Gifts From Heaven: True Stories of Miraculous Answers To Prayer, compiled by James Stewart Bell
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
In the course of our lives, many of us find ourselves facing difficulties and trials and look for encouragement from those around us or, failing that, from the written word . This book clearly meets a need and manages to deal with a problem that is underrated when it comes to trials. This book could have taken the angle that trials are the result of a lack of faith and gotten appeal from Job’s contemporary friends today, and I am glad this book chose to avoid taking that approach. The deliverance provided by God is deliverance through trials as well as from them, and that is a lesson that is worthwhile to remember. Even if the book is more than a little bit samey, even though it is fairly short, the fact that the book’s editor manages to focus on a good approach to trials and the way that God answers prayer in a variety of ways and not always in the ways that we would expect.
The book is organized in a very simple fashion, with various stories from people I have never heard about. Perhaps I would have felt a lot more excited about this book had I known who anyone was, but as it was I did not know any of them and that made it more difficult for me to really get into the stories. The people have short biographical sketches at the end and the stories themselves deal with a wide variety of trials, from health trials to trusting in God’s ability to provide for us to overcoming the death of loved ones, and offer a fair slice of the sort of trials that people would want encouragement about. Even though all of the people in the book were strangers to me that I had never heard of before at all, which is remarkable given the sheer number of books I write and the writers I am familiar with, some of these stories were gripping. The most interesting story came from a woman named Elfriede Volk who talked about her father’s experiences during World War II, which was quite a moving story, but many of the stories told very heartfelt stories as well.
Overall, this book is designed for those who like stories of faith and answered prayer including angelic intervention. There is a large market for books like this, although I would recommend to readers to take this book a bit slowly and only read a few stories at a time because the stories start feeling really similar if you read them all at once. Perhaps most readers do not read books as quickly as I am and would not need the reminder to take this one a bit slowly in order to appreciate it as much as possible. Other than that, the book is written in such a way that will likely appeal to evangelicals and charismatic Christians and at least one story (that of Ms. Volk) is aimed at a Sabbatarian audience, surprisingly enough. Although I am not the ideal reader for a book like this, I found the book to be of value and to have a lot of worthwhile stories. I would have liked a bit more variety in the approach, but many readers will likely enjoy the consistency a lot more than I did, and I can see this being a book that encourages many readers about the way God answers prayers.
 See, for example: