Persevering Power: Encouragement for When You’re Oppressed by Life – Bruce D. Strom

Persevering Power: Encouragement for When You're Oppressed by Life by Bruce D. Strom
Published by IVP on November 28, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Social Justice
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Life is filled with challenges. We might be weary and overwhelmed by the world around us. Whether we are facing personal struggles or working against unjust circumstances, it can feel like the odds are against us. Does God care? How can we carry on?

There is hope for us because God is a God of justice who cares for people in distress. Bruce Strom shows how those facing difficulties can receive God's power to persevere. By looking to God's perspective and purpose, we can find direction for what God has in store for us. He transforms our understanding of the past and gives us resources to renew our souls and find fresh strength to continue on. Strom shares how God has been active in his life and in others', encouraging us with examples of how lives can change and things can be different.

If you're running on empty and are tired from the fight, discover the persevering power God has for you.

Bruce D. Strom writes about important paradigm shifts that can help people endure suffering, sharing a combination of biblical advice, personal experiences, and touching stories from Administer Justice, the legal aid ministry he founded. He writes about how God’s power helps us persevere, and he shares helpful insights into how we can better process life’s problems. The chapters in this book focus on “looking up” towards God, “looking back” to see His provision and goodness in the past, “looking in” with healthy self-awareness and confession, and “looking around” to recognize and serve other people’s needs. Each chapter concludes with an example prayer and application questions.

Persevering Power: Encouragement for When You’re Oppressed by Life shares wise biblical advice for enduring suffering, and I appreciated Strom’s honesty about his personal struggles and failings. However, I sometimes felt like the book was all over the place, with lots of different ideas and applications that didn’t seem suited to a clear, specific audience. Strom structured this book well around the principles he shares, but individual chapters often jump around with lots of different thoughts and illustrations that seem suited to different audiences. Some parts of the book focus on people who feel “oppressed by life” and may also be victims of injustice, while other parts focus on persuading privileged Christians to live out the gospel through social action and stewarding their material blessings to help others.

These are all great messages, but the book sometimes feels disjointed and doesn’t live up to the subtitle, as the book’s primary focus turns to mobilizing the church and attorneys to help people with legal aid. The author makes a clear case for how this can work and why it is so transformative, but even though I found the topic interesting and appreciated the deeply touching stories, it wasn’t what I expected at all, based on the title and description. The main thrust of the book is why churches should get involved in community justice work and legal aid, not on “encouragement for when you’re oppressed by life,” which has far broader, more general applications.

Persevering Power is an inspiring book full of encouragement and touching stories. The author shares biblical wisdom, practical ideas, and powerful stories about dealing with life’s challenges and helping others through suffering, and there are a lot of great takeaways here. However, if someone is primarily looking for a book about coping with pain and injustice, there are more relevant resources for them to pursue instead. A significant portion of this book focuses on mobilizing specific forms of Christian social action, and only parts of the book delve deeply into going through suffering in your personal life right now. I would mainly recommend this to Christians who are passionate about justice work or want to learn more about it.