Beyond the Shallow: How Suffering Led Me to the Deep End of Grace
Paperback – November 15, 2019
by Michelle Bates
Suffering. Even the word incites a cringe. Nobody wants to suffer. Nobody signs up for heartache and pain. A "good" life might be summarized as one without suffering. But that's not how life works.
Michelle Bates and her family have suffered greatly, more than the "average suffering."
I knew of Michelle and her family in about 2003/2004 because of our church, a big network of Christians in the Seattle area. We got to know one another a little bit, but I mostly watched them from afar as they walked through deep suffering. We met a few times, had similar interests such as homeschooling and writing. We followed the same blogger and connected a bit through that.
They moved away from Seattle but social media kept me informed and I watched/read as even more suffering came their way. I grieved for them, feeling scared if such awful things were to also happen to my family. I remember reading about their loss, feeling horrible as I had just earlier grumbled at God about the five precious ones he had given me.
Knowing a lot of their story, I knew what to expect as I sat down to read her book, Beyond the Shallow: How Suffering Let Me to the Deep End of Grace. I did not expect wading into grace, up and over my head.
Every page of Michelle's book swims in the grace of Jesus. Michelle's "coffee-date" style makes it feel like she is across a table from you telling the story. She alternates between story and Bible study, sharing specific Bible passages that either grated her in her suffering or encouraged her. She shares common mindsets or understandings of God that many of her readers may relate to, and I certainly did. Not grand theological truths, which she does get to in the story, but raw and ugly beliefs about God. Truths which people in suffering feel. "Do good, get good," was her mantra, which was later sunken in grace by her suffering.
God's grace is bigger than we even imagine, His ocean of grace deep and all-enveloping.
We all experience suffering, and it's not because we did something wrong--our suffering being a kind of punishment. God's not like that. Michelle's story shows the deep anguish suffering brings, and whether that suffering is the loss of a child or the let-down of expectation, God works through it and because of it.
I'll leave the specifics of Michelle's story for you to read for yourself. It's worth it. I would highly recommend Michelle's book, which will be released on November 15. You can preorder it on Amazon here.