Courage is tested in war. The man who has not been in war is always left to wonder if he has what it takes.
Faith is tested by suffering. The person who has not suffered is always left to wonder if he or she will remain faithful through the trials.
Struck is Russ Ramsey’s observation of his heart through suffering – both literally and spiritually. On the eve of his 40th birthday, Russ was “struck” by heart failure that required open-heart surgery. This unexpected event tested him at the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. He reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly. How scars remain to this day and will stay for the remainder of his life. Yet also, how Psalm 23 rings true – how God was with him through the valley of the shadow of death.
This was a beautiful book. Russ references Nietzsche’s quote by saying “faith is long obedience in the same direction.” The full quote by Nietzsche is:
The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.
I love that. Long obedience in the same direction. Through joy and pain, through thriving and suffering. Faith is what gets you through. Faith in a God with us.
This book was as much about suffering as it was about marriage. In many ways, marriage is a long obedience in the same direction. I loved reading about Russ and his wife Lisa through this time. The final chapter was written by Lisa.
Another thing that stuck out to me was Russ’ idea of the fragility of life contrasted with the anti-fragility of the body. He didn’t use the term anti-fragile, but since I’m fresh off of reading Antifragile by Taleb, that’s what came to my mind. It is quite an extraordinary thing. There’s a disconnect there – something that’s not right in this world. It’s also interesting to consider that depression can make us want to end it all, yet while our minds take us down dark roads, our bodies fight on whether we want them to or not.
Overall, this is a great book for someone in the midst of pain. It’s also a good book about marriage. It’s beautifully written and honest. There’s no sugar-coating what happened or his response.