Twenty (Favorite) Books in 2020- Part 2
I set out to write a single post about my “Twenty (Favorite) Books in 2020” and quickly realized that the post was too long. If you want to read Part 1, you can do that here. This post contains books 11 through 20.
11. “Hope When it Hurts” by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton
When you go through a difficult season, you discover the value of having mentors and friends who point you to Jesus and to truth. As difficult as this year has been, the love and support of godly men and women has been incredible. One of my friends sent me this book in the midst of a storm and I cannot recommend it highly enough!
Because he cares, God wants to take your anxieties. And because he is God, his hands are big enough to hold what yours cannot. So we are told to “cast” our anxieties “on him”. This is an intentional throwing off of what weighs us down onto God through prayer- a conscious effort, moment by moment, to live not by fear but by faith. He alone is our source of strength when our bodies give way, he alone is our source of help when grief sends its crushing blow, he alone is our wisdom when we have limited vision and life-altering decisions to make; he alone is our rock when earthly security is shaken.
12. “Awe” by Paul David Tripp
This book was recommended by another mentor/friend. In a time when I desperately needed hope beyond my circumstances, this book encouraged me to lift my gaze and to stand in awe of God. It gave new sight to my weary eyes and I began to live in awe of Him and as a result seeking to honor him more fully. I will share two quotes from this book. The first gives a sense of what this book is about. The second seems like it could come directly from my journal. It has been a hard year. But when I read my journal, it is mostly scripture. The Word of God has sustained me and living in awe of Him has been my lifeline.
You and I will only rest in situations over which we have no control if we are in awe of the One who controls them all for his glory and for our good.
This has been a very convicting chapter for me to write. As I have been writing, I have been going through one of the most spiritually stressful and discouraging periods of my ministry life. I have tried to make good choices and have failed more than once. I have been under attack by people who loved me. I’ve had moments when I just wanted to quit. I have thought, “Forget ministry. Forget the church. I just want to go where no one knows me and live a quiet life! I’m tired of trying to help others only to get attacked myself. I’m tired of the burdens and the stress. I’m tired of uncomfortable conversations and tough decisions. I’m tired of private things being made public. I’m tired of praying and praying and nothing changes. In fact, things only seem to get worse. I’m tired of feeling alone and misunderstood.
13. “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” by Lysa Terkuerst
Technically, I read this book in 2019, but it has continued to be an encouragement for me in 2020, so it makes the list. I don’t have any quotes from this one, but I resonate with Lysa’s words and thoughts in this book. When life leaves us reeling, it’s crucial to remember that God is still sovereign and he is still good. He always has purpose in what he allows to come our way.
14. “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” by Lysa Terkuerst
One of the things that has marked my reading in 2020 is the way one book leads me to the next. I had not stopped ruminating on “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” when I saw this new book by Lysa Terkuerst and I knew I wanted to read it. I do not want to be a person trapped in bitterness. I want to be characterized by gracious forgiveness. But this takes effort and God’s grace. This book was the right mix of encouraging and challenging. It’s hard to simply share one quote, because I highlighted my way through this book!
We are making sure not one bit of the hurt done to us is multiplied by us.
15. “Conversation Peace: The Power of Transformed Speech” by Mary Kassian
I read this book along with several other women in an online summer Bible study. It was beautifully convicting! It is a workbook with an emphasis on scripture informing our speech. Our words should be used to build others up and not tear them down. One of the verses that we were encouraged to memorize is one that I memorized many years ago. So since I am unable to find my hard copy of the book at the moment, I will share this verse with you instead.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
16. “Hinds Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard
My sister recommended this book to me reminding me of how our Dad appreciated this book. I can identify with Much-Afraid, the heroine of this story. I too do not want to be content with staying where I’m at, but desire to be changed and made more like Christ. Even when this means walking through the most severe storm.
When she remembered this, Much-Afraid thought with a little shiver in her heart, “He will never be content until he makes me what he is determined that I ought to be,” and because she was still Much-Afraid and not yet ready to change her name, she added with a pang of fear, ” I wonder what he plans to do next, and if it will hurt very much indeed?”
17. “Becoming Elisabeth Elliot” by Ellen Vaughn
If I had to pick my absolute favorite book of 2020 (besides the Bible!!), it would be this one! I have always loved reading missionary stories and have been fascinated by Elisabeth Elliot and the story of her husband Jim and the other men who lost their lives in Ecuador in 1956 when they were trying to bring Christ to the Waodani Tribe. But reading this biography has given me a deeper desire to faithfully follow Christ no matter the cost.
The only problem to be solved, really is that of obedience. As Betty noted, futility- that sprit-numbing sense of despair- does not come from the thing itself, but from the demand to know “why”. It is the question of the child, like little Valerie’s endless “whys?” in the jungle. For Betty, the adult question is “what?” As in, Lord, show me what You want me to do. And I’ll do it. And in that acceptance- “I’ll obey whatever it is”- there is peace.
18. “Suffering is Never for Nothing” by Elisabeth Elliot
After reading “Becoming Elisabeth Elliot”, I wanted to read more from Elisabeth Elliot. This book was a balm for my soul, because when you go through suffering, there is a human need to know that it has purpose, that it’s not for nothing. Knowing that God will take every bit of heartache and suffering in my life and use it for His Glory and my good is a truth I need to rest in.
And I’ve come to see that it’s through the deepest suffering that God has taught me the deepest lessons. And if we’ll trust Him for it, we can come through to the unshakable assurance that He’s in charge. He has a loving purpose. And He can transform something terrible into something wonderful. Suffering is never for nothing.
19. “New Morning Mercies” by Paul David Tripp
I have been reading this daily devotional for three years now and am often amazed at how the devotional of the day is exactly what I need. This was one that was a perfect timing reminder.
Fear lives and rules in the heart of a believer who has forgotten God’s sovereignty and grace. If left to myself, I should be afraid. There are many trials, temptations, dangers, and enemies in this fallen world that are bigger and more powerful than me. I have to deal with many things that are outside my control. But the message of the gospel is that I haven’t been left to myself, that Immanuel is with me in sovereign authority and and powerful grace. He rules with perfect wisdom over all the circumstances and locations that would make me afraid. In grace, he blesses me with what I need to face what he has decided to put on my plate. I am never – in anything, anywhere, at any time – by myself. I never arrive on scene first. I never step into a situation that exists outside his control. I never move beyond the reach of his authority. He is never surprised by where I end up or by what I am facing. He never leaves me to the limited resources of my own wisdom, strength, and righteousness. He never grows weary with protecting and providing for me. He will never abandon me out of frustration. I do not need to be afraid.
20. “The Bible” by God himself
When I say that the Bible has been my lifeline this year, I am not overstating it. The Psalms particularly have helped me to have a language to express my heartbreak, my fears and my sorrow. Through His Word, the Lord has strengthened me, given me joy, protected me and lifted my head. I have copied Psalm after Psalm into my journal along with other meaningful passages. There is nothing quite like the Word of God.
O Lord, I call upon you: hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!
But my eyes are toward you, O God my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! From Psalm 141
What books would you recommend I add to my reading list for 2021? I am currently reading and loving “Inexpressible” by Michael Card and I am re-reading one of my favorite books of all time, “Stepping Heavenward” by Elizabeth Prentiss. I hope that you will find many quiet moments in the coming year to dig into some good books.