on May 1, 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Devotional, Marriage, Parenting, Theology
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This devotional helps married couples to navigate the storms of life together. Working through the book of Job, Sarah Walton (author of "Hope when it Hurts") and her husband Jeff reflect on their own experiences in a marriage that has faced chronic illness, the after-effects of abuse, a child with neurological challenges, and financial difficulties–and show how to cling to Christ and each other.
This is not a "how to" guide on having the best marriage, but, rather, a walk alongside you and your spouse, sharing the realities of suffering and the effects it can have on a marriage. It is an encouragement to lift your eyes above your trials, off your spouse, and onto our all-sufficient Savior.
In this book, Sarah and Jeff Walton share their hard-won wisdom about how to sustain a healthy marriage in the midst of life’s storms. Throughout their years together, they have faced chronic illness, financial troubles, children’s health problems, the after-effects of abuse, and other incredibly challenging issues. In spite of all this, they have been able to endure through difficulty and maintain their relationship, and they have written this book to provide other Christians with the kind of guidance that they always wanted. This book deals with real-life issues in a direct and vulnerable way, and never presumes any one-size-fits-all solution. The authors write with sensitivity to those who suffer from similar or totally different struggles from their own, and direct their readers to Christ and gradual relationship work together, instead of promising a solution to the external or internal difficulties that can make a marriage so difficult.
Practical and Honest | Together Through the Storms
Together Through the Storms: Biblical Encouragements for Your Marriage When Life Hurts is one of the most practical marriage books that I have ever read. Although the Waltons write about theological and spiritual views of marriage, they also grapple with the practical difficulties of life together in the midst of suffering, providing both personal stories and Scriptural insight about how to cope with suffering while still fostering a close marital relationship. I recognized so many different couples within their stories, and realized how rarely I see some of these experiences reflected in books. This is a very rare resource, since it focuses on entrenched, unchanging difficulties instead of just providing advice for how to fix surface-level problems.
The Waltons use the book of Job as the focal point for their work, drawing on its teachings about suffering and about how a person’s pain impacts their relationships. They explore the implications for how Christian couples can deal with suffering internally, process it together, and deal graciously with people who say hurtful things and do not understand. Also, even though this book is designed for couples with or without children, some of the chapters address heartaches and difficult situations that come with the territory of parenting. Personally, I really appreciated what they had to say about parenting children with chronic health issues, since this is such an important topic that rarely gets addressed. I sometimes wished that they would go into more detail, since they were often very general about the things that they shared, but I respect their desire to protect their family’s privacy.
Reading Together | Together Through the Storms
This book has discussion questions and journaling pages at the end of each chapter, and Sarah and Jeff designed this as a resource that spouses would read and discuss together. They alternated which chapters they wrote, and also co-wrote some of them, depending on the topic. They share both their individual perspectives and a unified voice, and because this book comes from the perspective of a husband and wife, rather than a counselor or relationship expert, it has a very authentic and personal appeal.
Husbands and wives will be able to see some of their own thoughts and feelings reflected in what this couple has written, and may be able to better understand their spouse’s point of view after reading about the struggles and emotions that someone else’s husband or wife has walked through. I found it interesting to see the subtle and more significant differences between how Sarah and Jeff wrote about different aspects of the struggles that they have faced. Some issues affected one spouse more than the other, and the way that they share and process this on the page can help other couples feel understood and communicate through their own differences.
The Waltons also keep this book accessible to people whose spouses refuse to read this book with them. Although they are very clear that abuse should not be tolerated, and that someone in a toxic and oppressive marriage should get help and leave their abusive partner, they express hope for those who are dealing with a spouse who does not share their Christian beliefs or is not willing to work on their marriage right then. Someone who is in that situation can read this book and still benefit from it, instead of feeling discouraged.
Together Through the Storms is a biblical, practical, and encouraging resource for suffering couples. The authors never suggest quick fixes or shallow answers, but delve into the hard questions of life and share the wisdom that they have gained through their own difficult experiences, helping couples of all ages and life situations work through their suffering together and find ways to strengthen their relationship despite their painful constraints. I highly recommend this, whether someone is dealing with intense suffering right now or not, because storms will come, and this book can help a couple endure in the midst of pain, prepare for the future, or deal with the aftermath of a crisis. This is an excellent book for Christian couples, and is one of the best marriage books that I have ever read for those couples who just returned the rented tablecloths bulk order made for the wedding reception.