snacbannersmall  

Weekly SNAC, 8 April 2018 - Book Review: Side by Side by Edward T. Welch

“God is pleased to use ordinary people, ordinary conversations, and extraordinary and wise love to do most of the heavy lifting in his kingdom."

God’s plan and methods may not seem to us to be the wisest and most effective - but he is in charge and it pleases him, so we should equip ourselves in the best way to carry out his work! I read this book recently with a few other women in our parish. We all found it encouraging, challenging and useful and I highly recommend it to everyone as we try to help bear each other’s burdens.

The book is divided into two parts:

Part 1 reminds us that we are needy and shows us how to become transparent and humble people, seeing our own hardships and sin, speaking openly to our Lord about them, and being willing and comfortable with asking others to pray for us and help us when needed. The chapters are clearly laid out and written efficiently so it is easy to read. Many topics are addressed, including: acknowledgement of our fragile and uncertain lives; the importance of understanding our own hearts and emotions; the recognition that the greatest need of our heart, and the only path to true joy, is to know God accurately and follow him; the connection between suffering and sin; the blessings experienced from confessing our sin and how to ask for help well from others.

Part 2 helps us to learn how to bear the burdens of others, accepting that we are needed by others and commanded by Jesus to follow his example of service and love. Various aspects of helping others are covered: understanding the power of God’s Spirit as we help others; the importance of (and guidelines for) greeting everyone in our church with familial warmth as our brothers and sisters; learning how to have thoughtful conversations even with limited time; how to appreciate others as God’s image-bearers; how to demonstrate true compassion; how to be alert to Satan’s devices in suffering; how to help each other confront sin as of utmost importance (with humility and patience) and how to become so familiar with God’s story so that it shapes us and others and can bring comfort during hard times.

I particularly found useful the teaching on prayer which appears in several chapters throughout the book. We were taught how to pray during times of trouble, how to use the Psalms to cry out to God from our hearts, how to make the Psalms our own, even growing able to write our own psalms where we can pour our complaints out to the Lord, reviewing God’s promises and his faithfulness, finding our rest and comfort in Jesus and then being able to let others know how they can also find rest and comfort. It was also interesting to reflect upon how to ask for prayer from other people - to say what we are finding hard, to attach Scripture to prayer requests to ensure we are holding on to God’s purposes and promises and also so that the other person might know best how to pray for us. I was reminded that it is a real privilege to pray for others, and a great joy and encouragement to be thankful together later for how God has answered prayer.I particularly found useful the teaching on prayer which appears in several chapters throughout the book. We were taught how to pray during times of trouble, how to use the Psalms to cry out to God from our hearts, how to make the Psalms our own, even growing able to write our own psalms where we can pour our complaints out to the Lord, reviewing God’s promises and his faithfulness, finding our rest and comfort in Jesus and then being able to let others know how they can also find rest and comfort. It was also interesting to reflect upon how to ask for prayer from other people - to say what we are finding hard, to attach Scripture to prayer requests to ensure we are holding on to God’s purposes and promises and also so that the other person might know best how to pray for us. I was reminded that it is a real privilege to pray for others, and a great joy and encouragement to be thankful together later for how God has answered prayer.

Unfortunately, I can’t lend you my copy as it is on Kindle (currently only $8!) but it is readily available from the Book Depository or Reformers Bookshop etc. Please read it so that you will know how to help me with godly love and wisdom when I ask you!

Heather Veitch