A Book Review on – The Creaking on the Stairs by Mez McConnell
The Creaking on the Stairs: Finding Faith in God Through Childhood Abuse is a must read for anyone wanting to peer into very the difficult questions we inevitably face concerning human suffering and The Gospel. The author’s biographical account of both his story of suffering at the hand of her is paired with his account of the saving and merciful redemption of Him, our Lord Jesus. The Creaking on the Stairs is more than a story of suffering. It is a testimony of renewed hope made possible by a loving and intervening Creator.
Three Big Takeaways of the Book
THE GOSPEL IS CLEARLY EXPLAINED
The author’s use of the Creation, Fall, Redemption thematic formula is not only rightly utilized in his explanation of The Gospel, but he ties the specific ways his heart (and ours) is affected by the beautiful truths of The Gospel.
If you need a primer, a refresher or a total explanation of The Gospel, then read on. The Gospel is spelled out in the most unequivocal terms as it recounts episodes of great violence and abuse paired with a sound Biblical explanation and solution for it all. Per the author’s note on page 29, we see this book is for “all of us” because there are many silent sufferers within and outside our church walls. There are many brewing questions that lurk inside our hearts when we consider the experiences of abuse and suffering as explained in the book. So whether we are familiar with this sort of pain; whether we are total strangers to it; whether we are believers in God, doubters, skeptics or anywhere else, we are shepherded by the author’s very pastoral unpacking of The Gospel story-line. Accordingly, he casts a vision for those readers who have been abused by offering a radical suggestion: “that we may even get to a place of peace within our souls and a place of forgiveness for those who hurt us so much,” (Page 36). Only The Gospel makes something like this possible.
THE GOSPEL IS ALSO FOR ABUSERS
The way the author shares his story is both captivating and brutally intellectually honest. It’s hard to put down the book. The gradually developing takeaway and reality that the author leads us to understand is this: If The Gospel is true, then the implications of its powerful effect isn’t just for those who suffer from any sort of violent abuse, but even for those who perpetrated those attacks. As you will see, The Gospel is for her as well. The author helps us realize that even though there are legitimate victims of violence, horrible abuse, and treacherous harm inflicted upon our most vulnerable populations, the God of the universe has a design in the plan of redemption for his people that somehow (and for reasons we do not understand) necessarily includes what men intend for evil.
“…God doesn’t differentiate between sinners. Sin is lawlessness and we all fall into that category. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. Here’s an even more bitter one. Some pedophiles and rapists will be in heaven. They will get to enjoy the glories of living with God for eternity. And some of their victims will be worshiping Jesus side by side with them. Even more incredibly, they will be thanking Jesus that they are there with them.”Page 157
THE GOSPEL HELPS US MAKE SENSE OF HUMAN SUFFERING
The author’s testimony is a beautiful example of what happens when the truth of The Gospel keeps moving deeper and deeper into our hearts. We grow in our awareness of the reality of the massively tender mercy of God toward us in Christ – us as the wretched sinner and Christ as the perfect sinless lamb who was slain on our behalf. As our awareness increases, so also will we grow in our love of Jesus in such a way where we can’t help but bend the knee in prayer on behalf of those who’ve harmed you or your neighbor.
Only the gospel helps us makes sense of the suffering we see in the world around us. There is no way to account for how to make sense of human suffering, especially suffering that takes place in the context of the sovereign and providential will of God, except to look to The Gospel of Jesus. The author rightly subordinates all his of suffering to the suffering of Christ. “The deliberate will of God crushed Jesus and caused him to suffer” (Page 181).
“With them and their evil influences in my life, this book would not be in your hands. Without the pain and trauma I went through in my late teens and early 20’s, unsuccessfully trying to process my childhood, I doubt I would have ever entered a church. In fact, my pain was one of the chief means God used to draw me to Jesus.”Page 186
By this point in the book, we already picked up on the author’s theology of the sovereignty of God. Not only are God’s ways above our ways, but His ways are the only ways we will ever understand The Gospel as it is meant to be understood, believed and propagated. So, a story of suffering and pain is a necessary story. It’s a necessary story that has God’s personally woven in order for us to worship and know God as he is meant to be known and worshiped.
Any and all proper worship of Jesus will necessarily lead us to extending forgiveness to those who’ve inflicted pain and abuse, albeit perhaps grudgingly, but forgiving nonetheless. Why?Because we’ve needed forgiveness from God. And the hope of a new life in Christ enables us to look forward to Heaven where there will be no suffering and pain. We long for that day. As our hope for Heaven is more and more properly oriented, we can slowly but surely heal and mature from the wounds inflicted upon us while in the flesh. We know we have a long road ahead of us, but we know we are not alone and we know that if God was gracious to save us from judgment and hell, He will keep us and hold until we are with Him in glory.