Phil Ryken—the president of Wheaton College—has written a new book called When Trouble Comes.
In this small book, I tell the stories of men and women from the Bible who were in all kinds of trouble—people such as Isaiah, Elijah, Ruth, and Paul. They were weighed down by guilt and shame, suffered the death of loved ones, had family crises, or went through other painful trials that tested their faith. For some, the trial was absolutely a matter of life and death.
But before he tells their stories, he tells his own story from a few years ago. Here’s a paragraph from it:
I could tell that I was in a downward spiral. One day I said to myself: “You know, I understand why people kill themselves. This is how they feel. It seems like the only way out.” A few days later, I started to wonder how I would end it all, if, you know . . . It wasn’t a thought I wanted to have, but Satan was after me. Give him any little chance and he will take it. Things were moving in a bad direction, and at the rate they were going, how long would it be before I was in real danger?
I sat down with Dr. Ryken recently to ask him to tell me more about this period of time in his life, and how the president of a Christian college with a PhD in historical theology who seemingly has everything all together can begin to doubt God’s love for him:
Crossway has provided some timestamps for our conversation:
- 00:00 – Why did you decide to include the story of your own personal troubles in your new book?
- 1:37 – How serious was the suffering you faced?
- 2:49 – Can you tell us about how you began to doubt the Lord’s love for you?
- 3:45 – What did the Lord use to bring you out of your season of suffering?
- 5:10 – What is your book all about? What is its format?
- 6:30 – What struggles did the prophet Jeremiah face, and what lessons can we learn from his story?
- 8:32 – Are there common themes that surface among biblical figures who faced trouble?
- 10:11 – How do you envision people using your book?
“Written by a sufferer who is also a skilled theologian-exegete, this book is honest, tender, full of grace, and bursting with the street-level wisdom of God’s Word. With story after story from Scripture, Dr. Ryken shows how the Bible accurately portrays our sufferings and how God meets us in the midst of them. Since suffering really is a universal human experience between the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet,’ this is a book worth getting and living with. I found it to be enormously helpful, and you will too.”
Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect?
“When trouble comes, most Christians want to escape it, deny or divorce it, or medicate or avoid it—we do everything but actually try to live with it! Thankfully, Dr. Ryken takes great pains in this remarkable book to show us how to live gladly and gloriously through our troubles. Rather than take us on a detour around our hardships, he serves as our guide through them. If you are finding it hard to ‘welcome trials as friends,’ this is the book for you.”
Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
“When Trouble Comes is a profound book for people in profound trouble. We don’t need to go looking for it, of course. Sooner or later, some life-altering catastrophe that only God can get us through crashes into our lives. And God does help us, very wonderfully, as we fall into his loving arms. Dr. Ryken, a man I highly respect, gently shows us from the Bible how God cares for us when our very lives are on the line. May the Lord bless you as you read this encouraging book, even as he has blessed me.”
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee
You can find more info about the book, including the table of contents and sample material, here.
(At time of writing, the book is only $7.42 at Amazon.)