Book Review: The Crook in the Lot, by Thomas Boston
Synopsis: It is a universal truth without exception that everyone's lot in life, since the fall of Adam, is marked at times with certain crooks, whether imperfections, afflictions, relational discords, and so on, under which one chafes and groans, and cries out for relief. But where is God in these times, and why does he allow such evils and adversities to occur? Employing the full counsel of scripture, Thomas Boston gives a very compelling and comforting explanation: all the crooks in our lot come ultimately from God's own hand â€“ and they are not meaningless, arbitrary, or meant for our destruction, but rather employed for our eternal profit, and a necessary means to the glorious end of our being lifted up in God's due time. When we understand God's design in our trials, and the means he would have us make use of in conforming our hearts to his desire and hoping faithfully for his sure and soon relief, we may put to the proof the apostle's admonition to consider it pure joy when we come into the temptation of the various crooks he has placed in our lot.
The Crook in the Lot, by Thomas Boston, is justly considered a timeless classic. Not only does Boston tackle head-on one of the most perplexing questions that man has ever confronted, namely, the so-called â€œproblem of evil,â€ and not only has he done it in such a way as to explain the â€œproblemâ€ in an indisputable, scripture-saturated, and fully convincing manner; but furthermore, he has done so in an admirably practical, consolatory, applicational and motivational fashion. If any book is must-reading for the pursuit of holiness and sanctification in a believer's life, it is this. In particular, the following three virtues stood out to me, in my first reading of it:
1.The Crook in the Lot is deeply convicting, in fact, one of the most convicting works I have read in a long, long time. Scarcely a page went by that I was not cut to the quick by a just diagnosis of some evil, complaining attitude or outlook still resident in my heart. As Boston is quick to remind us, one of God's many good purposes for affliction is to expose our remaining corruption, and in his scriptural exploration of the theme, I was in fact apprised of much of the inward corruption still clinging to my heart. What a mercy, that God would not leave me in so deplorable a state, but through the fire of his merciful afflictions would continue patiently and effectively to tease out the dross of sinful affections!
2.The Crook in the Lot is painstakingly applicational and everywhere full of practical, spiritually wise admonitions for exercising the truth of the subject. Again, scarcely a page went by that I was not provided with solid, scriptural counsel on what to think and do, or how to respond when temptations and trials come. Here, there is much food for thought, but also, much instruction for daily practice.
3.The Crook in the Lot strikes at the very heart of the gospel and the true life of faith. Everyone in this life is made to endure some crooks, but how different is the response of the ungodly, who rebel, resist, and murmur, and the true believer, who humbles himself under God's mighty hand, and waits patiently for his due exaltation. In the latter portion of the book in particular, in which Boston contrasts the proud and the humble, there is as solid an explanation of the fundamental difference between the true believer and the unbeliever as can be found anywhere. What is the true life of faith, and what marks a believer as a true believer indeed? Here is an insightful, convicting, and scripturally-sound diagnosis.
If you have ever struggled with wondering why your lot has been encumbered with a certain crook (and who of us has not), then this is required reading. In these pages, you will not just learn to endure, nor will you be given a strategy to change your lot to the state you desire; but much more importantly, you will learn how to conform your own desires to God's good and sovereign plans in giving you the lot that he has, and to cry out to the Lord for his mercy and salvation, in his own good timing. Best of all, you just may get a glimpse of what it means to fellowship in the sufferings of Christ, and so be assured of an eternal fellowship with him in the power of his glorious resurrection.
Available at Monergism Books.