This past week on the same day two books arrived from Arabia written more than a century apart. No, the Post Office isn't that slow. Actually, they were both written in Arabia--one published in 1902 and the other in 2018. The newest is by my friend Dave Furman. His just-released book is Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials. The title is drawn from a quote from Charles Spurgeon: "I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages."

Dave writes powerfully from a biblical perspective and from his own painful journey. This book makes much of Christ, a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," and it also makes much of the saving, sufficient, sustaining grace of Jesus--even through hard questions and unanswered prayers. For Dave, even the writing of this book was done through added physical pain, but the result to all of us is a gift that shines Gospel light in the valleys of brokenness and sorrow through which we all walk. This video offers a glimpse into the physical and emotional trials that this pastor and his family face as they serve Christ in a hard place.

The second book that arrived in the mail was from a used book service through which I had tracked down a first edition of one of Samuel Zwemer's earliest books. In 1902, he and his wife Amy co-authored Topsy-Turvy World: Arabia Pictured for Children. This illustrated book presents the people, places, customs, and Gospel needs of the Arabian Peninsula. This region of the world, the epicenter of Islam was barely known to the Church. The Zwemers intended to put in on the map and to appeal to the next generation of Gospel risk-takers to go there.

In the conclusion of the book, there is a passage that has always been a favorite of mine--one that held special significance during my time in Afghanistan when there was much loss and many setbacks:

“When you read in reports of troubles and opposition, of burning up books, imprisoning colporteurs, and expelling workers, you must not think that the Gospel is being defeated. It is conquering. What we see under such circumstances is only the dust in the wake of the ploughman. God is turning the world upside down that it may be right side up when Jesus comes. He that plougheth should plough in hope. We may not be able to see a harvest yet in this country, but furrow after furrow, the soil is getting ready for the seed.”