Mini-Review: Being Well When We’re Ill by Marva Dawn

This is one of the more complete books on suffering that I’ve read, and pertains directly to dealing with chronic suffering. The book is thoroughly Biblical and steeped in Scripture. And although I disagree with much of her theology (I’m Reformed, she’s an Arminian brand of Lutheran or something along those lines), most of that is secondary. She repeats some terms like Trinitarian God and meta-narrative ad nauseum, but that’s a minor nitpick.

Marva Dawn is someone who suffers from multiple chronic conditions herself, so she speaks from experience and this is part of why the book is thorough. She offers words of comfort, encouragement and sympathy but doesn’t go too far. The book is very well organized and edited, with just the right amount of words. She writes equally about physical and psychological suffering from an orthodox Christian perspective. Despite a few catch phrases that I don’t like (going along with some of the theology I disagree with), Dawn knows her Scripture and it’s evident that she is good with using it in context and interpreting it well while applying it to the situation of a sufferer.

I would recommend this very complete, encouraging, educational and Scriptural book to anyone who is suffering, wants to understand those who do, or anyone who just wrestles with the subject.

Marva Dawn

A couple of quotes:

One of my biggest problems in dealing with the breakdown of my body is that I keep looking in the wrong direction. I look to the past and the capabilities I once had, instead of looking to the future and what I will someday become in the presence and by the grace of God. Perhaps that is the strongest temptation for you too. Our culture reinforces that mistake by its refusal to talk about heaven, as if it were an old-fashioned and outdated notion. We also intensify the problem by craving present health (as limited as it can be) more than we desire God.

A friend once said to me. “This is so hard getting old—there are so many things we can‘t do any more. I guess the Lord wants to teach us something.” Indeed, our bodies will never be what they previously were, and we find that difficult because we miss our former activities. But God wants to teach us to hunger for Him, our greatest treasure. Instead of rejecting the notion of heaven, we genuinely ache in our deepest self to fill that concept with a larger landscape of the Joy of basking in God‘s presence.

–Marva Dawn, Being Well When We’re Ill, pg 231

On feeling guilty about lack of ‘productivity’:

In a time of infirmity, the illness IS one’s work. Taking care of all the disciplines that our health problems require IS the other part of the small daily fidelity to which we are called, beside the faithfulness of being attentive to God. We can be well simply by our diligence in being who we are at the moment.

–Marva Dawn, Being Well When We’re Ill, pg 137

2 Responses to “Mini-Review: Being Well When We’re Ill by Marva Dawn”


  1. 1 Eric

    I recently got this book based on one of your earlier blogs & just started it – I really like it so far. I’m struck by the fact that she really speaks from the heart & knows the subject matter personally. That’s what drew me to your blog & why I like to read Joni Eareckson Tada so much. Thanks for the review. Eric

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    You’re welcome. I hope the book really helps you. Someday I want to list what I’ve read and make a comment about each of them, or build an Amazon store, but it’s not exactly a popular subject.
    Jeff

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