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The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry

By Ajith Fernando
September 2008 | Review by Stephen Emmott

Synopsis

2008 Christianity Today Book Award. By examining Paul's words on the subject of suffering for Christ from Colossians 1:24-29, Fernando thoughtfully explains how suffering can be a blessing to the individual Christian and to the church as a whole. His book will help Christians joyfully embrace the life of service and total devotion to Jesus, despite the pain it entails.

  • Publisher: Crossway
  • ISBN: 978-1581348880
  • Pages: 192
  • Price: £7.24
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Book Review

Though the subtitle of this book is ‘Embracing suffering in your ministry’, it is clearly aimed at (and would greatly benefit) all Christians, not just those engaged in some form of full-time ministry.

The book is really a devotional essay on Colossians 1:24–29 (‘Now I rejoice in my sufferings … etc.’) and Fernando’s basic premise is that ‘pain and joy are both essential features of Christianity’ (p.15). As the subtitle indicates, he concentrates mainly on the pain, showing how it is to be seen in a positive light.

The material is presented in a helpful way with four main sections showing how suffering impacts on different aspects of our Christianity – for example, how suffering helps the church. Then, the whole is broken down into 30 short chapters or meditations, making it suitable for daily readings. The language is simple, and the points are well made and illustrated.

The teaching that true Christians ought not to suffer or experience pain has reached Sri Lanka, the author’s home country, as it has so many other places. But he exposes such ideas as unbiblical, and points out that Jesus said, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Matthew 16:24).

Fernando is clearly a keen observer of developments in the church. In his book, he takes these issues to the Word of God and returns with some very practical and challenging things to say.

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