Finding God’s Blessings In Brokenness: How Pain Reveals His Deepest Love, by Charles F. Stanley
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
At least the pictures to this book are beautiful. If one wanted to get a sense of the contents of this book in a concise way, it would be to take one of the amazingly beautiful photographs of God’s creation and added to it one of the author’s distressingly direct demotivational statements. This book is a mercifully short (close to 150 page) collection of demotivational comments that felt like reading Calvinist propaganda . The book is more a statement of God’s goodness in his planning out all of the ways to break us like someone breaks horses , which is not strictly even necessary. The book as a whole rests on mistaken assumptions–that it is necessary to break a horse, and therefore necessary to break someone’s will, and that God does not wish to break our spirits, when He expresses clear desires to do precisely that in scripture, as unpleasant as that may be to us, for whom a broken spirit is the sort of sacrifice we would rather not be in the position to give.
The contents of this book are divided between text divided into ten chapters (with a prayer that serves as an epilogue) and some amazing photos of God’s creation that are by far the best part of this book. The text itself looks at the tension between brokenness and God’s blessing, then goes rather didactically at chapters that declaim that God wants the best for us, why we are broken, our obstacles to accepting our brokenness, what it means to be made whole, the development of spiritual maturity, the process of breaking, our protest against brokenness, our preparation to bear much fruit, and the promise of blessing. I was surprised, and not in a good way, by the paucity of scriptural references and the long stretches of statements given without proof or explanation. The author seemed not to realize that his approach was one that required explanation, moderation, and justification, not one that could be stated as if it was from the very voice of God on Mount Sinai. The author does the reader a real disservice in giving highly pointed statements in the absence of nuance or context, and in seeking to gain sympathy for his own struggles without having earned such sympathy through being empathetic and compassionate towards a struggling reader.
Indeed, this book is an excellent piece of evidence in how out of touch Calvinist writers are with the general population of the United States, and even with Arminian Christians like myself. Having painted God into a corner with human reasoning related to matters of predestination and divine providence, the author moves dangerously close to the position of being like one of Job’s friends. In seeking to explain why and how our brokenness reveals God’s deepest love and desire to bless us, the author invites criticism from those who have seen plenty of brokenness and not a lot of blessing, and even goes a long way towards the sort of blaming of the victim that makes Calvinism a deeply unprofitable worldview in public discourse. One wonders if the author has taken any sort of longer and more nuanced views of his worldview that would be far less unpleasant to read. Even where there author says the right thing, he says it the wrong way. At least there are pretty pictures, though.
 See, for example:
 This was a highly troublesome aspect of the book for me personally, given the fact that there are ways of training horses without breaking them, something that the author never seems to consider. See, for example: