I recently finished a small volume entitled The Hidden Price of Greatness by Ray Beeson and Ranelda Mack Hunsicker. It is subtitled, “Encouragement from the lives of well-known Christians whose suffering produced spiritual growth.” The book, including bibliography clocks in at 169 pp.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the volume in its entirety. I read all the biographical sketches given, but Beeson and Hunsicker then offered contemplations on how we could apply biblical truths when we encounter similar dilemmas to our own lives – I read a few of these, but found them less powerful than the sketches themselves…That isn’t to say others might not get something from them, in fact, a few I skipped over had headings which interested me and to which I may return at some point.
If you are struggling, especially if you are struggling while in a position of ministry leadership – this is a good book to read – even if only for the biographical sketches.
I’m always looking for individuals from the past who have struggled in various ways with their faith – it is their biographies I want to read in full, not those who seemed to live perpetually on a mountain-top (I can’t identify). This book serves as a good jumping-off point for more deeply studying various individuals’ lives.
Here is a brief listing of the individuals covered and the challenges they faced:
- Augustine – Seeking truth and searching in all the wrong places, recognizing his inability to purify himself of sin, eventually following on the mercy of Christ.
- Susanna Wesley – Mother of John and Charles Wesley, she had significant ongoing struggles with her husband throughout their married life. John would face significant troubles in his marriage as well.
- Francis Schaeffer – Questioned his faith deeply, going back to an agnostic stance after being a leader in the evangelical Christian faith, and rebuilding everything from the ground up.
- Charles Spurgeon – Struggled with recurrent bouts of depression.
- Fanny Crosby – Death of an infant child.
- Lettie Cowman – Her husband Charles was stricken by a horrific and long-lasting illness and she spent years caring for him.
- Richard Allen – Stayed with many of his congregants in Philadelphia to help during a deadly yellow fever outbreak.
- Norman Grubb – Found his missionary zeal frustrated by another great missionary, C.T. Studd.
- Gladys Aylward – Overcoming financial impossibilities.
- George Whitefield – Loss of infant child.
- D.L. Moody – Destruction of ministry facilities in Chicago fire, personal lack of passion.
- David Brainerd – Severe tuberculosis which eventually took his life.
- John and Betty Stam – Missionaries who prepared for years to minister in China, killed within their first month there.