40 Verses To Ignite Your Faith: Surprising Insights From Unexpected Passages, by Laurie Polich Short
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book is an example, and a very worthwhile example, of the benefits of having a woman write a book about the Bible that is not only directed at women. All too often Christian books written by women are aimed only at women and do not even attempt to be of interest to whatever men would happen to pick them up. This book, though, is definitely an exception to that particular trend, and that is a very good thing. The author writes with a clear sense of purpose (to encourage and stir up the reader with stories of faith and God’s providential care) and she goes well beyond the familiar verses and passages for most believers. All of this combines for a book that is short but deeply interesting and certainly surprising. Since people struggle with worry, trusting God’s timing, dealing with weariness and challenges in life, this book certainly has a strongly practical bent in terms of what the author is seeking to help for others. To be sure, if people read the Bible often, they would be familiar with these stories, but perhaps a book like this can encourage readers to dig a bit deeper beyond their favorite passages.
To be sure, within this short book of less than 200 pages the author manages to discuss passages from the wide range of scripture. The first nine passages come from the law (the first four from Genesis alone). After that there are plenty of passages from the writings and prophets, including two from Jonah. Fully 3/4 of the material of the book comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, a remarkable percentage for Christian books, which often tend to neglect these areas. The last ten of the verses come from the New Testament, with six of them from the Gospels and three of them from the Pauline epistles, which are probably among the more familiar areas where the author discusses passages. It should be noted that the author does as good job at finding obscure passages–one of the passages included is from Isaiah 50 and discusses the folly of lighting our own fires. Other passages explore affliction, some lessons from relatively obscure Psalms, and the sorrow of God and of believers and how it was dealt with. Overall, one could always want more from a book like this, but that suggests there is room perhaps for a sequel.
One of the more worthwhile aspects of this book is the way that the author weaves her own life story and her own personal experiences into this book in a way that is pervasive but thankfully never obtrusive. For example, the long period of singlehood by the author makes her more compassionate for those who feel isolated and alone (and that is a great many people) than many writers are whose life experience has been more fortunate in that regard. When the author speaks about Job, for example, she focuses on the beginning and end. There are certainly some lessons she could have drawn but did not–she misses the chance in talking about Exodus 16 and the maggots in the manna to discuss the importance of Sabbathkeeping. That said, the book does accomplish what the author sets out to do and that is present a generally obscure and passionately discussed selection of Bible verses and passages from all over the Bible. Again, there are plenty of verses and passages that could have been included in this work, which means there is plenty more for the author to write about and discuss in future volumes.