Denise Day Spencer

March 18, 2011

“A Path Through Suffering – Discovering the Relationship Between God’s Mercy and Our Pain,” by Elisabeth Elliot

Filed under: Book review — denisedayspencer @ 7:47 pm

Instead of writing about grief I’ve decided to do something different and write about books on grief. You’re still not getting much of a break from this, are you? Sorry; it’s where my life is these days.

I’ve been reading books on grief over the past year and I thought it might be helpful to post some reviews. My plan is to write these in the order in which I read the books. First up is Elisabeth Elliot’s A Path Through Suffering — Discovering the Relationship Between God’s Mercy and Our Pain, Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, MI 1990.

The backdrop to this book is John 12:24 — “A grain of wheat remains a solitary grain unless it falls to the ground and dies; but if it dies, it bears a rich harvest.” Elliot says, “There is a necessary link between suffering and glory.”

Each chapter of this book begins with an excerpt from Lilias Trotter’s Parables of the Cross and Parables of the Christ-Life. Throughout A Path Through Suffering are black and white reproductions of Trotter’s watercolors of desert plant life. The plant imagery works well as Elliot speaks of suffering as a form of spiritual pruning, new life being birthed from the death of the old and springtime always coming no matter how severe the winter.

Elliot’s underlying assumption for her book is detailed in the first chapter when she tells of her two-year-old daughter, Valerie, learning to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and asking if Jesus had loved her daddy. When Elliot answered “yes,” the inevitable question followed. Then why did God let the Auca Indians kill him? “I did not know all God’s reasons…” Elliot confessed. “But that He had reasons, I was sure. That they were loving reasons I was also sure. The assurance that it was not for nothing comforted me and I gave peace to my child.”

She draws on stories from the lives of many Christians who have endured suffering for the glory of God, including Joan Andrews, Amy Carmichael, Walter Ciszek and others from Elliot’s personal life. A Path Through Suffering is firmly grounded in Biblical principles, with liberal references to scriptural heroes of the faith as well.

I found this to be a good book on suffering in general, and it was definitely helpful to me in my grief. Elliot encouraged me to hang onto the belief that God had a purpose for events I could never possibly understand. She reminded me that our God is One who can and does bring life out of death — something I desperately needed to hear as I began, ever so slowly, facing life without my Michael.


September 3, 2009

“Living the Lord’s Prayer,” by Albert Haase, O.F.M.

Filed under: Book review — denisedayspencer @ 7:29 pm

When I first began this book I was rather dubious. What did this author have to say about such a tried-and-true topic that hadn’t already been said a hundred times? My reluctance was unfounded, however, and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed the book immensely.

Father Haase seasons his prose with stories from his own and others’ experiences to illustrate his points. Each chapter ends with “Reflection Questions” and “Gospel Passages for Meditation and Prayer.” This makes Living the Lord’s Prayer a book that could easily be featured in a study group as well as read by individuals. (more…)

August 18, 2009

“Pocket Guide to Sainthood,” by Jason Boyett

Filed under: Book review — denisedayspencer @ 6:46 pm

Before I could begin this essay, I had to pull up my thesaurus and check for alternatives to the word “delightful,” because I could very easily overwork that adjective in a book review of Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guide to Sainthood.

The Pocket Guide to Sainthood is just that. At 219 pages and dimensions of 5″ x 7″ x 5/8″, this little book just might fit into a large pocket. Definitely a purse or backpack. But wait–I’m beginning to sound just a bit like Boyett. (more…)

December 11, 2007

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt

Filed under: Book review — denisedayspencer @ 3:43 pm

Since I was a child, I have loved to read the Bible. But in addition to reading the words on the page, I have also loved to speculate about the sentences that are not there. Some call that “reading between the lines.” You may call it an over-active imagination. I realize that when studying the word of God such a thing can be tricky, even dangerous.

Yet there is a definite place for it, I believe, in the arts. It’s what I’ve always done when writing Biblical skits and plays. Characters must be fleshed out. An writer must fill in the gaps that are there in every Bible story if it is to be turned into a drama or a novel. If the reader can appreciate Bible-based fiction for the sake of the story, the author’s speculation can lead the reader to wonder, to question and dig deeper, even to worship. (more…)

July 2, 2007

Book review: The Divine Hours, Pocket Edition

Filed under: Book review — denisedayspencer @ 9:20 pm

I have, in the past few months, become enamored with the idea of praying at various times during the day–not because I want to be more pious than the next person, but because I need it.

And so Michael recently presented me with a book: The Divine Hours Pocket Edition…on the condition that I would review it. Sounds like a good deal to me! I’m not the one in the family who usually does book reviews, but here goes. (more…)

Blog at