Facing Trials: Thoughts For Meditation, by Cheryl Zelenka
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
The biggest mystery about this book is why it was self-published and not published with a wider distribution. As someone who reads many devotionals, to the extent that such books are meant to be read , there is nothing about this book that shows in any way a drop in quality or timeliness or scriptural or personal worth from the many devotionals that cross my path from mainstream publishers. The author’s own life experience has made it clear that she can speak authoritatively about struggling with trials and facing them bravely and overcoming them with courage and faith, and all of those are matters she speaks eloquently about. There are a few minor copyediting issues, but nothing that distracts from the quality of the text as a whole. This is an excellent work in its genre, even it happens to be a genre that I do not often wholeheartedly enjoy, and shows a mastery of the form of that genre. It may even yet be a book that could be picked up by a publisher and given a wider distribution in the future, as it is certainly worthy of that regard.
In terms of its form, this devotional belongs, appropriately enough, to the 40-day devotional. This is done through twenty chapters that each contain two devotionals on related subjects that travel along the road from a trial from its initial trouble to struggling through despite fear and depression finally to overcoming anxiety and building trust and faith in God to deliver us from the present and future trials. This format is especially appropriate given the connection between the number 40 and trials and tests within scripture (see, for example, the 40 day fasts of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus Christ, the 40-day period of the spies in the Promised land and the forty year period of Israel in the wilderness, to give but a few examples). Each of the devotionals has a thoughtful title, some opening quotations, a few paragraphs of reflection, and then some closing scriptures for reflection, usually three, but sometimes fewer, and serves as an encouragement to the reader in the face of trials and difficulties. The author includes some notes and references to other books and material, and the book even has some art and photography that brings the point of the devotionals home even more.
This is a delightful book in spite of the fact that it is aimed at those struggling with trials. Of course, since there are a great many people who struggle often over the course of their lives, this book has a wide potential audience. And, in contrast to many books of its kind, this book is written in such a way that it can be read profitably and without irritation and annoyance by men as well as women, which is not something that can be taken for granted in reading a book. So, aside from a few easily corrected typos and the mystery of it not having been more widely published, perhaps because the author is not herself very famous at this time, this is a book worth seeking, and is certainly something that would be of help to many in its encouragement to people on how to deal with the difficult times in their lives. Hopefully it is a work that manages to find its way to those who would most appreciate it and best be able to use the concern.
 See, for example: