Here’s a helpful devotional on suffering in the Christian life: Songs of Suffering: 25 Hymns and Devotions for Weary Souls by Joni Earkeckson Tada. I received a review copy of this devotional earlier this week and I’ve been encouraged by the various reflections and hymns Tada has put together in this book. As a side, I remember listening to and enjoying cassette tapes of “Joni and Friends” music as a child. She’s been a blessing to me for many years!
Back to the book. Songs of Suffering is a nice hardcover book with a ribbon bookmark. One aspect that I really appreciated was that each devotional has a hymn to go with it. The hymn scores and words are also printed. Each devotional is around three pages which include a Christian quote, hymn lyrics, and the hymn score. As it says in the subtitle, there are twenty five devotionals so this would make a good month of devotions with a few breaks.
Here’s an example of some hymns included in this book: Be Still My Soul, Abide with Me, What’er my God Ordains is Right, Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, and O Sacred Head, just to name a few. Tada’s devotional writings are also encouraging. She’s known a fair share of suffering, weariness, and sorrow in her own life, so she can write about those first hand. But she also knows the grace, mercy, and kindness of Christ to her, so she can also write well about those first hand. If you’re going through tough times in your Christian walk, or you know another Christian who is, this is a good devotional to get. It’s not too tough to read, but it is full of good and comforting biblical truth.
I do have one critique: there are no Psalms in the book. This is quite surprising, considering the fact that the Psalms are full of inspired examples of songs from suffering saints who found their comfort and hope in the Lord. To be sure, solid Christian hymns have been a major blessing in my walk with the Lord. But often when I think about songs of suffering, hope, and comfort, my mind also goes to Psalms like “O Lord My God, Most Earnestly (Ps 63; tune: The Green Hill), “What Shall I Render to the Lord” (Ps 116; tune: Wallace LM), and “From out the Depths I Cry” (Ps 130; tune: Sandon), for just a few examples. Songs of Suffering is a good devotional book written around solid hymns, but it would be much better if there were some Psalms included. But still, I do recommend it. It’s worth reading.
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015