Many thanks to Zondervan for sending a copy of this book my direction in exchange for my honest thoughts.
In a way, I’m sorry that such a book as Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts needs to exist. The idea that people need to be encouraged to extend and share care and hope to those who are hurting is pathetic and there is just no two ways about that. Yet we as individuals tend to lean on any variety of reasons as to why we can’t extend a hug, a note, a meal or a helping hand to someone who really needs any one of those things. So, in the end, this book becomes a necessity as it reminds us that Jesus Himself taught us that we are to comfort the broken hearted and weep with those who weep.
What it comes down to is that it’s downright uncomfortable to weep with other people. We are a society that hides our emotions and pretends that things like death do not exist. We try to present pictures of perfect people and go about hiding our sorrows and weaknesses under the proverbial rug, hoping that no one will notice that we have “problems.” If we’re not actively engaged in hiding our own problems, we’re working extraordinarily hard to keep out out the problems of others, choosing to ignore pain instead of face it head on. We really do not like to be inconvenienced.
Enter: Hopelifter. In this book, author Kathe Wunnenberg explains why it is that we – as Christians in particular – are expected to show love and extend hope to those in need of it. She discusses how Jesus is our greatest hope and our living hope. She explains that when Jesus came and walked among us on this Earth, He didn’t just meet spiritual needs but also physical needs and emotional needs and as Christians we ought to strive to do the very same. We have the greatest example in Jesus Christ and whether or not we feel like we want to meet the needs of others, we ought to and we ought to do it joyfully. And, for the record, Christians should not be focused solely on helping other Christians but people of other faiths as well.
One thing Wunnenberg does not acknowledge in this book is that it is easier to help those who are hurting who you can sympathize with. One excuse that is frequently offered as to why one individual is unable to help another is that they don’t really know or “can’t really imagine” the pain of the other. While it is true that we can address the hurts and needs of those who we can identify with better than not, it is equally true that we are not required to go through the same pain before we are required to help. The body of Christ is called upon to work together and meet each other’s needs regardless of whether or not each member has had the same life experiences.
Practically speaking, sometimes we aren’t really sure of how we can reach out and help other people who are in need and so I rather appreciated Part III of this book which includes individual stories of people who have suffered the loss of loved ones, addiction, abortion, unemployment, old age, cancer, and many other afflictions human beings face. Each story includes suggestions of how they received help in their time of need or how they would have liked to have been helped by others. These stories can prompt thoughts and ideas of how you, the reader, can be aware of how to help those who are hurting and remind the wounded that hope does, in fact, exist and the reason that it does is because of the love of Christ.
I think Hopelifter is a very useful book and one worth thinking through, in groups or as individuals. I’m very glad to have read it for myself.
Leave a comment here if you’d like to win a copy of Hopelifter (U.S. shipping addresses only). We’ll announce the winner in our August 14 giveaway column. The giveaway is closed.
- The winner of Love All is #5 Kayo.
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Carrie makes a regular habit out of blogging about her faith through book reviews over at Reading to Know.