GLORIOUS RUIN:  HOW SUFFERING SETS YOU FREE  (Tullian Tchividjian, 206 pages)

Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy Graham and the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale Florida.  He writes out of his suffering in two areas:  1)  the very public divorce of his parents (yes, Billy Graham’s daughter is divorced – it happens to even the best people), and 2) the painful split of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after he became pastor.  Tchividjian was attacked mercilessly by old-time church members there who wanted him to continue the traditions of the former pastor (and if you’ve never suffered as a pastor…well, that’s another story).  So, when he talks about suffering, he’s a reliable source – he’s been through it.

I bought the book to read because of my own personal struggles right now.  Three acquaintances of mine passed away last week.  We’re struggling through some family issues (aren’t we all at one time or another?), I’m dealing with some health problems and recently had a friend walk away from our relationship.  I needed to put suffering into perspective.   This book has been a tremendous help.

The book is broken down into three parts:  The Reality of Suffering;  Confronting Suffering;  Saved by Suffering.

The author begins by pointing out the “required cheerfulness that characterizes many of our churches produces a suffocating environment of pat, religious answers to the painful, complex questions that riddle the lives of hurting people…this culture (in churches) of mandatory happiness actually promotes dishonesty and more suffering.”   In other words, churches should deal honestly with people’s suffering rather than minimizing it and making people feel guilty for experiencing it.

Tchividjian deals at length with the Old Testament personality of Job.   He concludes that “Job lost everything.  He could not fix what happened to him, much less stop or explain it.  In fact, he could barely hold on.  Thankfully, the good news of the gospel is not an exhortation from above to ‘hang on at all costs,’ or ‘grin and bear it’ in the midst of hardship.  No, the good news it that God is hanging on to you, and in the end, when all is said and done, the power of God will triumph over every pain and loss.”

We don’t need answers about our suffering as much as we need God’s presence in our suffering.  Information about suffering is OK, but information alone does not heal a wounded heart.  Information, even information about Jesus, does little to comfort the pain of an aching soul.

Suffering is inevitable.  Suffering is serious.  Suffering isn’t always your fault.  God does not always deliver us from suffering.  Suffering reveals to us what we really worship.

In a wonderful twist, Tchividjian presents and explains the presence and work of God’s grace in our suffering.  He uses grace to explain that the world is NOT a place of investment and return = do right and right things will happen.  He explains that “before we can even begin to grapple with the frustrations and tragedies of life in this world, we must do away with our faithless morality of payback and reward.”  That, clearing away the clutter of the nefarious idea of cosmic payback is a relief to us.

Tchividjian reminds us that suffering doesn’t always end in “victory and joy”.  Not every story ends like Job’s (where everything he lost was given back – plus some).

The author reminds us that we are never closer to the Cross of Christ than when we are suffering.  The gospel is for the sufferer.  Jesus suffered…and died for the sufferer.

In one of my favorites quotes from the book, Tchividjian says, God makes us cry ‘uncle’ so that we might cry ‘abba'” (Father).

This is a great book to go to for theologically sound, grace-based, and practical help with suffering.

~ by jackpickel on February 7, 2013.


  1. Well done. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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