Actually, four books (also sort of...)
From the time I started taking writing more seriously, one group that has encouraged me and repeatedly given me a platform is Sisterhood (once Sisterhood YXE, now Sisterhood Ministries Canada). From one-off devotionals to blog and social media posts and even a larger project or two, I've been so honoured by how they've trusted and affirmed me and have given me opportunities larger than I might have gone for or been able to pursue on my own.
It therefore feels fitting to have started and completed the Rooted mentorship books by their prompting and under their leadership. While I did do the writing, it was not a solo project. The group of women leading Sisterhood were the ones that came up with the idea for a mentorship program, and they were the ones that decided the initial direction for it. I was just one part of the team two years ago that worked on putting the first draft of the program and books together, and even though this new version has seen a lot of revising and reshaping, it's still firmly built on the heart that those original women had to see it come to fruition, and follows the path that they set out for it.
So what is Rooted, and what's in the books that go along with it? Instead of going into too much detail here, it's probably best to check out the website for the full explanation. But what I will do is provide a little preview below with one of the primers I've written for the topics discussed in the book.
As someone who has been part of the Rooted program herself, I can tell you that it's been such an encouragement and has made such a difference in this past year (shout out to my lovely and wonderful sunshine of a mentor, Esther!). While I am really proud of the books and am excited to share them with you all here, I hope that seeing this post might prompt some of you to also consider being part of Rooted with Sisterhood, and that it would make the same difference to you as it has to me.
And while Rooted is for us women, Anchored, the men's version is already on its way (that's where the other two books come in to make the four books total). We're actually looking for some men who would be willing to go through it sort of as a test run this year, so if that's you, let me know! Or if you have any other questions on Rooted on any of this, get in touch with me about that too!
Anyway, without further ado, the book preview.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
ISAIAH 43:2 NIV
Sometimes it can seem as though we live in a world filled to its saturation point with suffering. Sooner or later we will all experience it in our lives, and even when we are personally spared, the prevalence of suffering in the lives of those around us or on the nightly news may still pull our hearts into depths of weeping and wrestling with God.
Is there any escape? Will God not have mercy on us?
In Elie Wiesel’s haunting Holocaust memoir, Night, he recounts witnessing the hanging of a young boy in the concentration camp he was imprisoned in. Because the child was so malnourished, his body weight wasn’t enough to weigh him down in the noose, so, as if not already horrific enough, the boy was slowly suffering in agony as his death was being drawn out far longer than it would have taken for a normal healthy person. As the prisoners were forced to watch the torturous scene, in horror and despair, one of them broke and cried
out, “Where is God? Where is God?”
Elie, almost unaware of his own voice, replied to the man, “Where is He? Here He is—hanging on the gallows.”*
Though readers may argue about exactly what Elie meant in his statement, he may have been more theologically astute than he realized. For it is exactly when we are in the deepest moments of our suffering that God is often most tightly and prominently in our midst. Jesus was known as the Man of Sorrows, after all, and of all the people He could have dedicated His time to, He specifically chose to spend most of his days with the sinners, the outcasts, the sick, the dying, the demon-possessed, the judged and rejected, the poor, and the lost.
It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance. LUKE 5:31 NIV
But it is not only that Jesus seems to prefer the company of the suffering, or that, as we find in the Old Testament, God has a special heart and sensitivity for those who are beaten down, taken advantage of, and who cry out to Him for mercy. As wonderful as that is, there is a
truth deeper than that for us to lean on.
Do we forget that we worship a God who Himself suffered? A God who bled? Whose hands still bear the scars of his friends’ betrayal, his followers’ fickleness, the injustice of a social system corrupted and bent against Him? The Creator of Life who looked out, hanging
half-murdered on a cross, put there by hands His holy hands formed, listening to taunts breathed out by those to whom He gave the breath of life?
So, where is God in our suffering? He is right there with us, not even just beside us but within us, knowing and experiencing the full weight of it, weeping along and already working for our ultimate healing. Whether or not He miraculously heals the situation in an instant,
He has never left you alone, or put anything on you that He doesn’t fully know and understand Himself. Our Man of Sorrows puts no burden on anyone greater than
the burden of suffering He himself has already borne.
And while He offers Himself as divine company throughout your time of suffering, be sure to remember that He offers His community of saints in the church to be His hands, feet, and words in real and tangible ways as well. They are a glorious blessing from Him, and we
mutually bless one another when we give and receive the care that is needed in times of suffering. Accept and lean into the holy gift that they are.
There are no words that can make the pain of suffering disappear. That is not what ought to be attempted here. But what can be shared, what can hopefully be of comfort, is the truth that you are not alone, no matter what you are going through. You are loved, both by
your Heavenly Father, and by a faith family that wants to come alongside you and walk with you as long as you need them. And though it’s true that the people in our lives may sometimes require grace and patience in the care they show for us, and occasionally may
not understand or know what to say, this is never the case with God. He knows you fully, inside and out, He knows your suffering, inside and out, and there’s nothing that you’re going through that He hasn’t been through before or skipped out on experiencing with you. He is the Comforter, the Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace, the Man of Sorrows, and the King of Kings, and He is here for you in this moment, knowing your suffering, and bearing the brunt of the burden along with you in His everlasting, mighty arms.
*Inspired by N.T. Wright, in Episode #32 of his podcast, Ask N.T. Wright Anything