Bring the Books: Cries of the Heart

Bryan Joyce

Cries of The Heart was written by Dr. Ravi Zacharias and published in 1998 by Word Publishing. In this profound and mind-stretching book, Ravi explores the emptiness and loneliness of the human heart and addresses the problem of suffering by pointing the sufferers to Christ and the victory of His cross. All of this is done in a way that acknowledges the depths of human suffering, isolation, and need. He provides no glib answers that insult his readers’ intelligence, yet his answers clearly point beyond mere philosophy to the person of Christ.

Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist who has been called one of the greatest thinkers of our generation, was born in India in 1946. While he was a university student he tried to commit suicide in an attempt to escape what he saw to be a life without purpose or meaning. God however had other plans for him. While Ravi was still recovering in the hospital, Bible verses were read to him that changed his life. Upon hearing John 14:19, " … because I live, ye shall live also," Ravi turned to the Savior and began his new Christian life. In 1966 he immigrated to Canada with his family and furthered his education by earning several degrees. He has authored a number of books, and is the president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He currently has three grown children and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Margie. The amazing depth and warmth in his writing comes from all that he has endured in his life and what God has taught him through it all. This is clearly demonstrated in his book, Cries of The Heart.

From the very beginning of his book Ravi points the reader to God. He says, "The purpose of this book, therefore, is not simply to apply some healing balm to the bitter pain of an unheard cry; rather, it is to face squarely the reality that all of us in our private moments deal with suppressed cries … Where, then can we go? There is a place where there is an aggregate of human suffering and questioning. That place is the heart of God." Each of the first six chapters of his book deals with the cries of the human heart (to know God, to feel my faith, for a reason in suffering, a guilty conscience, for freedom in pleasure, a lonely heart) and the last chapter examines the cry of God for His people, which is basically a call to worship. Ravi says, "In worship, our cries meet up with the cry of God’s heart for His people, for that is what He seeks in us (see John 4:23)."

This book requires the reader’s full attention and active engagement. Ravi is dealing with deep issues and challenges some of the arguments of philosophers and skeptics as David Hume, Bertrand Russell, and Frederick Nietzsche who have had a tremendous impact on modern-day philosophy. That Ravi is well studied in philosophy is evident by his writing. His arguments are sound, yet profound and therefore require careful reading to accurately assimilate and understand.

By using real-life incidents to support his arguments, Ravi makes his writing relatable to the common man/woman. In dealing with the issue of suffering he tells of Professor Charles Cooper whose wife died four months after their wedding. Cooper said, "But what kept me going more than anything else was my confidence in the character of God. That was the bottom line." Another dynamic testimony of God’s answering our cry for reason in suffering is found in the story of Annie Johnston Flint. Orphaned and bedridden, suffering in pain much of her life, she wrote the words to a well-known poem which says, "He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater." In this poem she attests to God’s limitless love and mercy. Once again, the cry of the human heart finds its answer in God. Not only are there examples of God and the individual, but also the example of God’s sovereign hand in history. Ravi quotes from an essay written by F.W. Boreham titled, "The Candle and the Bird" in which Boreham likens God’s presence to a bird rather than a candle. Unlike the candle which cannot give light when it is extinguished, the bird which is driven away, sings its song on a different bough. Ravi explains, "With this metaphor in mind Boreham traces the mighty moving of God throughout history." From the Puritans to the Moravians, to William Carey in India, to Robert Murray McCheyne, and to Charles Haddon Spurgeon in London, the "bird" was singing its song. "The philosopher may debate. The skeptic may scoff. Experience may be deceptive. But the Word of God abides forever, and that Word has shone upon the face of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I really love how he ends this book in the chapter "The Cry of God for His People" in which he points us to the best of subjects—that of worship. He refers to the false worship of God’s people in the book of Malachi to teach very valuable lessons. His final statements are these, "Worship is coextensive with life. Here the sacred and the secular meet. Here our cries meet the cry of God." Thus the many themes he examines—guilt, pleasure, pain, God, and loneliness find their answer "in that commitment we call worship," which is "the consummate answer to the cries of the heart."

Although Ravi is not associated with our assemblies, he is a Christian author we can respect and appreciate. He speaks of God with reverence. His understanding of God’s character is balanced and Biblical. Although he provides enough philosophical arguments to satisfy the intellect, he continually points to God as the answer that we’re seeking. He says, "When we come to Jesus Christ at the cross, where love, holiness, and suffering combine, we find both the answer to why we suffer and the strength to live in this mortal frame for Him." The answer to all our cries is in God. Ravi reminds us, "On the basis of what we know, we can trust His character for what we do not know." What better direction can we have? Is not this what Christian living is all about—our eyes steadfastly on our Savior and our hearts trusting Him as we seek to worship and serve Him in this world of brokenness and sorrow?! We need to pray for Ravi and his preservation as he continues to use the gifts God has given him for His glory.

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