I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down and open up his or her book. Today I’m excited to share about a new book from Sarah Walton and Kristen Wetherell, Hope When It Hurts. As women’s ministry coordinator at my church, I regularly meet with women who are hurting. They suffer from difficult marriages, broken friendships, unwanted circumstances, and physical pain. Often, I don’t know what resources to recommend because each situation is unique. For this reason, I’m thankful for the way this book walks alongside a woman in her suffering, providing wisdom, insight, and Scripture from two women who have traversed painful paths.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sarah: Sure! I’m a stay-at-home mom with four children younger than 10. My husband, Jeff, and I live in Chicago and are members at the Orchard Evangelical Free Church. The last ten years have been greatly marked by loss as we have endured a neurological/behavioral disorder in our oldest, major financial loss, and the painful reality of our whole family suffering with Chronic Lyme Disease. However, I can truly say that I am thankful for the long and painful road that we have endured because the Lord, in His goodness, has given me more of himself and taught me to find my hope, joy, and identity in him alone.
Kristen: I’m married to Brad, who’s the campus pastor at our church, The Orchard Itasca. We have a baby on the way, due in late October! I work part-time for Unlocking the Bible, as a writer and editor for the ministry’s blog; and I freelance write for other websites. I love being involved in women’s ministry at church and teaching women at other churches when I can. Though I studied music theater in college, Lyme disease rerouted my path, so many days are humbling as I deal with its physical repercussions.
When did you first start writing?
Sarah: I have always been a journaler, but after my senior pastor encouraged me to start writing about two and a half years ago, I took a step of faith and began a personal blog to share with others what the Lord has been teaching me on my journey of suffering. Little did I know that I would be writing a book within a matter of months!
Kristen: I always enjoyed writing (I was the weirdo who loved research papers), but I didn’t write regularly until 2012, when I started a blog. That turned into a women’s devotional site with several contributors. Once that ended, I began working at UTB, expanding my editing/writing skills. Even now, I often don’t feel like I know what I’m doing, but I consider it pure joy to call writing my job.
What do you enjoy about it?
Sarah: I love how the process of writing always ends up encouraging and challenging me along the way. Often, the Lord will stir something within me that he’s teaching me and as I write, I meditate on and flesh out the truths of Scripture that apply to the specific topic—growing my own faith roots down deeper in the process.
Kristen: I love to teach God’s Word through this craft, to communicate his truth to people’s hearts in a fresh way, while remaining faithful to Scripture. God’s Word is how we know him, how our love for Christ deepens and changes us. So I love how writing is one means to worship him, apply his gospel to life, and build up the church in his truth. Plus, words are fantastic! I love words!
Is writing ever difficult for you?
Sarah: Yes, I find it difficult to write when I’m trying to produce something out of my own wisdom and knowledge, rather than depending on the Spirit to guide me. When I feel myself straining to create something, I need to set it aside and pray that Christ would give me what he wants me to write in his timing.
Kristen: Yes! It’s often difficult! Anyone who says it’s not is either a prodigy or lying. To me, writing feels like running—starting is the hardest part. I agree with Sarah that it’s most difficult when I’m attempting to “produce” because I feel pressure, rather than waiting on God in faithfulness and writing in response to him. Chronic arm/hand pain also makes writing difficult.
What led you to write Hope When It Hurts?
Sarah: Kristen and I have both been going through a long season of suffering, and as we have grown in our faith and come to understand the gospel more through the trials that we’ve faced, we’ve had a passion to share the deep truths that Christ has been teaching us along the way. We wanted to write a book that was real about the hard realities of suffering, but also one that was filled with the hope-filled message of the gospel.
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from your book?
Kristen: God sees you in your pain. He hears your pleas. He knows your heart, even if you haven’t yet cried out to him. Because the Son of God took your punishment on the cross, he is intimately acquainted with suffering and knows the worst of it. And he went there for you, so you might know the enduring, joy-filled hope of trusting in him for salvation, both now and forever. Come to him. You will find in Jesus a Friend, Helper, Lord, and Savior who will never leave your side, not even in the darkest night of the soul. When it hurts, he will be your Hope.
How has writing this book affected your own life?
Sarah: I often have to go back and read the things that Kristen and I have written because they are struggles that are never dealt with just once. It always amazes me that I can read one of my own chapters and find encouragement through it as if I was never part of the writing process! The reality is, suffering is cyclical. Grief, loneliness, bitterness, anxiety, and so on, can arise within us unexpectedly, after we thought that we’d already dealt with it. Therefore, having written and rewritten about how the gospel speaks into our suffering, I have learned that as struggles begin to arise within me, I need to constantly fix my eyes back on the truth of God’s Word and the hope of the gospel.
Kristen: I’ve returned again and again to 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 as an anchor for my soul when the physical pain feels unbearable or when confusion happens. God has used this section of his Word to give me eternal perspective on temporal sufferings, and to help me trust him. When I re-open the book, I’m stunned by how much I don’t remember writing, and God uses it to teach me his truth in a fresh, convicting way.
Here’s a video of their stories:
Here’s what other’s are saying:
We want to hear from those who have walked, and perhaps continue to walk, in dark valleys, yet have found Christ to be a light to them, the Spirit a comfort to them, the Father taking care of them. That’s what makes Kristen and Sarah such good guides for those who hurt.—Nancy Guthrie, author of What Grieving People Wish You Knew and Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow; Bible teacher
I had not finished reading the introduction to this book before I was making a mental list of friends that I knew would find it a balm to their weary hearts. Kristen and Sarah minister to fellow travelers on the road of suffering, out of the resources they have received on their journey, from the God of all comfort, grace, and hope.—Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author; host/teacher of Revive Our Hearts
Kristen and Sarah have suffered immensely, but both of them know that our only hope is found in Jesus. In this wonderful book, they have labored to encourage our souls with the gospel, give us space to grieve our loss, and turn to the only source of real hope.—Dave Furman, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai; author of Being There: How to Love Those Who are Hurting.
If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?
Sarah: If I hadn’t lost the use of my ankle due to a degenerative issue, you’d find me playing a pickup game of almost any sport. However, since that has become a thing of the past, you’d now find me at a local coffee shop visiting with a friend or taking advantage of the quiet to write.
Kristen: At the park, in the sunshine, reading next to my husband, iced tea in-hand.
Sarah Walton and her husband, Jeff, live in Chicago with their four young children and are members at The Orchard. Sarah writes at setapart.net and is co-author of the book Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, 2017). Follow Sarah on Twitter.
Kristen Wetherell is a writer, Bible teacher, and the content manager of Unlocking the Bible. She is the author, along with Sarah Walton, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). She writes at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter. She and her husband, Brad, are members of The Orchard.