When Life is Hard by James MacDonald

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 1:45 PM Posted by Savanah Jeanne

Back Cover:
In the midst of the storm it's tough to remember when you first heard thunder. Some years ago my wife and I sailed into a series of trials that increased from gentle breezes to a Category 5 hurricane. At the time I wondered what God's purpose could possibly be in making life so hard.
How do we make sense of suffering? All I knew was that I had to find out. I needed help and I needed it fast, so I searched God's Word, not as an academic exercise, but as a desperate soul crying out for help.
What He gave me during those weeks has changed my life, and you now hold the written record of it in your hands. Of life has been hard for you, you're in the right place. I'm eager to share with you what God revealed to me through His Word...

- Dr. James MacDonald

My Thoughts:
When I first started to read this book I knew that I was probably going to laugh through most of it. Not because what he (MacDonald) was saying was humorous in a way of ignorance, but because he found a way to say truthful things in a way that was somewhat sarcastic. Which to me, always makes me feel comfortable. Because I'm a sarcastic person:] Which is odd for me, because I also take everything literally. Yes, I am difficult. But that is not what this post is about.
Anyway, there where a lot of different ideas and thoughts written in this book that I agreed with and then there were a few that I completely disagreed with. Here's what you should know before reading:
The first thing that caught my attention in a bad way was a very small comment on page 82 about people asking him (Mr. James MacDonald is a pastor) frivolous questions like "Should I move to Topeka, Kansas?".

"God's will is God's Word. People ask me frequently what God's will is for their life. 'Is it God's will for me to move to Topeka, Kansas?' Trust me on this: He doesn't care. He will still be able to do what He's doing here even if you're in Kansas and He will use you wherever you are if you're obedient to His word.
God's will for you is to keep your commitments.
God's will is for you is to be a person of integrity.
God's will is for you to be a hard worker.
God's will is for you to be a person of truth and sincerity and commitment to His way.
That's God's will. " (82)

In my opinion, he never should have answered the question with a "God's will for you is (fill in the blank)". Simply because, Dr. James MacDonald does not know what God's will is for your life or for my life or for anybody else’s life but his own. The bible says that God may even choose to harden the hearts of some. Meaning, God may choose some to go to Heaven and then choose others to go to hell. And just in case you think I'm pulling this from the sky, take a look at these passages:

John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Romans 8:29
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

These passages clearly state that, ONE: God chooses us, TWO: He can choose you also to go to hell and THREE: who He chooses to go to heaven or hell does not have anything to do with what you have or have not done. And there are more, but you probably are bored by now. And if that's the case, Stop Reading This. And skip to the section called read this.

This being said, there is no way for Mr. MacDonald to know the will of God for you. Simply because you and I have no way of knowing weather or not that man walking on the street is chosen by God or that woman who sits three pews ahead of you. You just don't know. However, you can know the will of God for yourself, and you are the only one to know the will of God for yourself. If you listen.

Another thing that bothered me about this short little excerpt was when Mr. MacDonald said that God doesn't care if you move to Topeka Kansas. That isn't true. God does care. He always cares. He cares enough to notice a bird being sold, or to count the hairs on your head...trust me...He cares very much about weather or not you move to Topeka, Kansas.

I will say though, that I think what Mr. MacDonald is trying to say is that he, as a pastor and mentor and confidant, cannot help people with those kinds of issues. Those are between them (the people moving) and God, not between Pastor MacDonald and whoever. Because again, Mr. MacDonald doesn't know the will of God for you. So he isn't able to tell you if that is or isn't the will of God in your life.

The last thing that I noticed, and there may be more (these are just the ones that I actually noticed), is that Mr. MacDonald's advice was not all times...the best.

i.e. "If you're not sure how to love, have a party. Invite people over." (86)

I can think of a thousand more effective was to learn what love is. Try, being in a consistently working family. And I don't mean working like mom is a nurse, dads a cop and brother a sister are never seen because they have their own jobs.

Try, serving in your community. It's both humbling and the surest way to know what selflessly loving means.

Try anything, anything at all before you try throwing a party. Because I know, being a hostess before myself, even on the smallest scale...masks are so easy to put on if you know it'll all end soon.

Other than that, I liked his thoughts on suffering on page 77. Wonderful stuff there. I also like that you can read this book with a group or just by your self. Versatile books like that make me eager to read. I don't know why they just do. You know...sometimes you have to get a separate study on the book to do a group thing. I don't know. I just like books that are all in one like this.

I also liked that he used his own personal reflection. Being able to see a leader fall or trip up and then be able to admit that he made a mistake and is now teaching from his own experiences...that's just a really great characteristic for a leader. I personally, look for those things. Not for them to wallow in their dirt, but to be able to teach from they're own point of view. This is not me saying, please tell me Mr. I-was-once-a-rapist what you believe about God. I don't mean that at all. But I like to be able to connect with those who are teaching.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

And thanks to Moody Publishers with providing me with a free copy of When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald for reviewing purposes.

13 Response to "When Life is Hard by James MacDonald"

  1. Kevin Says:

    I think you miss the point on the "God's Will" section. What James is saying (and what I believe), is that God's will for anyone's life doesn't have anything to do with where they live, what job they have, or what kind of car you should drive. God's will is about your spiritual growth, your relationship with Him, and your obedience to God's Word.

    Also, when quoting Scripture in your reviews, please be sure to use it properly and not alter it. The 2 Thes. passage you quote is talking about Satan in the end times, when God condemns those who "had pleasure in unrighteousness."

  2. Nonners Says:

    Dear Sir,

    I would much appreciate any and all comments you make. I find that even civil disagreements have brought me to an even farther level of understanding of what I believe in. But please do not assume that I have altered the text of the Written Word. That is insulting and rude for you to just assume that I have done such a thing. Also know that what I said was said in the perspective of a third person. Know one truly knows the will of God in somebody else's life. And I truly believe that God can call a person to Topika, Kansas if that is where he believes that a family can be used in the best possible way. However, I do not think that a pastor is going to be able to give you the answer to such a question as that.

    Next time you comment, I ask that you do not assume. Assuming is rude and obnoxious and is the worst way to make a friend out of some one.

    Thank you for stopping by, and I hope to hear from you again :]



    P.S. Those are all ESV translations.

  3. Nonners Says:

    I have recently placed in the "b" part of that verse for your satisfaction.

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