Never Beyond Hope is the sort of book that not only provides an opportunity to learn from one of the premier evangelical theologians of our day, it also provides an opportunity to reflect with others on what he has written. The book consists of eight character studies by J. I. Packer, including chapters on Samson, Jacob, Manoah’s wife, Jonah, Martha, Thomas, Simon Peter, and Nehemiah. And each chapter ends with questions for reflection and discussion written by Carolyn Nystrom.
“A truth of which healthy growing Christians become more and more aware is that God is transcendently great and the human individual by comparison is infinitely insignificant,” Packer writes in the Introduction. “God, we realize, can get on very well without any of us. So it should give us an overwhelming sense of privilege that not only has he made, loved and saved us but also he takes us as his working partners for advancing his plans.” This grace is all the more breathtaking, of course, because to use us means he uses flawed and imperfect servants. “And none of us is excluded,” Packer adds, “for Scripture shows God using the oddest, rawest, most lopsided and flawed of his children to further his work, at the same time as he carries on his sanctifying strategy for getting them into better moral and spiritual shape… In this book we shall see God dealing with Samson the womanizer, Jacob the cheat, hot-tempered Nehemiah, diffident Mrs. Manoah, bossy noisy Martha and quiet passive Mary, Jonah the pig-headed patriot, Thomas the stupid-smart professional pessimist, and impulsive, warm-hearted, unstable Simon Peter.”
The fact that God uses the likes of us is so glorious that to grasp it is to worship in humility and awe. To study it is to meditate on and learn of grace. To be convinced of it is to be filled with hope.
Use Never Beyond Hope for your own personal devotions. And use it in a small group, so that the grace of which it speaks can ripple out into the community of God’s people.