Authored by Desmond & Elaine Ng
As a book on marriage, Rings on Fire starts in the most unexpected way possible—with Desmond and Elaine’s journey towards divorce. The book takes a double narrative—from the points of view of both Desmond and Elaine, interweaving both sides of their stories and helping readers to understand each of their thoughts and perceptions of the other and the situations they find themselves in.
Going into raw and intimate details about the couple’s journey through marriage, this book highlights many of the harsh realities of marriage and the little “squeezing toothpaste from the top or bottom of the tube” moments that, when added up, could make or break a relationship. Lack of communication and assumptions running asunder are two of the main themes of the first few chapters of the book, where the couple questions every aspect of their marriage vow—for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and so on, and how they broke every single one.
The latter part of this book brings readers through their journey of healing and the restoration. At the lowest point of their relationship, the work of God begins to show in their individual lives—and Desmond talks about how God reveals Himself as the one who heals, who forgives, whose grace we have to rely on above all else. We see how, even though it seems like the marriage is headed for failure, God still works behind the scenes to remove the scales from both of their eyes, tackling every crisis and problem for His own glory, and restoring their marriage to what He desired it to be. However, I did find myself wanting to know more of Elaine’s view in this part of the book, as the text was very much focused on Desmond’s views and thoughts.
I particularly enjoyed reading Chapters 6 and 7, which delve into Desmond’s journey towards healing, with the help of the community God had placed in his life. He dives into the process of how God revealed to him his own sinfulness, after a long period of harbouring a spirit of blaming towards his wife and others who were negatively impacting their marriage. He went into detail about the devil’s schemes in using a victim spirit and a heart of unforgiveness and pride to harm his marriage even further, and how Desmond eventually took captive his thoughts, exchanging Satan’s lies for God’s empowering truths. Desmond also shared some great advice on truths to anchor our thoughts on, and the importance of re-centering our own lives back to God first, before tackling the issues in the relationship.
This book is an easy read for anyone grappling with their marriage, as it reveals some of the devil’s very subtle but effective advances designed to destroy God’s true purpose for marriage—the reflection of Christ’s relationship with the church. The book brings readers through the true struggles that a very real and human couple went through, drawing lessons on the husband’s and wife’s roles and attitudes in marriage (as it takes two hands to clap), and ultimately bringing the reader’s attention back to the Author and Protector of marriages and relationships.
You can view a sample of Rings on Fire here.
This review is written by Hilary Tan, who works in the public relations industry to help others tell their story in an authentic and relatable way. She enjoys having honest and deep conversations over a meal, and can’t wait for the great feast and undoubtedly amazing conversations with Jesus when He returns.