A good friend of mine works in the publishing business. We were discussing writing a book once and he said “look, there’s nothing new under the sun. What can you write that hasn’t already been written?” Great question. When I was given the opportunity to review the latest book by Timothy Keller called “Walking with God through Pain and Suffering,” I wondered what could possibly be said that hasn’t already been said. That said, the timing of this book couldn’t have been more perfect for me. While what my publishing friend said is very true, Timothy Keller found a way to present this important topic in a way that is new, fresh and powerful.
Written in three sections, “Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering” is a book in which Keller has done an exhaustive amount of research. It’s an education, it’s preparation and it’s application. He uses what he calls “The Furnace” for each section of the book. The first section,
“Understanding the Furnace” is a look at various cultures and religions and their response to pain and suffering. I found it incredibly interesting to consider that the western world is somewhat “soft” in our response to pain and suffering. Check this out:
“In medieval Europe approximately one of every five infants died before their first birthday, and only half of their children survived to the age of ten. The average family buried half of their children when they were still little, and the children died at home, not sheltered away from eyes and hearts.”
Wow. To most of us, that is unthinkable. The case is made that we are so conditioned that we don’t anticipate or handle it well, when pain and suffering come. From there he moves directly into various religions and how each approaches the matter of suffering. Interesting research. Additionally, many of the chapters conclude with “Life Stories” that will break your heart. Real world hurt, pain and suffering.
Pain and Suffering are topics that none of us want to walk through or talk about. Many people, yours included, walk through daily life facing one if not both. Often we walk through them silently. While there are shelves and shelves of feel good, pull your bootstraps up, pray more, believe more, 20 scriptures to get through pain and suffering books out there. This is one of the most thorough and well put together books I’ve read. Timothy Keller does a fantastic job of delivering the information in an “I get it” kind of way. While I wish no one would have to walk through pain and suffering, this book is one that could be a companion before, during and after.
I give “Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering” a 5 out of 5
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