Well acquainted with suffering, Guthrie offers Jesus’ words of comfort in her most recent work.
by Ruth Moon
Nancy Guthrie is no stranger to suffering. After her second child, Hope, died within a year of birth from Zellweger syndrome, a rare, fatal genetic abnormality, Guthrie began writing Holding On to Hope, a book about coping with loss and grief. She was in the final stages of writing when she became pregnant with a third child, Gabriel, who was also diagnosed with Zellweger. Gabriel lived for six months.
Since Gabriel’s death, Guthrie has written many books and articles, and has traveled around the country speaking at conferences about the Christian response to suffering. Her latest work, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow (Tyndale), which came out last month, is an expansion of themes introduced in her previous books, adding, as Nancy writes in the introduction, “the perspective of years and further understanding of the Scriptures.” Her.meneutics contributor Ruth Moon talked to Guthrie about the health-and-wealth gospel and how to comfort friends who are grieving.
What place do you want Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow to have on the bookshelf of Christian books about suffering? What niche does it fill?
I hope this book is not a “grief” book. It speaks to people who are grieving, but I hope people see it as a theological book. I hope that the book would be that theological thinking through of suffering, but also an invitation to those of us who say that Jesus means everything to us and that we want to follow him, to live that out in the hardest, lowest places of life, that when we enter into unimaginable suffering, it’s obvious that Jesus is still everything to us, that he is still the solid ground beneath our feet, and that he is who we’re grabbing hold of and depending on and whom we love and treasure and trust.
You organize this book around 11 statements from Jesus on suffering, such as, “I, Too, Have Heard God Tell Me No,” and “I Am Giving Life to Those Who Believe in Me.” Do you feel you learned anything while writing those statements?
Absolutely. One of the things I have struggled with is that when we look at the Gospels, they overflow with stories of Jesus’ visible healing of people. That creates a struggle for modern-day believers: Okay, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So can I, should I, expect that he wants to do that, will do that, in my life? The most significant step was pursuing an understanding of what Jesus’ healing ministry’s purpose was, what he wanted us to see about himself.
A lot of believers assume that what Jesus was saying about himself was that he wants to heal our bodies. What I’ve seen is that he was giving us a picture of his healing power in the way that he healed bodies, but the more significant message he had is about his character, his ability to bring healing, not only to our bodies but to our souls as well.
I interviewed Guthrie for Christianity Today’s women’s blog, Her.meneutics. You can read the rest and comment here.