Excerpt: 'The Cure for the Chronic Life' by Deanna Favre and Shane Stanford

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But what about the other side of that language? What about a God who provides answers for our questions, possibilities for our uncertainties, and a new story for the unrecognizable avenues of grace and hope in each of our lives? This book answers those questions and provides a picture of hope in spite of our aches and pains—emotionally, relationally, physically, or spiritually. And if that wasn't enough, God's wonderful gift to us through Christ not only addresses these old hurts, habits, and hang-ups, but it also gives us a new path and a new opportunity for grace and healing. More than any- thing, God's gift and promise to us in Christ is the reason we wrote the book—that God's redeeming love will meet the deepest of our questions and help us begin again. Wouldn't you like to start over?

In fact, the unanswered life can be as simple as a spiritual ache or as complicated as a debilitating disease. It may be as simple as a bad attitude or as complex as a broken or betrayed relationship. Either way, the effects often become habitual and infectious in how we make life decisions and, especially, how we connect with others. This book describes how disconnection, disaffection, and misdirection from life's choices ultimately create more damage than any physical illness could.

The "unanswered life" of broken relationships or misguided intentions, of habitual patterns of poor decisions, or of the wrong answers from the start invariably disrupts our relationships with God and with one another, because, as the effects grow, our natural tendency is to turn "inward" (the original dilemma from the garden of Eden) and to focus more and more on our own self-interests. Relationships become difficult for us, and we struggle to connect to God in the ways he would have us grow in and serve him. But, more intricately, we also struggle to become who God has so lovingly and extravagantly prescribed in us, and this is the real shame of the chronic life.

We believe the answers to these questions remain found within our relationship with God, especially as they are shared, expressed, and lived out in faithfulness with each other. But it took a while to learn this. We didn't wake up one day with a supernatural "directional sign" hanging over our heads. No, we lived through the same broken, misguided, often hopeless circumstances that you may be dealing with and that continue to cause your soul to ache. But we discovered that God has a "new normal" for our lives. Throughout Scripture, God provides one example after another of not only why the chronic life is not what God intended, but also how to restore the potential of such a life once it breaks down.

In searching Scripture for answers about confronting the chronic life of choices, patterns, and problems, we discovered four primary categories for setting a new direction in life: compassion, understanding, response, and encouragement. These concepts may seem familiar and even simple. But each of these four categories provides a different way to view the world, to disconnect from our self-destructive patterns, and to take up God's purpose for our lives. And these principles also show how living in Christ changes every aspect—yes, we mean every aspect—of our lives forever. God's intention for us is that we will be permanently affected and changed. Remember, this is not supposed to be a series of treatable maladies; God expects a CURE.

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