A few months ago I heard about an upcoming book from Moody Publishers, a biography on the wife of Charles Spurgeon. Naturally I was excited as that sounded exactly like the kind of thing I should be reading and talking about. I went on Amazon and set up a preorder and then, on a whim, sent off a note through the book’s website to see if I might get to talk with the author for the podcast.
Not only were they able to arrange an interview with the author, Ray Rhodes Jr., but they were also gracious enough to send me a review copy to read ahead of time and prepare. I wound up absolutely loving the book, and still purchasing another copy to give to my mom.
This book is a detailed and well-resourced biography, but it is also a devotional in the life of someone who knew a great deal of both joy and sadness, success and suffering, and who walked through all of it by God’s grace through faith. The book is wonderfully detailed both with lots of notes referring to other sources for the interested researcher, as well as many pictures of locations and people surrounding the Spurgeons and their work to minister to the heart of the city.
The book is chronological but not strictly so, and focuses on different threads of events within a particular issue in particular chapters rather than trying to be strictly chronological. This makes it a little easier to understand how different events work together, as the author revisits where one event started to talk about how another one began.
I can’t recommend this book enough, and if you are looking for a gift for someone who enjoys reading this is a wonderful choice. You can follow the link below to an Amazon page to order, but of course there are many sources you can purchase this book from:
I want to again thank all of you who have been patient through this last hiatus, and especially for those of you close to me who have been actively praying for and ministering to me during this time. This was not a “I’m just really busy” hiatus. I mentioned in the last episode that there was some turmoil ongoing, and unfortunately it ended in the worst possible way: my wife and I are no longer married. I have no intention of divulging more information than that, but to answer the questions I know many of you concerned will have: yes, this is the end of a process that involved church elders and it is something that was not entered into lightly in any way. I will not say more than that, out of respect for privacy. Those of you who do know us, I appreciate your constant prayers and the loving support that you all have shared through this.
I’ve waited to continue this podcast and blog until after everything was officially finalized. I plan to move forward continuing to trust God in my darkest times, continuing to pray for Jessica, and continuing to rely on the support of His people. I am particularly grateful for the godly men and women who have gathered around me to minister to me through all this.
The fact is that this has been a deeply tragic event for me, and I have struggled with understanding it and with my own emotions, both in trying to figure out exactly how I should feel and think, as well as finding constructive ways to work through my deeper feelings. I have been hurt down to my deepest parts, and I have lost my partner. The pain I have had to endure, the sadness and anger, has been of a kind I can scarcely hope to describe meaningfully.
But as Paul said in 1 Thessalonians, I do not grieve as a person who has no hope. Through all of this, God has held me steady and been true to His promise to provide a way of escape from the temptation to sin. I picked this sermon because the chapter it is from, Lamentations 3, was a strength to me in this dark time. It is a reminder that even though God ordains the darkness, it ultimately serves to the purpose of greater joy when the light comes.
I won’t say that the light has reached me yet, at least in this matter. I will say that God is good, and God is gracious, and I will trust Him with each new step in life. To my listeners who have similar struggles, I would say to you: Do the same. Trust in the goodness and mercy of God.
I have had a few people talk with me about this that clearly expected me to have become embittered towards Jessica in particular, and towards the institution or concept of marriage in general. But I have no intention of letting a root of bitterness grow down into my heart towards either, for several reasons: Firstly, because that would be an incredibly selfish position to take, that would make my marriage all about what I want and what I get out of it, rather than glorify God or honor my wife even in the aftermath of all this; secondly, because I am aware of the ways in which my own sinfulness has contributed to this regardless of other circumstances and such an attitude would be completely unrepentant and un-Christian on my part; and thirdly, because I have not become a different person as a result of this. I still desire to represent Jesus with the way I live and work and speak. I still want to grow in love, and in the grace and knowledge of God–even more now, I would say. I still want to put my sin to death.
On a purely personal level…this has been the most tragic time I’ve walked through in my life. I am deeply grateful to those who have gathered around me during this time, to hold me up in my weakness, to remind me of my true strength in Jesus, and to pour out love onto one who was feeling deeply unloved. But this has been the darkest moment of my life, and I have had to continually turn to prayer and to the strength of my brothers and sisters to help me deal with the enormous weight I have felt upon my shoulders. I have been wrestling day by day with the myriad ways I have sinned and contributed, and having to drag it to the foot of the cross each time. There has been no time for self-pity.
All of this may seem very vague in a sense to many, and honestly it should. Those who need to know more details of my and Jessica’s personal lives know them. To the rest of the world, I would simply ask for prayer. I intend to press forward into Jesus regardless of anything else.
To those listening who are facing darkness, for whom hard times come hard and fast, and who are feeling the weight of despair on their shoulders: I want to urge you, do not hesitate. Do not hide in the dark, because there you will only find more of what afflicts you. Turn to Christ, and run to Him. Make yourself and your struggles known to His people, to those who can love you and gather close to minister to you in those times. The reason the Scriptures are so full of good texts to apply to suffering is because suffering is something that all humans have in common as long as we live in this world. Trust the goodness of God even in your darkest times, and do not hide your struggles. Drag them to the light! Leave them at the foot of the cross, and do it every day! Trust to the renewed grace of God every morning, and never believe that God is tired of you, or that His church has better things to do. This is what it is for: to weep with those who are weeping, and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. We are called simply to trust Him in all things, and that is all I can do in this time of deep pain.