Book Review: Love Letters from the Edge

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This has been one of the hardest books I have formally reviewed. Before I begin my review, let me just say that there were countless times throughout the reading of this work where I wept alongside these women (Romans 12:15). The struggles and difficulties associated with PTSD are real, and I have sat across from women much like those speaking in this book and have watched them as they have wept broken. I have had the privilege of speaking into such women’s lives and I have also seen the power of the Spirit transform women from broken vessels into marvelous trophies of grace!

One of the tragedies of most Christian bookstores is the abundance of books they have, promising “get your best life now” versus the miniscule amount of resources they offer relating to suffering and depression. The truth is that life is filled with hurt and pain. The Christian faith does not promise that real life experiences will not happen. The Gospel empowers Christians to not be ruled by their pain but the Gospel also recognizes that pain, hurt, and trauma is a reality of living in a fallen world. David, who was a man after God’s own heart, wrote some of the most praiseful songs ever written. David also had many nights where he cried out,

“Save me, O God!

For the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in deep mire,

where there is no foothold;

I have come into deep waters,

and the flood sweeps over me.

I am weary with my crying out;

my throat is parched.

My eyes grow dim

with waiting for my God… (Psalm 69)”

It is this cry of the heart that this book, Love Letters from the Edge seeks to speak into. It is also here that this book’s greatest strengths and weaknesses also shine forth. There is such a need for books like this in the realm of Christian publishing. Pop-psychology has its methods of dealing with PTSD and some of them are very good, but ultimately, they do not seek to help people develop a renewed mind according to scripture and a reinvigorated soul. Christians know that the Word of God is the critical means the Lord has provided for giving his people rest and solace in the midst their difficulties. Many times, however, the biggest problem when ministering towards people who have experienced past trauma, is getting them to the Word of God so that they may feed their hearts and minds on its eternal food. Very often, when a person is experiencing extreme depression or anxiety, they do not feel like feasting at all! Rather, they dwell on the things that oppress them and instead of feasting on Christ and His word, they feast on the memories of painful experiences and that food is like poison to the stomach.

This book, Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for those struggling with Brokenness, Truama, and the Pain of Life is very helpful in providing the necessary hope for the hungry Christian, who is starving for God, but is too weak or discouraged to come to him. Whenever I do counseling, especially dealing with issues as deep as the ones discussed in this book, I will always begin the first few sessions saturating the person in the hope of God and the Gospel. This book is excellent in how it provides hope for women who are struggling due to the various traumas they have experienced in their lives. I really want to recommend this book as a means of providing hope to women who struggle with PTSD. However, there is one serious problem with this book that makes me recommending it difficult.

The book begins by introducing the two authors. Both authors seem to be amazing women who have testimonies of trauma in their own lives. Both of these women appear to be more than capable of speaking hope into the lives of other women who are experiences similar things. These women have the unique opportunity to speak hope into broken lives and through that hope, point these women to God’s Word! Unfortunately, that is not the route they chose to take. The material in this work is not presented as two seasoned women speaking into the lives of other women. Rather, the format of the book is God writing letters back to these women. As a Christian biblical counselor, this approach is troubling and, unfortunately, takes away so much potential this book had for being as effective as it could have been. I want to stress that I really appreciate and honor these women. I am so thankful for the Spirit in the lives of these ladies, as well as, for their willingness and desire to serve others. However, they missed a significant opportunity with this book. The book would be exponentially more beneficial if these ladies sought to write it as friends to these struggling ladies rather than as “God”. The approach they took is unhelpful, unnecessary, and even strange for the following reasons:

1.     It undermines Scripture’s sufficiency (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible is the Word of God and in being so, is the source of comfort, peace, and restoration. David in his Psalms repeatedly speaks about how the Word of God brings comfort to his soul in dark hours. When Satan tempted Jesus, Christ recited Scripture. The goal of counseling is never to draw people away from the Word but to give them hope that propels them into it. Once they are feasting on the Word, you help them apply its medicine to their soul and through that see healing.

2.     Because this book presents the response letters as being the Words of God, it will lead weak saints into seeking the kind of solace in the pages of this book that can only be found in the pages of the Bible. If the authors wrote the book and responded to the women’s questions themselves with biblical wisdom, it would encourage, build-up, and ultimately assist in helping the women fall into the arms of God as he is revealed in His word. Spiritually-weak people who are desperate to hear from God could potentially place too much weight on the words in this book and in so doing ignore the true fountain of God’s revelation.

This may seem like minor grievances but, unfortunately, they are not. God’s Word, rightly applied, does have the power to not only sooth past trauma but also to change lives radically! Any book that has the potential to distract a person from the Word is not helpful in the long run. Do not get me wrong, I think many people will be greatly helped by this book. I pray that many Christian women will read this book and be tremendously comforted by it. However, I truly wish the authors chose to write as sisters in Christ to other sisters rather than as the Word of God. After all, revelation says that the saints of God will prevail over the prince of this world by, “the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11).”

The benefits of the book are twofold. For one, the content and counsel given to women are splendid. I don’t think there is anything significantly wrong with the content itself. I just wish it was presented as counsel from people who are fallible rather than from God who is infallible. To the degree that the authors are being faithful to scripture, the authors should not feel the need to have to present their words as God speaking rather than themselves giving Biblical advice. The second major benefit of the book is the structure. I think the way it is structures is very helpful. First, the sufferer writes their thoughts and then counsel is provided. “by God.” After the encouragement, the authors have two other sections. The third section is titled, “hope on the edge” which is a section that asks application questions regarding the counsel that was just given. The fourth and final section is called “Heart Cry” which is a section that presents a prayer that the reader can give in light of the information they just worked through. This is a very wise and helpful format that I think readers will find very beneficial.

I would truly like to recommend this book but due to the “God speaking” dynamic I cannot whole-heartedly recommend it. Anyone who reads this book should first hear this caution: “The words communicated in this book are not the words of God speaking to you but are rather the words of these two ladies. God speaks through His scripture, and the Scriptures are filled with everything you need to not only be comforted but also to be changed! You should allow this book to provide you hope but ultimately you must come to God’s word. You must also be willing to examine the words of these authors according to the Scriptures.”

If you are in Christ, you are no longer a product of your past! Beloved, if you are in Christ, the old you has passed away and you are completely new! You. Are. New! It may be difficult to accept, but the truth is, the new you is not a victim of abuse, but the daughter of the most high God who is pure and undefiled in Christ. Christ has set his affections upon you before the foundations of the world. Christ died for you knowing not only the abuse you would experience, but also the sin you would bring to the table. By faith in His Son, he has made you a new creature! (Romans 6)

Beloved, here the covenant promise of the Lord for his people as it is spoken of in Jeremiah 32:40, “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul”

 

In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

About Kyle James Howard

My name is Kyle, I am married to my “high-school sweetheart” and we have 3 children. I have a 7 year-old daughter (Hadassah), a 2 year-old son (Jonah), and 1 year old (Kesed). I am 32 years old and I am currently a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have an Associates degree in Biblical & Theological Studies, A B.S. in Biblical Counseling, and I am finishing up an Advanced M. Div in Historical Theology. Click on the "About Me" link at the top of my home page to read my full testimony.

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