Book Review - Trust, Hope, Pray: Encouragement for the Task of Waiting

Image of Trust, Hope, Pray
by Luke Priebe, Trisha Priebe
Sonfire Media LLC 2011
Paperback 396

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit to being a friend of Trisha Priebe; well, in so far as those relationships from college go. But we are Facebook friends, and I’ve been anticipating this book, Trust, Hope, Pray, since I first read her status update nearly two years ago about sleeping with a book contract under her pillow.

Co-authored with her husband Luke, Trust, Hope, Pray first took shape in their personal journals while they were waiting for an international adoption to be finalized. As they sought spiritual guidance for their long, often frustrating journey, they realized that not much Christian literature is devoted to the task of waiting on God. Trisha, who works in publishing, and Luke, who is finishing his M.Div. from Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (and who together admittedly have a “book budget bigger than their grocery bill”), felt God leading them to contribute to the conversation through their own experience.

Trust, hope, pray, wait

The book is comprised of 365 page-length entries that explore what it is to trust, hope, pray, and wait. Each entry begins with a verse on one of those themes and includes the Priebe’s reflections and experiences, as well as quotes from notable Christian authors and hymn writers. In this sense, the book is designed as devotional literature and is not intended to be read in one continuous flow.

I began Trust, Hope, Pray nearly a year after my own family had been in a holding pattern of sorts and immediately recognized the wisdom of structuring the book in this way. When you are enduring a difficult season of waiting, your spirit very easily becomes worn out, overwhelmed, and exhausted. In such seasons, the last thing you are able to read is an extensive theological analysis of waiting. In these times, what you need most are daily, quiet, simple reminders of what you already know: God is in control, He loves you, and you must continue to trust Him.

And the Priebes offer just that.

Even though the book grew out of their own process of waiting for an adoption to be finalized and while there are allusions to their trials, they are never so direct that someone dealing with an entirely different trial would feel alienated from the comfort they offer. Personally, I would have loved to have read a more detailed account of their adoption story, but perhaps that will some day find its way into another book contract under Trisha’s pillow.

New directions

Still one of the more interesting things about Trust, Hope, Pray isn’t necessarily the content—though that is worthwhile—but what it represents. Trust, Hope, Pray is among the first book-length literary offerings from the “young fundamentalists.” And while there is nothing particularly distinguishing in the text itself, there is something notable about who they choose to quote. And how they do it.

The opening pages of the book pair a recommendation from Michael P.V. Barrett of the Free Presbyterian Church with one from Justin Taylor, the conservative evangelical blogger and managing editor of the ESV Study Bible. The forward is written by Dave Doran, and in the introduction, the Priebes quote from Paul David Tripp. Interspersed throughout the entries are quotes from Mark Minnick, Alan Cairns, Sam Horn, John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, and Kevin DeYoung. And these are accompanied by quotes from notables of Christianity past – Spurgeon, Tozer, Mueller, Lloyd-Jones, Wesley, Lewis, and Augustine to name a few.

I found this significant in two respects. First, it shows that the baton has passed in fundamentalism, that young fundamentalists view the baby boomer generation of Minnick, Barrett, and Doran as the elder statesmen and do not look to the leaders from previous generations. And secondly, like many young fundamentalists, the Priebes feel no need to distance themselves from the very individuals they quote. Gone are the ubiquitous disclaimers and qualifications. They quote Minnick, Horn, and Barrett with the same ease that they quote Piper, Mahaney, and Tripp and as easily as they quote Spurgeon, Tozer, and Wesley. This represents the general direction among younger fundamentalists to be less concerned with ecclesiastical divides as with finding commonality around the truth.

The rest of the story

Trust, Hope, Pray was completed and released before the Priebes reached the end of their own waiting process and they finish the book with this question: “What about the stories that do not have a happy ending?” In many ways, this is fitting because the rest of us who read it are not guaranteed that our waiting will end when we close this book either. But as they have all along, the Priebes remind us that so much of what God is accomplishing happens during the waiting and that no matter what, God will “do what is best on our behalf” (p. 363).

Within months of the book’s release, however, they finally received word that they could travel oversees and soon were united with the son they had so long loved but had yet to meet. In many ways, this too mirrors the lessons driven home throughout the book; for if they had not endured their own extensive period of waiting, we would not have been able to benefit from their insights. Ultimately then, as the Priebes tell us, we must learn to trust our sovereign God, hope in His love for us, and pray that in all things He would be glorified.

Update: To read an author interview on Hannah’s blog, click here.

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There are 21 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thanks, Hannah.
Good review and interesting perspective on the young fundamentalists. I wonder if part of the reason for the lack of disclaimers is that fundamentalists have finally figured out
a. that ministry leaders are not either safe and fully endorsable or unsafe and untouchable
b. that quoting someone isn't a blanket endorsement, anyway

I hope so. There are no perfect leaders and there are very few that have nothing at all to say that is worth reading or quoting.

Bob Hayton's picture

Yes, excellent review, Hannah. And very interesting observation about "young fundamentalists". Looks like an excellent read.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

handerson's picture

I appreciated the way the Priebes chose to quote people too. And while I'm convinced that young fundamentalists understand the things you mentioned Aaron, I'm not convinced that the previous generations have reached that point yet. This sets up young fundamentalists to be easily misunderstood by their parents' generation; what they mean nothing by (e.g. quoting conservative evangelicals), the older set will read layers of meaning into. (Bob, since you're the new reviews editor, could you fix that last sentence for me? it's not reading as smoothly as it sounded in my head.:-)

For anyone else that's interested, Trisha answers a few more questions about her and Luke's process of writing and what happened after the book's release in an interview at my http://www.sometimesalight.com/1/post/2011/09/trust-hope-pray.html blog .

Bob Hayton's picture

Thanks, Hannah. Hopefully that's better! Still learning the ropes...

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Don Johnson's picture

Quote:
And secondly, like many young fundamentalists, the Priebes feel no need to distance themselves from the very individuals they quote. Gone are the ubiquitous disclaimers and qualifications. They quote Minnick, Horn, and Barrett with the same ease that they quote Piper, Mahaney, and Tripp and as easily as they quote Spurgeon, Tozer, and Wesley. This represents the general direction among younger fundamentalists to be less concerned with ecclesiastical divides as with finding commonality around the truth.

Of those for whom this statement is true, they are well on their way to not being fundamentalists. The unifying truth of fundamentalism is contention for the faith and doing battle royal for the fundamentals. To the extent that ethos is eschewed, to that extent the 'eschewer' is not a fundamentalist.

But I wonder about the phrase "ubiquitous disclaimers and qualifications". I am not sure that this is as ubiquitous as is assumed, but it does seem to betray at least some resentment of pastoral care. As my subject line suggests, I can find "commonality around the truth" with a wide variety of people. Should I carelessly quote someone as an authority who represents an area of serious error, just because he happens to have said something I agree with at some point? What kind of care does that display for one's readers or hearers (in a sermonic context, say)? Certainly it isn't pastoral care.

Obviously there are disclaimers and disclaimers, but it is hardly a credit to say, "wow, look how mature, he/she even quotes XYZ without a disclaimer". I think it shows little regard for one's readers. Or a lack of discernment on the part of the writer.

However, why do I bother? The younger fundamentalists have moved beyond concern about ecclesiastical divisions. (As if they don't matter.)

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

handerson's picture

I agree with you to a degree. I recently sat through a sermon series where a very conservative pastor quoted Peter Enns without disclaimer and it concerned me a great deal. It is pastoral care to quote with qualification when there is legitimate danger involved.

However, I do think the extent that past Fundamentalists have unnecessarily distanced themselves from brothers (my understanding of "commonality" is very narrow) has actually led to legitimate disclaimers falling on deaf ears. If you feel the necessity to distance yourself from say MacArthur in your writing and preaching, your warnings about Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyers will carry little weight.

And I do think for a certain generation, there has been a culture of ubiquitous disclaimers. And a lot of it, IMHO, has been driven by a fear of man -- an unwillingness to be marked or deemed by the rest of the network as straying outside the fold. Hence the careful process of distancing ourselves and not being honest enough to say I benefited from so and so.

handerson's picture

Been thinking about my last comment this morning and wanted to make clear that I do not mean that all disclaimers are driven by a "fear of man." Just that in culture that values association so strongly, it's easy for us to distance ourselves as a means of protecting ourselves. No ill will intended.

Don Johnson's picture

No ill will taken.

My point, however, is that the unwillingness to hold to the ecclesiastical distinctions is a failure to appreciate what fundamentalism is and consequently leads to a rejection of fundamentalism as such. No fundamentalism without contention.

As for disclaimers, I have used stuff from MacArthur, with disclaimers along the lines of: "MacArthur doesn't stand exactly where we stand" or "there are some areas of significant difference but..."

For Osteen, I would NEVER use anything of his. Period. I would expose him and oppose him as a dangerous heretic.

I think there is a big difference and it isn't really that hard for the person in the pew to get it.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

L Strickler's picture

My father was once the 1950s equivalent of a YF. He was sure his alma mater was wrong to take a stand against Billy Graham. He thought the Dr. Bobs were very wrong until he went to the New York City campaign and saw for himself that apostasy was honored and converts were sent back into false teaching. As time went on, Dad realized that he could no longer call his conservative youth ministry a Youth for Christ and so the name was changed. His own experiences and the Word of God taught him to earnestly contend for the faith. I have hope for the YFs that sometimes make me nervous. The Word and the Lord will use experiences to teach them proper separation.

As he aged, Dad became more and more of a separatist. But he also began to assume that all the young men should just know why they had to be in certain circles and not venture off the reservation. He sometimes saw the younger generation as liberal or weak. I wonder if our fundamental colleges have failed to properly communicate the history of fundamentalism in terms of loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and not to man made circles.

I know YFs who love Christ and His Word. They contend for the faith locally, even if they aren't worried about issues 1,000 miles away. They have been disappointed by some fundamentalists of my generation who seem to be more worried about religious politics than praying with their younger colleagues. The YFs who stand against false teaching and evil practices in their own churches have often experienced great heartache. They have been forced from churches and have not received support from older men who should understand. There is an assumption that the YF's are "soft" when they are really courageous in their desire to be Biblical. When faced with issues that need a stand, they take it. They just don't want to play politics or be tied to circles. They don't want to be unnecessarily contentious. I am hopeful that God will use this new generation to proclaim Christ and stand against false teachers.

As to the main topic, this devotional book sounds like a great reminder that "The Lord is good; a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows them that trust in Him." Nahum 1:7

L Strickler

JoshuaDGraw's picture

I have been a "lurker" on SI for some time, but I was finally pushed over the edge to register and comment today after reading Don Johnson's response to the review of Trust, Hope, Pray. I would be considered a "young fundamentalist" and have a personal interest in the direction of my peers.

I find several things disheartening about Mr. Johnson's response(s). First of all, let us return to the reality that we don't really know what the authors had in mind when they excluded extensive disclaimers from their book. We have surmised that they did it for a number of reasons, even alluding that they are ... "well on their way to not being fundamentalists." It could be anything from a publisher's decision to an oversight to a who-knows-what. Not including a disclaimer says little more than ... they did not include a disclaimer.

It is my opinion that one of the reasons the "old fundamentalism" is at risk for driving the "young fundamentalists" away is because of language like Mr. Johnson used (which, unfortunately, is not unique to him). A young couple who wrote a book (not about fundamentalism) and because they didn't burden it with disclaimers, the discussion has strayed to whether or not they are in danger of leaving fundamentalism. Really? What about the fact that the book is FULL OF THE GOSPEL. Or is that a moot point? Has fundamentalism become so much about who is defending or not defending whom that we've lost sight of what is most important?

Mr. Johnson asks,

Quote:
"Should I carelessly quote someone as an authority who represents an area of serious error, just because he happens to have said something I agree with at some point? What kind of care does that display for one's readers or hearers (in a sermonic context, say)? Certainly it isn't pastoral care."

This book is not a sermon. This couple is not practicing pastoral care. But larger than that, quoting someone is not giving a full or public endorsement of the individual. To quote anyone human is to necessitate disclaimers. If fundamentalists believe that being a fundamentalist is the ticket to not needing disclaimers, that raises serious questions about the true nature of fundamentalism and the people who belong to it.

Quote:
However, why do I bother? The younger fundamentalists have moved beyond concern about ecclesiastical divisions. (As if they don't matter.)

This last comment, to me, is saddest of all. With the broadest brush in the basket, Mr. Johnson has painted an entire group of young people the same way. If the strategy is to turn young fundamentalists away by categorically criticizing them and their attempts to spread the gospel and love Christ, well ... it's working.

handerson's picture

Josh:

I appreciate your point that the Priebe's book is not about fundamentalism and that not including disclaimers may mean little more than they didn't include disclaimers. I agree that had they added anything, it would have distracted from their main point as it has for so long in other fundamentalist writings. In essence, the process of qualification can teach your audience that the need to qualify the differences between brothers is more significant than what makes us brothers in the first place.

BUT... the Priebe's not qualifying is a significant departure from the way that fundamentalists have traditionally handled quoting sources and that is worth noting. The change is telling, not the impact that the lack of disclaimers has on the book itself.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
BUT... the Priebe's not qualifying is a significant departure from the way that fundamentalists have traditionally handled quoting sources and that is worth noting. The change is telling, not the impact that the lack of disclaimers has on the book itself.

It depends on which branch of fundamentalism that one came from. I grew up going to several GARBC churches (my father was a music pastor for several decades at several churches) and I am still a member of a GARBC church. I don't remember any disclaimers in books that I read that came from my branch of fundamentalism and I don't remember any coming from the pulpit. I do remember some coming from my pastor who was mentoring me in some one-on-one situations and small group situations. I remember some coming from certain professors who wanted to make sure that we were "eating the chicken, but spitting out the bones" of those Christians that come from a broader evangelical context. Disclaimers don't necessarily have to come from books or from the pulpit to teach people discernment.

Don Johnson's picture

JoshuaDGraw wrote:
First of all, let us return to the reality that we don't really know what the authors had in mind when they excluded extensive disclaimers from their book.

First, I wasn't really commenting on the book, more commenting on Hannah's observation. I was making an observation about her observation. I haven't read the book and was not/am not making a comment about the book.

JoshuaDGraw wrote:
A young couple who wrote a book (not about fundamentalism) and because they didn't burden it with disclaimers, the discussion has strayed to whether or not they are in danger of leaving fundamentalism. Really? What about the fact that the book is FULL OF THE GOSPEL. Or is that a moot point? Has fundamentalism become so much about who is defending or not defending whom that we've lost sight of what is most important?

Again, not commenting on the book at all.

But really... just saying something is full of the Gospel? Is that now a trump card that shuts down discussion? Billy Graham is/was full of the Gospel too. I guess no one should have ever said anything about him either?

JoshuaDGraw wrote:

Mr. Johnson asks,
...

Quote:
However, why do I bother? The younger fundamentalists have moved beyond concern about ecclesiastical divisions. (As if they don't matter.)

This last comment, to me, is saddest of all. With the broadest brush in the basket, Mr. Johnson has painted an entire group of young people the same way. If the strategy is to turn young fundamentalists away by categorically criticizing them and their attempts to spread the gospel and love Christ, well ... it's working.

Uhh... please drop the "Mr. Johnson" bit. "Don" is fine.

Actually, it was Hannah's comment that painted the picture this way. Are you saying that Hannah's description is incorrect?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

handerson's picture

in all of this is the phenomenon of simply NOT quoting people to avoid association altogether. In this respect, I'm referencing Joel's experience. This is an honest question: was it that you didn't hear many disclaimers because you didn't hear people outside your own circles being quoted often?

And there is no escaping the fact that my own experience is crucial to my perspective as well. I guess I feel like I had a fairly broad fundamentalist background, influenced in my formative years by everything from Hyles to BJ. And what I experienced was a constant couching of quotations and sources, both in public and private, and I rarely got the impression that it was from pastoral care. It seemed more like looking over one's shoulder lest anyone think we were straying across ecclesiastical lines of separation. (I realize that this could have been an impression formed by the broader context of guilt by association.)

Regardless, THAT is what I was addressing - not the need to offer pastoral counsel or guidance about a certain author or teacher (even evangelicals do that :-)), but the unwillingness to use a quote because of how other people in your circles would view it. And that is where YF are not concerned with qualification or disclaimer. They are not as concerned that people would associate them with a certain person; they are not as concerned with possibly been seen as straying outside the lines of demarcation; they simply are not as bound to the group as much as they seem bound to fundamental truths that cross group lines.

Perhaps I could have explained that more clearly in the review... but then we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
My point, however, is that the unwillingness to hold to the ecclesiastical distinctions is a failure to appreciate what fundamentalism is and consequently leads to a rejection of fundamentalism as such. No fundamentalism without contention.

Hannah's point (as I understood it)... somewhere up the thread.. was that if we are contentious (whether in the form of quotation disclaimers or just generally) about brothers over minor differences, our over all potency in contending for the faith is diminished--somewhat along the lines of the boy who cried wolf.

My experience growing up fundamentalist was that the pastors in the churches we attended (some GARBC, some not) were usually focused on bringing the demands of the biblical text to bear on our lives. I don't remember much quotation or disclaimer, either one. But preaching isn't the same activity as writing books.
But during those years, I heard plenty of other preachers in school chapel or visiting evangelists etc. who were very much focused on Who Cannot Be Trusted and Who Is Headed in the Wrong Direction, etc. Much more so when I went to college, because the BJU chapel pulpit and "Preacher boys" classes featured way too much of that sort of thing.

But I don't remember there ever being a time in my life when I thought a quotation in a book needed a disclaimer. I grant that there could be circumstances where it's a good idea, and I've probably done it myself in some paper or essay or whatever... knowing it would be important to the audience.
In a piece of writing you can usually tell how the writer is using the material being quoted and that speaks well enough. It's not about randomly quoting people because, as Don put it, we happen to agree, but choosing material where a truth is particularly well expressed.
(Or, depending on the nature of the writing, choosing material where what we are arguing for/against is particularly well expressed.)

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Other than Scripture itself, I assume a disclaimer whenever anyone is quoted. It is unfortunate that this doesn't go without saying, but in an intellectually and spiritually lazy society, more pastors are handing out binkies and bottles than steak knives.

M. Osborne's picture

I clicked to read the discussion to glean what I could about waiting on God day after day (since I expect a brief waiting period while aspects of my future are decided), and the discussion has centered on something incidental to the book's topic.

It's why I've largely dropped out of SI discussions unless I think either I or the other participants can actually benefit from the discussion.

Musing on 1 Timothy 1, I think one distinguishing factor between the "endless genealogies" discussions and worthwhile Christian dialectic is whether or not anyone's actually benefiting. Do we think discussing this question here, for the umpteenth time, is going to help anyone? Maybe I'm too pessimistic, but I don't think so.

Anyway, Hannah, it's good to read your reflections. Praying for you and Nathan and family. The catch of endurance training is it can't be learned quickly, and brilliance or theological insight or spiritual giftedness is no help. There is no one but God to rely on, which is the way He likes it.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

... almost never stick closely to the general topic of the book. There are a couple of reasons for that:
1) If the book is fairly new, few have read it yet
2) The general topic of the book is, well, general... and tends to not be all that interesting in itself. It's how the book develops the topic that gets interesting.
3) The thread is properly about the review and not just about the book.

In this case, Hannah drew some attention to an item of importance to fundamentalists in particular... and one worth talking about, too, since what we believe about it impacts what we read, how we read it, what we encourage others to read, the relationships between writers and other writers, our concept of separation ... as well as the obvious "what is the future of the fundamentalist identity?" question.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
This is an honest question: was it that you didn't hear many disclaimers because you didn't hear people outside your own circles being quoted often?

Good question......I really had to go back and try to remember that. In the past GARBC, there was a lot of quoting each other.....For many years, GARBC conferences only had GARBC pastors and "approved" school presidents and mission executives preaching at their conferences. I do remember alot of quoting of more well known GARBC leaders (Ketcham, and etc.....). At the same time, in the 1980's and early 1990's I remember GARBC preachers freely quoting from popular evangelical leaders such as Chuck Swindoll, Warren Wiersbe, John MacArthur, and Joe Stowell Jr. without any disclaimers.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
Other than Scripture itself, I assume a disclaimer whenever anyone is quoted. It is unfortunate that this doesn't go without saying, but in an intellectually and spiritually lazy society, more pastors are handing out binkies and bottles than steak knives.
:bigsmile:

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