I expected As Silver Refined to be about God's sovereignty and it is. Kay Arthur first addresses what she has labeled the "deadly D's", which obviously escalate in their effect:
The downward spiral begins...with disappointment. Disappointment comes when our expectations aren't met. Consequently we're not happy about it--we're disturbed.
When this happens and we don't conquer that disappointment in God's way, then we spin downward into discouragement. We're without courage. We want to give up. We want to quit because we're disheartened. We're ready to run rather than deal with the situation...
And what follows discouragement? Depression in its varying degrees.
The first "degree" of depression is dejection--a lowness of spirit, a feeling of spiritual and emotional fatigue.
If not reversed this dejection takes us down even further, plunging us into despair and finally into utter demoralization. At this stage of descent, hope is entirely abandoned and is replaced by apathy and numbness. Fear becomes overwhelming and paralyzing and can degenerate further into disorder and reckless action that is heedless of consequences.
It's war, Kay asserts, and we must be wise to our enemy's strategy in employing these "deadly D's" to keep us from the joyous obedience and confident victory that is rightly ours. Beginning with disappointment, Kay speaks to our common experiences of failures, regrets and stress, developing a contrast with the Biblical call to meekness. It is in the discussion of meekness that Kay begins to build on the theme of a sovereign God who grants peace to those who choose to trust Him. We can know that He is the Refiner and He uses trials and disappointments as His fire to refine believers as silver (1 Pet. 1:7).
From disappointment, Kay moves through the remaining "deadly D's," warning the reader of the spiraling nature of defeat that will accompany each and offering hope and grace to those struggling with that issue. In every point and every prescription Kay is careful to direct the reader to the Word of God and to Jesus.
Furthering the war metaphor, Kay encourages those struggling with any one of the "D's" to submit in faith to their good and gracious King, to stay in constant communication through His Word, to pray without ceasing and to obey fully His commands. His promises are our security and His Word our weapon to defeat the lies of the enemy. Included with the book is a thirteen week companion Bible study offering further exploration of these truths.
Interspersed throughout the book are stories from Kay's life and others as well as letters from readers and participants in Kay's studies who affirm the Lord's sovereignty and testify of the power of God's living Word to bring hope in very desperate circumstances.
In fact, if I have any real quibble with the book, it is that it is more conversational than instructive. Don't get me wrong; there is plenty of teaching here and good teaching too. It seemed to me, however, to be the sort of instruction one might receive over coffee with an older, wiser friend. Rather than bullet points and sub-points and main points, it meanders a little, sometimes tediously relating all sorts of good things and good stories in the midst of telling you the main thing, if that makes sense. As I said, it's not a critique so much as it is an observation.
There is hope for the hopeless, glory to God, and As Silver Refined offers both hope and grace for those caught in the desperate cycle of disappointment and defeat. I may have thought it was a little long and perhaps lacked clarity of presentation but on the whole I was greatly encouraged by this book.
Note: I was given a copy of this book by the publisher; my review reflects my honest opinion.