Book review: The Certainty of the Unexpected
by Pamela Ruth Stewart
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. –Romans 8:28
If ever there was a testament to the comfort of believing in God, this book is it. I cannot share all of Pamela’s beliefs (which are too conservative for my taste), but I rejoice in the comfort her God brings into her life, through good times and bad. I can’t help but award it five stars: warm, honest and heart-felt, this book is certain inspiration to believers.
Pamela tells of outgrowing the solemn way that was a burden to her in her childhood, into a full trust in the boundary-crossing grace of God. She grew up in the same Christian sect as I did, which she calls the One True Way to highlight its exclusiveness. No single belief system is right for everyone, and this one simply could not satisfy Pam’s spiritual needs. She found the church meetings suppressive and joyless. While she was still a child, a close friend died in an accident, who was outside the exclusive boundaries of the sect. Was this friend going to heaven or not? Pamela was distraught, until one day, God gently pointed out Proverbs 20:11 (“Even a child is known by his acts”) and Genesis 18:25 (“Should not the judge of all the earth do right?”) God’s love was greater than she had ever been taught. Still, the emotional turmoil of leaving behind the religious tradition she had been born into was very strong. Telling her parents of her change in beliefs was the hardest thing she ever did.
Choose this day whom you will serve. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt and serve the Lord—Joshua 24:14-15
Also hard was the first time Pamela attended another church. All such churches had been condemned by her former belief system. But had she never made the transition away from exclusivism, she would never have been able to draw strength from the God of grace for the greater test around the corner. Her husband contracted cancer, and began slowly wasting away.
Romans 8:28 became Pamela’s “rainbow” in a world of pain. The end result of the long, cancerous journey with her Godly husband is this book, about the goodness of God.