Yesterday I opened my e-mail and read cries for help from twelve different people who never expected to have a family crisis that involved the incarceration of a loved one, a child addicted to drugs, a spouse who betrayed them, or the diagnosis of a debilitating disease. All of the notes had one common denominator. How can I survive what’s happened and cling to unshakable faith in the middle of unthinkable circumstances?
In 2004 NavPress released my book on our journey with our son titled, When I Lay My Isaac Down. Now over 126,000 readers have purchased that book for themselves or for someone they know who is living in a new kind of normal. NavPress later released a DVD curriculum study, but many people requested a study guide, so they could more easily use the material in small group studies. That study guide has just been released and can be ordered on my web site, along with the DVD series.
The book outlines eight life-changing principles that help people to embrace unshakable faith when their lives have turned out differently from their dream. Those principles include:
The Power of Unthinkable Circumstances
The Power of Relinquishment
The Power of Heartache
The Power of Community
The Power of Hope
The Power of Faith
The Power of Joy
The Power of Speaking Up
Gene and I have discovered that when God seems the most absent, He is the most present. Each person’s “Isaac experience” will look different, but the challenge is for us to do what Abraham did. We need to relinquish the person, event, or situation to our God who sees the end from the beginning and trust that everything that happens to us can be a platform upon which we proclaim to the world that His is still good and He is still trustworthy.
How do we survive each day? How do we simply, “Do the next thing?” What will our response to God be when challenges come into our lives that make no sense at all? Will we curl up in the embryo position and try to escape life, or will we embrace our faith and move in the direction of hope, purpose, and even joy in the face of our difficulties?
Each part of the study guide has two parts: The first is for individual reflection and journaling, for you to process your thoughts, questions, prayers, and responses. The second part is for you to go through with a small group who is reading the book and/or viewing the DVD teaching segments. It is best if each member of the group has a copy of the book and the study guide, but the participant’s guide can be used alone with the DVD series if your time is limited and you need a less in-depth study.
It’s my prayer that God will use this study guide to comfort you, challenge you, and bring you closer to Him. Remember what Eric Liddell once said: “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.”
Question: What is the most challenging experience you are facing right now and what have you learned about your faith in this situation?