Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Love and Suffering are Inseparable

A Loving Life (in a World of Broken Relationships). By Paul E. Miller. Wheaton: Crossway. 2014. 176 pp. (List Price $12.99 Paperback | $9.99 Kindle | $14.98 Audio)

Suffering and love are inseparable. Even sappy romantic comedies and dramas require some level of conflict and pain in order to move the story along to a fairytale conclusion. Yet we are often remiss to put these two concepts together because we either want to avoid this reality or deny it altogether. A Loving Life begins with the reality that suffering is the crucible for love, death is the center of love, and loving sometimes means acting against my feelings.

Paul E. Miller has written a book on love that follows the J-curve of the story of Ruth and ultimately of the gospel itself: downward into death and then upward into resurrection. By looking at the love demonstrated by Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz in the biblical account, Miller describes the kind of sacrifice that one-directional love requires and the hope and resurrection this kind of love produces, not only in the person being loved, but the one doing the loving as well.

Modern-day movies and novels are often more remiss to include the ideas of commitment and love together than they are to include suffering and love, but Miller shows that true love grows out of commitment, not sentimentality or “good feelings.” Commitment breeds love even when the good feelings are gone as Ruth shows by her relationship with Naomi and Miller shows with modern examples from his own life and the lives of others.

I was not expecting the power and force of Miller’s book when I began listening to the audio version. He doesn’t give five principles for creating a sunny disposition, but rather traces out the lines of real love, the kind of love that can cry out to God for deliverance and rejoice in Him when deliverance comes.

I’ve already been applying the book to my own life and using it in counseling others about dying to our own rights and desires, choosing instead to love and trusting God for the resurrection. Highly recommended.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher for purposes of review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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