Years ago at one of the first retreats where I presented the book recommendations, my pastor’s wife asked me to include a book on sex. (Insert screeching brakes noise.) To my great relief, she actually did a review of the book in question during a breakout session for wives. Now, I’m a gal with a testimony, which is the church girl way of saying I have a shady past. While nothing in the book shocked or embarrassed me, the thought of talking about the specifics of it OUT LOUD to 300 hundred women while being recorded for all time made me sweat. I’m pretty sure my pastor’s wife sweated a little too.
The book in question? Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, and as a Christian had never read anything like it. Actually, as a non-Christian I had never read anything like it. Using the foundation of God’s word, the book addressed questions about sexuality that most women have and few dared ask-especially Christian women. Later I read, along with my husband, Intimacy Ignited, written by the same two women in partnership with their husbands. A devotional study on the book of Song of Solomon with practical application for married couples, this book both answered questions and gave direction to help couples understand God’s design for marriage and intimacy.
What I appreciated about both of those books was the commitment to God’s word as the source of wisdom and instruction, and the honest and forthright way they dealt with the topic of sex. Never scandalous or salacious, yet clear and direct, these books brought solid Bible teaching to the topic of intimacy as God intended it to be practiced.
Yet, for many of us, intimacy as God intended it has not been part of our story. Sexual abuse, sinful choices, betrayal, pornography and addictions have marred the view and experiences of intimacy. Whatever the pain, why ever the pain, healing is needed. That is the topic of the newest book by Linda Dillow, this time partnered with Juli Slattery.
Surprised by the Healer: Embracing Hope for Your Broken Story sets out to bring hope and freedom from past hurts in three ways.
First, by understanding that while books, counseling and therapy may have their place in the process, transformative healing comes from God. Gods’ names in the scripture reveal who He is, and His name Jehovah Rapha means The God Who Heals. In the opening chapter we are introduced to the God Who Heals from the scriptures, and while healing may be physical, our greatest need is for spiritual healing.
Importantly, we are also introduced to differences in the way God heals. The authors put it this way, “While God promises to redeem us, to work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called by Him (Romans 8:28) His healing looks different from person to person. Each healing is unique to that individual. In some cases, God takes away the physical impact of illness or emotional pain of a traumatic memory. In others, He gives His wisdom and strength to endure.” (pg. 15)
This is critical to our acceptance of the work God is doing as we bring our pain to Him for healing. God’s ultimate purpose in healing is “that she will know that He is Lord, He is her healer, and that He has the power to redeem our lives from the pit.” (pg. 16) While our ultimate purpose is relief from pain, the greatest healing will come as we experience the peace of God as we have peace with God.
Secondly, it is through the stories of nine women that we see God as healer in each of their lives. The women tell their own stories, none in graphic detail but certainly enough to clearly understand what happened to them and how it affected them. Each chapter has a section that is an invitation to heal, and there the authors share biblical insight and encouragement on an action or principle that was key to the woman’s healing.
As you travel through the book, you become aware of something; their circumstances and their outcomes differ, yet throughout each story we see recurring themes as the women move to wholeness:
- Each woman made a choice to pursue healing.
- Each woman surrendered not just her pain but her life to God.
- Each woman applied herself to the study and application of the word of God.
- There are no quick fixes and it requires hard work.
- Forgiveness is required and withholding it impedes our progress.
It’s been said there are no shortcuts to holiness, likewise there are few, if no shortcuts to healing. While God can heal in an instant, it’s through the process that we gain so much more than freedom from pain.
The third way the book offers hope and freedom is through a ten week study that includes meditating on scripture, questions about the chapters, and the important questions of what we learned about God and ourselves.
This is a sensitively written book on a sensitive topic. No single book could be the cure-all for brokenness of sexual wounds. This book is encouragement for the woman who thinks she’s alone in her pain, who thinks she can’t be forgiven or healed, and direction for those who don’t know where to begin. The how-to loving side of me would like more about the process, but the lack of that information is, in a way, the point. The uniqueness of God’s work in our lives and our brokenness must be sought and experienced by faith, not formula. In this hope-filled book, you have opportunity to be Surprised by the Healer.
Read well, friends.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.