Friday, April 15, 2011

Facing Life's Ups and Downs -- Review

FACING LIFE’S UPS AND DOWNS: The Struggle to be Whole. By William Powell Tuck. Macon: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2010. 180 pages.

Somewhere I remember reading something like this: “It’s the daily stuff of life that makes living so tough.” That is precisely why this book can be a valuable resource for dealing with the inevitable: the ups and downs that come to all of us regardless of our situation in the human family.

Tuck addresses a wide variety of issues with sound biblical exegesis of texts, personal anecdotes, excellent illustrations, and much healthy humor. All of which are absolutely necessary when one is dealing with stress, anger, anxiety, depression, loneliness, failure, and frustration. Although countless books have been written on each of these subjects, this book presents keen and succinct insights into issues that cloud some (many?) of our days. It also reveals a deep understanding of complex problems that are dealt with in a clear and concise manner.

One of the things I most appreciated is the profound simplicity one finds in these pages. (And don’t ignore the word profound.) One is not required to have attended a seminary or passed a course in psychology to be able to gain the benefits this book offers. The writing is certainly a “good read” as the reader is led to a clear understanding of each issue under discussion. You never have to ask, “I wonder what he means by that?”

This is in no way a general “self-help” book. It is all about how our Christian faith relates to life as we know it and live it. Biblical references abound; the application of these texts is succinctly and carefully spelled out. Without being dogmatic or judgmental, the author challenges us to live our Monday through Saturday lives in the light of our Sunday affirmations of faith.

One of the most helpful aspects of this book is the vast array of suggestions for dealing with each of the “downs” discussed. These suggestions are practical and within reach of all of us. Many of them are simply reminders of what we already know but have failed to put into practice. I cannot imagine anyone who does not need such reminders.

While excellent for personal reading, this book is a splendid resource for discussion groups of all kinds. Sunday school classes immediately come to mind but I also think it would be very usable in home study groups where some of the participants are not particularly church oriented. Most people have never had the opportunity to discuss openly and honestly the subjects covered.

After reading the Bible through for the first time, a late-in-life convert confessed: “I found myself on every page except for the ‘begats.’” I will confess that I found myself on almost every page of Tuck’s book. I appreciate the honesty in his writing that does not ignore the dark and inevitable side of life – even for the Christian. But he does not leave us with the “downs.” His constant encouragements to faith (trust) and recommendations for activities and practices for life when it is low really will enable us to make genuine progress in the struggle to be whole.

Ron Higdon,
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Prospect, Kentucky

Originally published in the Spring issue of Sharing the Practice.

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