will come away with something helpful that they didn’t have going in.

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January–March, 2000

Grace