Monday, November 25, 2013

Hope and Solace in Times of Grief

Albert N. Martin, Grieving, Hope, and Solace: When a Loved One Dies in Christ. Adelphi, Md: Cruciform Press, 2011. Paperback.

Reviewed by Ryan M. McGraw

Shortly after leaving my first pastorate, our former congregation called a new pastor. The day before his examination at Presbytery, his wife died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving behind four children ranging from ages 4-13. As our friends and this man reeled from this devastating news, we commended Al Martin’s Grieving, Hope, and Solace to them. After the elders purchased this book for every family in the congregation, the Spirit of God used it mightily to comfort his people in Christ. We trust that the Lord will continue to bless it to enable this family and congregation to pick up the pieces and to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

The author and the circumstances surrounding the book make it self-commendable. Al Martin is one of the greatest preachers of our time. The material is based on a series of sermons that he preached following the death of his wife of 42 years. In it he wrestles with how to glorify God in grief.

The most valuable feature of Grieving, Hope, and Solace, is that it leads people through careful step-by-step reflections on Scripture. Among many other things, Martin walks us by the hand through his own meditations regarding what is true for saints who have died, the joy of Christ in heaven over them, and how Scriptures direct us to subdue our emotions through faith in God’s promises and obedience to his commands. He is pastorally sensitive while remaining biblically faithful.

This work will benefit believers and non-believers alike. Martin clearly and persuasively presents the glory of Jesus Christ as the only true source of consolation in life and in death. His experience makes this far removed from a cold exhortation. The principles that he lays down will help believers far beyond the narrow application of losing a spouse. We have given this book to non-believers as an evangelistic tool and it has greatly helped our family in the pain of separation from friends and family as a result of moving across the country. I pray fervently that it would be read as widely as possible and that churches will have piles of copies on hand to give to grieving people. This work will always be timely and contemporary.

The preceding review was first published in Banner of Truth.