Have you ever felt that life couldn’t get any worse? Or asked God why he allows suffering and struggle? If you have, you’ll appreciate Tullian Tchividjian’s Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free, in which Tchividjian eloquently approaches suffering’s reality and the Gospel’s comfort for all of us who seem to be broken.
This ebook is more about the hope that we find at the cross than it is about the whys and hows of alleviating suffering. Tchividjian offers you, the sufferer, the chance to live a life of glorious freedom.
Here’s an excerpt from Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free:
I heard something on the radio recently that made me pull my car over to the side of the road. A young woman named Sara was telling the story of her family’s very public fall from grace. She grew up in a privileged family—enormous house, beautiful clothes, expensive cars (and schools), and country club memberships. Everything in her life growing up was very prim and proper. But Sara claimed that despite the excess that could be seen from the outside, on the inside, her home environment was one of constraint:
Rules were very important. Etiquette, very important. And my dad’s insane temper could be set off by the slightest offense. When I heard the Porsche rumble up the driveway every day when he came home, I would run into my room and hide. Because maybe today would be the day he found the candy wrapper in the sofa cushion…. It was all just all about avoiding awakening the bee’s nest.
Sara went on to describe the fateful day when her parents called a family meeting to tell the children that her father had done something very wrong and was going to have to pay. He embezzled much of their money, it turned out, from a trust fund of one of his disabled clients. In other words, he stole it. Her father, who was a prominent lawyer, wept on the couch as he confessed his wrongdoing to his children. The guilt-induced suffering became too much to bear. He couldn’t live with his wrongdoing any longer. “We’re going to have to start over. We are going to rebuild our lives.” Sara then shared how her father was disbarred from practicing law, how they had to sell their house and cars and move to the other side of town. Her mother went to work. The scandal made headlines. At school, kids teased Sara for being the daughter of a “bankrobber.” And yet in that death—of security, wealth, achievement, identity, etc.—we find out that new life is born.
The radio commentary described it this way:
But my dad was instantly better…. He was happy. He chewed gum, which didn’t happen before. And wasn’t such an … all the time.
Commenting on this story, Ethan Richardson wrote:
With less money, the family gave more. With less status, they imputed status upon those who had none. In becoming the judged, they relinquished their judgments. Downward mobility was now the name of the game: the formerly constrained household became a “free for all.”… In being freed from their bondage to the law of progress and upward mobility, Sara’s family was now able to live in the reality of downward-directed love.
Sara’s story is a powerful testimony of how suffering can liberate us, a tangible echo of the theology of the cross. The suffering of Sara’s father was self-inflicted, as much suffering is, but there was nothing minimal about it. There is zero sense that he viewed his crisis as an avenue for personal growth. And yet real transformation did happen! The disaster actually freed him from himself: from his attachment to his possessions (and affections), from his obsession with appearances, from his judgments of others, from his need to remain upwardly mobile, and the list goes on.
Failure, it turns out, was his gateway to freedom.
If you didn’t catch the Logos Talk piece about the Glorious Ruin Tour, I encourage you to check it out here. You can learn more about the tour and enter to win an iPad from David C. Cook and Logos!
And if you enjoyed this excerpt, be sure to get your copy of Glorious Ruin today!