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.
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.