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Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

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New York Times bestselling author of The Songs of Jesus Timothy Keller—whose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readers—explores one of the most difficult questions we must answer in our lives: Why is there pain and suffering? Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is the definitive Christian book on why bad things happen and how we should New York Times bestselling author of The Songs of Jesus Timothy Keller—whose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readers—explores one of the most difficult questions we must answer in our lives: Why is there pain and suffering? Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is the definitive Christian book on why bad things happen and how we should respond to them. The question of why there is pain and suffering in the world has confounded every generation; yet there has not been a major book from a Christian perspective exploring why they exist for many years. The two classics in this area are When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, which was published more than thirty years ago, and C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, published more than seventy years ago. The great secular book on the subject, Elisabeth Ku¨bler-Ross’s On Death and Dying, was first published in 1969. It’s time for a new understanding and perspective, and who better to tackle this complex subject than Timothy Keller? As the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Timothy Keller is known for the unique insights he shares, and his series of books has guided countless readers in their spiritual journeys. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering will bring a much-needed, fresh viewpoint on this important issue.


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New York Times bestselling author of The Songs of Jesus Timothy Keller—whose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readers—explores one of the most difficult questions we must answer in our lives: Why is there pain and suffering? Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is the definitive Christian book on why bad things happen and how we should New York Times bestselling author of The Songs of Jesus Timothy Keller—whose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readers—explores one of the most difficult questions we must answer in our lives: Why is there pain and suffering? Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is the definitive Christian book on why bad things happen and how we should respond to them. The question of why there is pain and suffering in the world has confounded every generation; yet there has not been a major book from a Christian perspective exploring why they exist for many years. The two classics in this area are When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, which was published more than thirty years ago, and C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, published more than seventy years ago. The great secular book on the subject, Elisabeth Ku¨bler-Ross’s On Death and Dying, was first published in 1969. It’s time for a new understanding and perspective, and who better to tackle this complex subject than Timothy Keller? As the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Timothy Keller is known for the unique insights he shares, and his series of books has guided countless readers in their spiritual journeys. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering will bring a much-needed, fresh viewpoint on this important issue.

30 review for Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    What is most impressive about this book is not that it is theologically profound, or philosophically precise, or psychologically wise, or pastorally helpful, but that it manages to be all of those things at once in a single book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    There were some excellent parts of this book and maybe one day I will return here and write about them. But I was SO very disappointed that both stories of child loss ended with the birth of a new child. Having lost two children ourselves (age 14 months and 10 days old), and not getting that 'happy ending' of another child to bring healing and joy back into our home, and and an answer to our prayers, reading this just felt like an extra huge kick to the gut. While it is great that these couples There were some excellent parts of this book and maybe one day I will return here and write about them. But I was SO very disappointed that both stories of child loss ended with the birth of a new child. Having lost two children ourselves (age 14 months and 10 days old), and not getting that 'happy ending' of another child to bring healing and joy back into our home, and and an answer to our prayers, reading this just felt like an extra huge kick to the gut. While it is great that these couples had another child, it does not represent reality for many sufferers. God does not always give more children to parents who have lost them. Period. Sometimes He even allows the unthinkable to happen again. There are many, many people who do not have a happy ending to their story. (on this side of heaven) How do THOSE people continue to trust God through the pain?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Readnponder

    The book is divided into three sections. Keller is upfront that not all sections will address what the reader most needs at a particular time. I am probably in the minority that preferred the philosophical/theological section over the practical advice portion. At the conclusion of several chapters, Keller included a testimony of someone whose story of suffering illustrated a point in the chapter. I found myself frustrated by what seems to be a recurrent theme in Christian books. (I could list tit The book is divided into three sections. Keller is upfront that not all sections will address what the reader most needs at a particular time. I am probably in the minority that preferred the philosophical/theological section over the practical advice portion. At the conclusion of several chapters, Keller included a testimony of someone whose story of suffering illustrated a point in the chapter. I found myself frustrated by what seems to be a recurrent theme in Christian books. (I could list titles, but won't.) The person(s) will say, for example, how they struggled with infertility or in some cases lost a child, but after several years of prayer and weeping, God intervened and now they are parents of a precious little one. I am thrilled that these folks got their wish, but to my thinking the more persuasive example would be to read about a couple with empty arms, someone whose prayer wasn't answered. That's the type of pain which too often goes unaddressed in the church.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    Today is my birthday and this has been a pretty bad year for me. Through the course of this very bad year I have read many books on suffering some have been a very raw sharing of emotion. That is fine and sometimes helpful but this book by Tim Keller is ever so much more than that. I can't imagine a better book on the subject. It has echoed so many lessons I have been learning and gave me courage to truly trust God completely in the midst of pain. It walks the Christian through all the stages of Today is my birthday and this has been a pretty bad year for me. Through the course of this very bad year I have read many books on suffering some have been a very raw sharing of emotion. That is fine and sometimes helpful but this book by Tim Keller is ever so much more than that. I can't imagine a better book on the subject. It has echoed so many lessons I have been learning and gave me courage to truly trust God completely in the midst of pain. It walks the Christian through all the stages of grief and suffering and leaves us finally at my favorite destination-the ordering of our affections towards God. This has been a very bad year. I would not want to live it again and I am glad that on my last birthday I did not know what was ahead;I would not have had the courage to walk the path. But now I can truly say that while I do not embrace suffering I do count it all joy and that the Gospel has held firm. God is bigger than I knew and all is well. My troubles are still present. I still cry more than I thought possible but I am not suffering as those who are without hope. I have a huge hope. This is a 5 star book for the Christian facing unexpected suffering.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jesvin Jose

    If I were given a choice to go on a lonely island with a handful of books, I would sure carry some of Keller’s books. It is not without reason that Tim Keller is called the CS Lewis of our generation. He is simply a brilliant Christian thinker! And as you begin to read him and see how he makes his case chapter after chapter, you will inevitably say to yourself: “Here is a master at work”! I love the way he masterfully builds arguments through the book to make his case. But make no mistake – this If I were given a choice to go on a lonely island with a handful of books, I would sure carry some of Keller’s books. It is not without reason that Tim Keller is called the CS Lewis of our generation. He is simply a brilliant Christian thinker! And as you begin to read him and see how he makes his case chapter after chapter, you will inevitably say to yourself: “Here is a master at work”! I love the way he masterfully builds arguments through the book to make his case. But make no mistake – this book is not for intellectuals alone. Keller’s focus is on the mind and heart of the reader. He challenges skeptics and believers alike to walk with God in their fiery furnace. The book comprises 16 chapters divided into three carefully thought-out sections. The first section is philosophical, the second is theological and the third is existential (and the most practical). The first section, though primarily theoretical, is not dry and demonstrates how Christianity offers superior comfort and hope for sufferers compared to other worldviews, especially the secular worldview. Keller presents an attractive case for the Christian faith, showing how Christianity (compared to other worldviews) teaches that suffering is overwhelming, real, often unfair, and yet meaningful. Christianity doesn’t just offer consolation for the life we have lost, but restoration (in our future resurrection). Keller also winsomely tackles the logical, evidential and visceral arguments against the existence of God. He argues that God, being infinite is also all-knowing and so has good reasons for allowing evil, even though we don't understand those reasons. He writes, “The belief – that because we cannot think of something, God cannot think of it either – is more than a fallacy. It is a mark of great pride and faith in one’s own mind.” In the next section, Keller looks to Scripture and begins with three sets of Christian teachings - creation and fall, judgment and renewal, incarnation and atonement - that give us a new frame of heart capable of facing adversity. He points to the uniqueness of Christ - who didn’t come with a sword but with nails in his hands. He then looks at two foundational truths to help us better understand the many varied causes and forms of suffering – 1) Suffering is both just and unjust, 2) God is both a sovereign God and a suffering God. If we forget that suffering is just, we may be angry toward God (“I hate thee”) and if we forget that suffering is unjust, we may be trapped in “inordinate guilt” (“I hate me”). Keller points to the book of Proverbs to show us that much suffering is related to wrongdoing, and to the books of Job and Ecclesiastes to show us that much suffering is unrelated to our moral failures. Throughout the book, Keller’s focus is on our appropriate response to suffering. He writes, “Our sufferings, if handled properly, bring the Lord glory”. As such, we must prepare our hearts and minds for suffering (especially before we suffer). In the insightful chapter titled “The varieties of suffering”, he lays out four kinds of suffering the Bible speaks of, which usually bring out four different emotional responses: 1) The suffering of moral failures, which brings guilt and shame (Example: Jonah, David), 2) The suffering of betrayal, which brings anger and resentment (Example: Paul, Jeremiah), 3) The suffering of loss, which brings grief and fear (Example: Mary, Martha), and 4) The suffering of mystery, which brings confusion and perhaps anger at God (Example: Job). Such a Biblical perspective forbids us to use a single template for handling pain and suffering. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for handling suffering! In the final section, Keller insightfully looks to the Biblical characters of Joseph and Job and points us to the Ultimate Joseph and Ultimate Job – Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself! He shows us that God walks with us in the furnace, and if we are to grow instead of being destroyed by suffering, we too must walk with God (i.e., treat God as God and as present with us). This means remembering the gospel – remembering that He went into the fire that we deserve! Is this Keller’s best book? Probably not! (Prodigal God & Counterfeit gods are still my top picks). Is this the best book on suffering I have read? Most certainly, yes! The book doesn’t offer a simple fix to a complex problem (and rightly so!). I highly recommend it as a go-to resource not just for those who are in the midst of the fiery furnace, but also those who offer comfort and hope to those who suffer. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Kassing

    This is my second time reading this book and it's the best big-picture take on suffering that I've read. I'd highly recommend it. Read it. Pass it along. This is my second time reading this book and it's the best big-picture take on suffering that I've read. I'd highly recommend it. Read it. Pass it along.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Helped Jim Tandy teach a college class at RPC in Waco using this book (2016–17). Lecture/Q&A. Introduction 1: cf. the 1755 Lisbon earthquake 2: Macbeth quote 3: take life seriously, but don't despair bc of suffering—we need spiritual help 4–5: people reject God bc of suffering, but they also find Him thru it; CSL: pain is God shouting 5–6: suffering in OT/NT 6: Kellers' personal suffering (cf. the beginning of Prayer); joy thru suffering 6–7: S. Weil says suffering makes God seem absent—Ps. 34 says that Helped Jim Tandy teach a college class at RPC in Waco using this book (2016–17). Lecture/Q&A. Introduction 1: cf. the 1755 Lisbon earthquake 2: Macbeth quote 3: take life seriously, but don't despair bc of suffering—we need spiritual help 4–5: people reject God bc of suffering, but they also find Him thru it; CSL: pain is God shouting 5–6: suffering in OT/NT 6: Kellers' personal suffering (cf. the beginning of Prayer); joy thru suffering 6–7: S. Weil says suffering makes God seem absent—Ps. 34 says that even when God seems absent, He isn't 7: it's difficult but necessary to be philosophical about this topic 7–9: Keller doesn't want to be one-dimensional, so the book has 3 parts: "problem of evil" (more abstract), Bible/personal, practical 10: Jesus suffered for us & suffers with us Part 1: Understanding the Furnace Ch. 1: The Cultures of Suffering 13: suffering of Keller's father 14: Western culture is terrible at dealing w/ suffering; Berger: other cultures found meaning in suffering (see n15) [some find this observation to be insensitive toward a modern audience, but Keller is not advocating a response to suffering that says "just get over it"; it's simply a historical fact that other cultures have better understood suffering to be an expected part of life; see p. 114 for nuance]; ressentiment & suffering (Nietzsche) 15–16: Tom Shippey: older cultures were less afraid of suffering than we are 17–20: 4 ways that society has responded to suffering: moralistic (you bring suffering on yourself; karma), self-transcendent (reduce desire, the source of your disappointment; Buddhism; Stoicism), fatalistic (can't fight impersonal fate; Islam; Norse cultures; n25: Berger puts Calvinism here), & dualistic (good & evil are locked in eternal struggle; Persian Zoarastrianism); differences & similarities; chart on p. 20 20–21: Western culture is more secular/naturalistic (Dawkins's "pitiless indifference"; Housman's poetry) 23–27: suffering as an interruption; cure seems to be to treat the symptoms & avoid/lessen suffering as much as possible 25–26: Lewis's Abolition of Man; Taylor's A Secular Age ("the anthropocentric turn") 28: revised chart (with secularism added) 28–31: superiority of Xnity 29: Solzhenitsyn's quote about the line dividing good & evil 31-34: forgiveness guards against bitterness; fairy tales include tragedies that make protagonists stronger Ch. 2: The Victory of Christianity 35–36: philosophy teaches us to be our own physicians & face death (Cicero) 37: science can tell us what is, but not what ought to be; we'll look at ancient, medieval, & modern views 37–39: Greek Stoics & the Logos (impersonal divine rational structure); the mind perceives the order of the universe; face death by accepting fate, privilege reason over emotion, & think of death as transformation (joining the universe) 39–41: Cicero & Seneca were Romans who were influenced by the Stoics; Hinduism & Buddhism—differences are an illusion (see n71 for Buddhism as pantheism); overcome suffering by detaching your heart; for Stoics & Buddhists, hope is a killer 41–47 (early church fathers): Xn apologists argued that Xnity provided better answers for suffering, & that the lives of Xns proved it; Ignatius, Polycarp, Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine: Xs suffer & die better than pagans; Xnity allowed room for sorrow, & provided a basis for hope; John co-opts the Logos & calls it a person; don't necessarily love things less, but love God more; Boethius & Wheel of Fortune/chance (see n88); bodily resurrection; Gregory the Great on Job 48–53 (Luther): medieval (Catholic) view of meriting Heaven by suffering well (Paltz); suffering empties us of pride & makes us rely on God; "theology of glory" vs. "theology of the cross"; Anfectungen 53–56 (modernity): Charles Taylor & the "Immanent Frame" (secularity, porous/buffered, new sense of self, religious options, controlling our destinies); Deism (God exists to fulfill me); 1755 Lisbon earthquake & Voltaire; "problem of evil" was new (now we question God's goodness & existence); we prize our own reason so much that we assume we can understand suffering (but people used to assume that they just couldn't understand God's ways) 57–60: Delbanco & the death of Satan; Christian Smith & "moralistic, therapeutic deism"; Xn beliefs that help with suffering: personal & omnipotent God, Jesus' suffering, assurance of salvation through Jesus, & bodily resurrection; as we grow in importance in our own eyes, suffering becomes more intolerable 61–63: doctor loses a son, & the community gathered around Ch. 3: The Challenge of the Secular 64–66: religious nature of Newtown memorial services (2012); religion offers more community; "humanism suffers...from the valorization of the individual" (Freedman) 68–69: social justice movements have tended to have religious bases (history); secularism has no objective morality (philosophy) 70: living for happiness or living for meaning 72–73: families that are grateful (after the fact) for children with disabilities 73–74: the secular account of suffering reduces the cause to victimization; secular attempt to eliminate suffering is naively optimistic 75–77: Delbanco's book about cultural narratives that provide hope & cohesion (the US narrative has shifted from God, to country, to self); de Tocqueville & American individualism; suicide becomes more of an option when someone (whose meaning derives from personal happiness) is denied that happiness [some find this to be offensive, but 1) Keller is not saying that everyone who commits suicide is selfish, & 2) Keller is not shying away from the obvious fact that sin can lead to suicide] 77: suffering is at the heart of Xnity 80: suffering is how we understand God better & develop virtues Ch. 4: The Problem of Evil 85: historically, this "problem" goes back through Hume to Epicurus (God's willingness/goodness & ability/power) 86: Keller didn't start with this chapter bc it would've given the impression that only Xnity has a problem bc of evil (but secularism does too, & the problem is far greater) 87: evil is a problem for people who think highly of their rational capabilities; cultural biases help to form our opinions 88–89: logical argument (certainty) vs. evidential argument (probability); Plantinga showed that since God could have a morally justified reason to allow evil, it is logically false to say that God's goodness & power are not incompatible with evil 89–90: distinction between theodicy & defense (see more on p. 95); Leibniz coined theodicy; "soul-making" theodicy (Irenaeus in 2c: trials make us stronger [cf. Areopagitica]); problems with this theodicy is that suffering isn't evenly distributed (so people don't have the same opportunities for maturity), & children & animals suffer greatly 90–93: free will theodicy (robots can't obey out of love); freedom to choose good means freedom to choose evil; Augustine/Aquinas: evil is a privation of good; evil from free will is worth it; problems: 1) free will addresses moral evil but not natural evil [see n166 for a discussion on a literal Adam & Eve], 2) only the extreme libertarian free will position claims that God can't lead us to do the right thing bc it violate our free will (but God cannot do certain things & yet remains free & loving, & what about glorified humans [who love God, yet cannot sin] in eternity?; plus, sin comes from our slavery, not our freedom), 3) the Bible speaks of God's sovereignty in human actions (e.g. Acts 2:23; compatibilism), 4) violating someone else free will may save his/her life (so it's morally good) 94: CSL & the natural law theodicy, the complicated plenitude theory (multiverses), & the simplistic punishment theodicy (fall > suffering) 95: no Xn denomination has ever endorsed a particular theodicy; more on theodicy (explaining the purpose of evil—burden of proof is on the Xn) vs. defense (showing that argument against God from evil is flawed—burden of proof is on the skeptic) 96–99: noseeums argument: there may be reasons (for God to allow suffering) that we can't see/understand (we have no right to assume that if we can't see a good reason for the suffering, there must not be one); in fact, many of us allow/inflict pain for a greater purpose (medical procedures, child discipline) 100: chaos theory, butterfly's fluttering, & a time-traveler stepping on a mouse 101–03 (visceral arguments): Elie Wiesel's Night is only one perspective (others saw the same things, & their faith wasn't destroyed) 103–07 (boomerang effect): Pascal & heart's reasons; strong, personal moral outrage doesn't constitute obligation; moral instincts must be grounded on something objective, or else they are not binding; Lewis realized that we cannot morally condemn anything unless we appeal to something universally moral; missionary kid who saw suffering drifted from God, but then argued with a relativist & recognized that one couldn't condemn Hitler (or anything else unjust) without a moral standard (both MLK & Nietzsche understood this) Part 2: Facing the Furnace Ch. 5: The Challenge to Faith 113: "reasons of the heart" (intuitions) change affections/attitudes more than propositions do; 3 powerful themes of Xn teaching... 113–15: 1. creation/fall: evil is not supposed to be here, & it's natural for us to resist death (even though it's a part of life); suffering/death do come from sin (so we can never claim that we deserve better), but particular sufferings are not always directly related to particular sins; practical Deism (Christian Smith) makes us think that God's job is to make us comfortable, & a rejection of this spiritual entitlement (presumption, self-pity) brings the relief of humility; bc of the fall, the real question is why does God allow so much happiness to rebels? 116–18: 2. final judgment & renewal of world: if there's no Judgment Day, we lose hope for justice (& maybe live immorally), or take vengeance ourselves; if there is a Judgment Day, we hope for final & temporal justice, & we don't have to take matters into our own hands (we can forgive)—Judgment Day keeps us from being too passive & too aggressive; felix culpa stuff (Plantinga on Edwards & Kuyper; see n203)—God's plan for suffering leads to a greater good; CSL & JRRT 118–22: 3. incarnation/atonement: Berger notes that while we shouldn't question God (His ways are higher), we're still not satisfied with a "don't question God" answer—& the Bible gives us another help: God suffers (worse than we have—Jesus agonizingly lost an infinite love relationship); the Muslim charge that the Xn God became weak is accurate; so we don't always know the reason why we suffer (just as children don't always understand their parents' decisions), but we know what one of the reasons isn't—that God doesn't care; Voskamp 123: Luther [Augustine?] & incurvatus in se (leads to everything from genocide to marital tension); Jesus came to bear justice 125–29: mother falsely accused of child abuse (children taken away for 9 months, but judge finally dismissed the case); eventually, this mother forgave (& even hugged) the accusing doctor Ch. 6: The Sovereignty of God 130: "Suffering is both just and unjust" & "God is both a sovereign & a suffering God" 131–32 (just): see n215 for Keller's view that Adam & Eve were real, historical people; it's clear that justice is often retributive (see Proverbs) 132–35 (unjust): there isn't always a clear one-to-one correspondence between particular suffering & someone's actions (see 114–15); sometimes suffering is obviously just (Proverbs—the world is ordered), & sometimes it's not so obvious (Job, Ecclesiastes—God's ways are hidden, & we are often confused); Gerhard von Rad on the uniqueness of the Bible—an unrivaled God creates as an artist, not a warrior; it's natural to want to make sense of things (karma), but we don't control the world; "The Bible's assessment [of humans] is less flattering to non-sufferers and kinder to those who are hurting" 136–38 (suffering as God's enemy): Hart on the tsunami (see n222: Keller thinks Hart over-emphasizes God's distance; God is sovereign over suffering); Jesus was angry about Lazarus's death (see Warfield/Calvin), although He obv. knew that death is just (Bible's view of suffering is nuanced) 138–39: forgetting that suffering is just (since we deserve death) can lead to "I hate thee," & forgetting the suffering is unjust (since we are not always directly to blame) can lead to "I hate me" [in CE I used a parenting example: Xn parents suffering bc of rebellious children can be devastated in 2 ways—Xn parents who have not trained their children well can be devastated if they forget that sometimes suffering is just (they could have trained their children better), & Xn parents who have trained their children well can be devastated if they forget that sometimes suffering is unjust (there really is nothing else they could have done)] 140–44: compatibilism & related verses (Isaiah 10:5–7; Eph. 1:11; Prov. 16:33; Ps. 60:3; Acts 4:27–28); "we always do what we most want to do" [Edwards]; more verses (Prov. 16:9; Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28; Acts 2:23; Luke 22:22; the hardening of Pharaoh's heart in Ex. 7–14); God has no "plan B"; Don Carson says that God works good & evil asymmetrically [cf. double predestination] Ch. 7: The Suffering of God 148: the OT God is tender toward His people 149: God does not need anything, but "impassibility" goes too far 152: McCartney: "Christ learned humanhood from his suffering . . . ; we learn Christhood from our suffering" 153: God's suffering is "voluntary—and therefore . . . fully motivated by love"; we don't obey bc we understand (that would be agreement, not obedience) 153–54: we can trust God bc He suffered for us 155: Judgment Day doesn't just punish evil—it undoes it (see p. 159); scroll in Rev. 5 is God's sovereign plan 156–57: the cross was the worst that evil could do, & it backfired; evil is privation (Boethius) & external force (Manes)—see n254 & Shippey/JRRT reference; Calvin quote on death's being turned on itself; judo 158: Xnity doesn't explain suffering, but it does answer it (X's suffering); Dostoevsky (see n259) Ch. 8: The Reason for Suffering 163: epigraph (Herbert's "Sin") 164–65: opera arias often turn "sorrow into something beautiful" 165: "post-traumatic growth"; suffering can make people more resilient (suffering produces endurance, character, & hope [Rom. 5:3–4]), strengthen relationships, & change priorities/philosophies 165–66: people who focus on personal achievement/happiness tend not to respond well to suffering; various life stories (some are naive) lead people to respond differently to suffering; "The Bible is filled with cries of lament and shouts of 'Why?' that God does not denounce" 167: suffering & glory are linked in many biblical passages; Xns who are not taught well are offended at the suggestion that suffering can glorify God 167–68: CSL (Reflections on the Psalms) shows that God is not greedy for demanding praise—praise is the proper response for something/someone glorious/beautiful, & we benefit from giving the praise 168–69: glory/kabod/weight/matter/importance/doxa 169: LOTR & imbuing significance to a small object (something other than God)—common in mythology (see JRRT's Letter 121) 170–74: Elizabeth Elliot & letting God be God (not our own creation)—we often want God to act in ways that we can understand (we want God as an accomplice, & reject the freedom that comes from relinquishing control); we cannot trust God only when we understand Him 175: we glorify God to others when we trust God through our suffering 176–77: story of the 2006 shooting in an Amish community [sounds similar to Charleston 2015]; Christians reflect on Christ's suffering for His enemies, & "self-renunciation" (giving up revenge) 178–80: Joni Eareckson Tada & Denise Walters; Taylor's "immanent frame"; we are always "on camera," in a sense; "No suffering is for nothing" 180–81: Jesus was cast out for us 181–85: story of racial tensions, betrayal, illness, death; "It seems that some fruit comes only from suffering" Ch. 9: Learning to Walk 186: Proust: we usually discover wisdom rather than receive it; suffering is connected to God's glory, but also our glory (2 Cor. 4:17) 187–88: although suffering can lead to our growth, we should never seek it out (masochism) 188–89: suffering can show us legitimate weaknesses in ourselves (e.g., cowardice, selfishness, etc.); depressed people who recover gain wisdom (perhaps more than those who have never suffered with depression, bc depression reveals limitations; those who are never depressed may have an unrealistic view of their abilities) 190–92: suffering "transforms our attitude toward ourselves" (removes blinders, reveals our vulnerability & weaknesses), "change[s] our relationship to the good things in our lives" (reshapes priorities), "strengthen[s] our relationship to God" (CSL quote about God's shouting in our pain), & a "prerequisite if we are going to be of much use to other people" (makes us more compassionate; gives us wisdom; 2 Cor. 1:3–7) 193–96: metaphor of suffering as a gymnasium; word means "naked," bc clothes hide flaws, & if you want to improve, you need to see/know where to improve; too much exercise & too little are both unhelpful [cf. Aristotle's doctrine of the mean in NE, which Luther hated]; suffering has both a limit & a purpose 196–98: we must prepare for suffering [cf. Piper's "ballast" in Spectacular Sins]; hard to learn "on the job"; theological reflection helps us avoid naive views—such as thinking that "good" people don't deserve suffering (shock from this naivety makes suffering worse; there was a purpose to X's suffering)—& helps us know that we shouldn't expect to understand everything (bc we're finite); if God were completely just, we would be dead now 198–202: importance of both head & heart; gap between head knowledge & heart ability to persevere can be large; we need pastoral care, not just facts (which can make us impatient with those who struggle with suffering, despite knowing facts); facts can't just be stored in a warehouse—we have to know how to use them (Carson), & suffering forces the facts to become real; "it is cruel to show a person currently in pain with theological arguments about how God is not responsible for evil and why his wisdom is beyond searching out" Ch. 10: The Varieties of Suffering 205: epigraph from The Princess Bride; fire can consume or refine 206: there's no one answer for suffering bc sufferings & sufferers are different 207–13: 4 kinds of suffering: our own fault (Jonah, David), doing what's right (Paul, Jeremiah), "universal" (Mary/Martha), "senseless" (Job); Augustine & re-ordering loves 208: we're not punished for our sins (bc of X)? 210: it's okay to pursue justice without vengeance 213: Weil's "The Love of God and Affliction" 213–16: kinds of affliction (based on temperament): isolation, implosion, condemnation, anger, temptation 216: clichés can "grate rather than comfort" (Carson) 217: people want to know that you care 217–18: God gives daily grace 217/219: importance of giving truth in the right order; Newton For Part 3, see here.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Williamson

    4.5 stars An excellent and comprehensive book on what suffering means. If COVID-19 has revealed one thing, it is that we are severely deficient in a robust theology/philosophy of suffering. Our modern Western culture has taught us that hardships are interruptions to our happiness, rather than an inevitable and valuable part of each of our stories leading to a greater good; our culture has given us no tools or instruction on handling suffering and so, in the midst of it, we turn to other things t 4.5 stars An excellent and comprehensive book on what suffering means. If COVID-19 has revealed one thing, it is that we are severely deficient in a robust theology/philosophy of suffering. Our modern Western culture has taught us that hardships are interruptions to our happiness, rather than an inevitable and valuable part of each of our stories leading to a greater good; our culture has given us no tools or instruction on handling suffering and so, in the midst of it, we turn to other things to make sense of it all— conspiracy, denial, despondency. In Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Tim Keller takes a holistic approach. He goes through an anthropological survey of suffering through various cultures, a historical approach of the stark contrast of Christian theology and the church to the prominent views on suffering, a theological argument to answer the ‘whys’, and a pastoral section to comfort people hurting right now. A must-read for Christians who don't realize how other philosophies have crept into the 'Christianese' way that we speak about hard times. This book is equally suitable for people who are not Christians, as Keller gives fair views of many different cultures' and religions' responses to suffering, as well as a thorough explanation of the orthodox Christian theology on suffering. My only criticism (which I would never say to Keller himself because I stan) is that I didn't walk away from the latter part of this book wholly comforted. Thoughtful, a bigger view of God's power and purpose; yes. But I would have liked more exploration on the intimate comfort that He offers in a more devotional way. I'd therefore recommend this book in conjunction with either Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Vroegop or Gentle and Lowly by Ortlund to supplement this. All in all, a great read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kara Sauder

    Perhaps one of my favorite books. My only fear is that the title would cause people to self-select out of reading it, when I believe it's relevant and appropriate across seasons and experiences. I'm so grateful this book was written, and I anticipate reading it many more times. Perhaps one of my favorite books. My only fear is that the title would cause people to self-select out of reading it, when I believe it's relevant and appropriate across seasons and experiences. I'm so grateful this book was written, and I anticipate reading it many more times.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Francine

    Keller is an amazing writer. In this book he was able to explain what suffering is, give us good reasoning for the problem of evil, and explain very well how to deal with suffering in a Biblical way. What a great book! Honestly the best book I've ever read, and I don't say that lightly. Please read this, whether you are suffering or not, currently. I promise it will change you. Keller is an amazing writer. In this book he was able to explain what suffering is, give us good reasoning for the problem of evil, and explain very well how to deal with suffering in a Biblical way. What a great book! Honestly the best book I've ever read, and I don't say that lightly. Please read this, whether you are suffering or not, currently. I promise it will change you.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Homeschoolmama

    A first I didn't want to read this book. I have a prejudice against trendy-looking mega-church pastors, and Tim Keller sort of fits the stereotype, with his shaved head and earring. I was expecting some well worn Christian cliches, lots of Bible verses and little new in terms of insights and wisdom. Boy was I wrong. This was no hyped up how-to book. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering was a philosophical book of sorts, with sound reasoning, logic and grounded theology. I found myself hig A first I didn't want to read this book. I have a prejudice against trendy-looking mega-church pastors, and Tim Keller sort of fits the stereotype, with his shaved head and earring. I was expecting some well worn Christian cliches, lots of Bible verses and little new in terms of insights and wisdom. Boy was I wrong. This was no hyped up how-to book. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering was a philosophical book of sorts, with sound reasoning, logic and grounded theology. I found myself highlighting a lot of sentences and entire paragraphs. Here are some quotes that resonated with me: We are so instinctively and profoundly self-centered that we don't believe we are. The 'rage' at the dying of light' is our intuition that we were not meant for mortality, for the loss of love, or for the triumph of darkness. In order to help people face death and grief we often tell people that death is a perfectly natural part of life. But that asks them to repress a very right and profound human intuition- that we were not meant to simply go to dust. Almost no one grows into greatness or finds God without suffering, without pain coming into our lives, like smelling salts to wake us up to all sorts of facts about life and our own hearts to which we were blind. There were many other passages that were compelling. .. This is a book to hold onto, to read and to re-read, as an invaluable resource. For sufferers, people who work with sufferers and people who live with sufferers. And so it is for everyone. Just started this book, and so far I'm thrilled. It starts off w/a synopsis of different cultures' ways of dealing with suffering. Fascinates me to read how other peoples handle things.... how they understand the world and their purpose in it. We Westerners think our ways are the best. Lots of philosophical insights here. Looking forward to reading this one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Gow

    Helpful and nuanced :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Not just a very good book on how to deal with suffering from a Christian worldview but a potent challenge to secularism and a needed corrective to naive Christian responses to the problem of evil. Keller aims to not just answer the problem philosophically but provide readers with a theological and devotional framework to work through the problem in their own lives. He does this well but the book is too long as a result and sometimes repetitive. Keller is best at exposing the inability of secular Not just a very good book on how to deal with suffering from a Christian worldview but a potent challenge to secularism and a needed corrective to naive Christian responses to the problem of evil. Keller aims to not just answer the problem philosophically but provide readers with a theological and devotional framework to work through the problem in their own lives. He does this well but the book is too long as a result and sometimes repetitive. Keller is best at exposing the inability of secularism to explain or find meaning in suffering and demonstrating how Christianity addresses the problem of suffering better than any other worldview. I wish people would read this book if only to see how Keller exposes the vanity of our materialistic, hedonistic secular culture.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

    Who would of thought that a book with a subject about pain and suffering would bring such joy. God has gifted Timothy Keller with such wisdom in understanding the human heart. If you are reading this and even slightly feel inclined to give this book a try I wouldn’t absolutely urge you to do so. May it give you a song of joy in your heart as well. “It cannot be that He doesn’t love us. It cannot be that He doesn’t care. He is so committed to our personal happiness that He was willing to plunge i Who would of thought that a book with a subject about pain and suffering would bring such joy. God has gifted Timothy Keller with such wisdom in understanding the human heart. If you are reading this and even slightly feel inclined to give this book a try I wouldn’t absolutely urge you to do so. May it give you a song of joy in your heart as well. “It cannot be that He doesn’t love us. It cannot be that He doesn’t care. He is so committed to our personal happiness that He was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering Himself. He understands us. Yes that is only half the answer to the question’ “why?” But it is the answer we need.” -Tim Keller

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aaron S

    The concept of this book is an absolute for everyone in the world we live in today. We all face pain, tragedy, and loss in numerous ways. Unfortunately (at least for me) there was just too much unneeded stuff. If you want to talk about everything that was in the book, I feel like you need to eliminate the God part of the title. I don’t want to come off wrong here, but who’s God? Which god? There were related chapters as well as information about God relating to Christianity, but there was also a The concept of this book is an absolute for everyone in the world we live in today. We all face pain, tragedy, and loss in numerous ways. Unfortunately (at least for me) there was just too much unneeded stuff. If you want to talk about everything that was in the book, I feel like you need to eliminate the God part of the title. I don’t want to come off wrong here, but who’s God? Which god? There were related chapters as well as information about God relating to Christianity, but there was also a tremendous amount of philosophy and other religious views. I truly have no problem with this, but I think a book of this nature might fall under the religious/philosophy umbrella rather than the Christianity category.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell Dixon

    This is without a doubt the best book Keller has written. This gives such a deep and rich answer the the problems at hand. He speaks so eloquently about the gospel answer to pain and suffering and how we as Christians walk with God through it. We all go through pain and suffering, it is not a matter of if but when. Please read this book to help you have categories for it before it overwhelms you.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Will Barbour

    This book is excellent on so many levels. As always, I love how Keller explains and even compliments views before he criticizes them where he sees fit. This was helpful as he outlined the different approaches to suffering. He turns the tables by showing how the presence of evil in the world is actually a sign of God because we are appealing to objective moral standard when we deem something evil (if there's no God, our conception of evil can just be a private feeling). My favorite part of this bo This book is excellent on so many levels. As always, I love how Keller explains and even compliments views before he criticizes them where he sees fit. This was helpful as he outlined the different approaches to suffering. He turns the tables by showing how the presence of evil in the world is actually a sign of God because we are appealing to objective moral standard when we deem something evil (if there's no God, our conception of evil can just be a private feeling). My favorite part of this book were the life stories, which were powerful! How the Lord sustained these folks through their unspeakable suffering is perhaps the best argument for his care for sufferers. I also loved his many George Herbert quotes (I think I need to read his poetry!) including this: “The other gods were strong but you were weak They rode but you stumbled to a throne But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak For none have wounds but God alone.” Below are some notes I took on parts of the book I loved: If trust must be earned hasn’t God already earned our trust by the bark. Your name on the cracked lips. He has already given us the incomprehensible. We may not know why suffering happens but we can know why it is not happening, and that is Because Jesus does not love us. Also, we should remember that just like a three-year-old doesn’t understand why his 30-year-old parent punishes him, we’re not going to understand all the reasons God does what he does. After all, the gap between us and God is much greater than a three-year-old to a 30-year-old Calvin: on the cross destruction was destroyed torment tormented, damnation damned, death dead, mortality made immortal Like judo! Using attack of devil against him Glory of God is magnitude of all his attributes put together. It is his beyondness Experience is key—8:10 “Walking with God…”—philosophy professor who wasn’t able to deal with his wife’s disease even though he had written books on how to handle suffering! * • rich, theologically rich yet existentially deep prayer life * o A soul in affliction finds it hard to love anything * o While knowledge will help in times of trouble, Gap between knowledge and learned experience is huge (in dealing with suffering) * o John S. Feinburg theological teacher * ♣ Wife came down with Huntington’s Corea * • Progressive neurodegenerative disorder which leads to loss of voluntary movement and memory loss, depression, dementia, paranoia * • Each of his children had 50% chance of getting disease at age 30 or later * • With his mind he knew the correct response * • But he was honest he felt God had tricked him! * o Even though he knew and wrote God knew no wrong * • He wrote: “I had all the biblical answers, but none of them made any difference in how I…felt.” * • He had such hopelessness, he was not able to function * o He did not know how to existentially access the truth of who God is! * ♣ “It’s one thing to know Jesus and his truth stored in the warehouse of your mind…it’s another thing altogether to know how to apply them in COVID-19 to your heart, life, experience, so they produce wisdom, endurance, joy, self-knowledge, courage, and humility. It’s one thing to believe in God but another thing to trust God * ♣ It’s one thing to have explanation for why God creates suffering, another to find a path through suffering.” Job didn’t see big picture he just saw god. And that’s all he needed. Pastor of 10th Donald Gray Barnhouse Would you rather get hit by a truck or a shadow? To his daughter after she lost her mother Real truck hit Jesus So now when we pass through death itself it’s only like a shadow! Important to remember the uniqueness of suffering—all of us suffer differently Be honest with God Trust Christ—wrestle until you can Keep walking with him in disciplines Examine ourselves and re-examine our loves (and the order of them) Don’t shirk community

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bailey L.

    This book is SO GOOD for those wrestling with this topic. Really, even if you aren't, it is still worth reading because undoubtedly someone in your life is wrestling with this. I read this alongside a student, and we started with part two (per Keller's suggestion) about how to practically walk through suffering so that we ended with part one regarding modern and historical philosophies about suffering. I recommend following that advice if you're at all inclined to do so / don't read philosophical This book is SO GOOD for those wrestling with this topic. Really, even if you aren't, it is still worth reading because undoubtedly someone in your life is wrestling with this. I read this alongside a student, and we started with part two (per Keller's suggestion) about how to practically walk through suffering so that we ended with part one regarding modern and historical philosophies about suffering. I recommend following that advice if you're at all inclined to do so / don't read philosophical arguments often. So many quotes I starred; I don't even know where to start. This really is a must-read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David Steele

    I have yet to meet a person who enjoys pain and suffering. Yet suffering is a part of the warp and woof of life. It is not a part of God’s original intent for creation. Since Adam’s first sin, pain and suffering have been an abnormal part of the cosmos. Suffering is an unwelcome guest who bullies his way to the table and makes demands – much like a soldier a bloody battlefield. Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller addresses this topic with candor and clarity. Keller leave I have yet to meet a person who enjoys pain and suffering. Yet suffering is a part of the warp and woof of life. It is not a part of God’s original intent for creation. Since Adam’s first sin, pain and suffering have been an abnormal part of the cosmos. Suffering is an unwelcome guest who bullies his way to the table and makes demands – much like a soldier a bloody battlefield. Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller addresses this topic with candor and clarity. Keller leaves no stone unturned here. The book is organized into three sections: Understanding the Furnace Keller introduces the problem of pain and suffering and explores some of the philosophical challenges that Christ-followers must understand and address. “Nothing is more important than to learn how to maintain a life of purpose in the midst of painful adversity,” writes Keller. Yet our culture has a tendency to respond to suffering in ways that are helpful and wrongheaded. The moralist response to suffering is to “do good.” The fatalist’s response to suffering is to “hang in there” and “endure.” The dualist response to suffering is “purified faithfulness.” And the secular response to suffering is focussed on “technique.” A combination of these erroneous responses to suffering litter the current milieu and produce a generation of confused and discouraged people. Keller rightly alerts readers to the importance of worldviews and their relation to the subject of pain and suffering. Ultimately, the matter of pain and suffering is a matter of faith. “Faith,” writes Keller “is the promise of God.” He adds, “We can be fully accepted and counted legally righteous in God’s sight through faith in Christ, solely by free grace … It means freedom from fear of the future, from any anxiety about your eternal destiny. It is the most liberating idea possible and it ultimately enables you to face all suffering, knowing that because of the cross, God is absolutely for you and that because of the resurrection, everything will be all right in the end.” Facing the Furnace Part two provides readers with the theological muscle – a crucial part of the battle. Keller unpacks the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and provides a painful but biblical rationale for the role of suffering the lives of people. At the heart of this discussion is an important look at the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. The author summarizes, “That is, in order to satisfy justice, in order to punish sin so that in love he could forgive and receive us, God had to bear the penalty for sin within himself. God the Son took the punishment we deserved, including being cut off from the Father. And so God took into his own self, his own heart, an infinite agony – out of love for us.” Keller’s treatment in part two travels great distances to help resolve the problem of evil – the so-called “Achilles heal” of the Christian faith: “So while Christianity never claims to be able to offer a full explanation of all God’s reasons behind every instance of evil and suffering – it does have a final answer to it. The answer will be given at the end of history and all who hear it and see its fulfillment will find it completely satisfying, infinitely sufficient.” While Keller never attempts to provide a comprehensive answer to the problem of evil, his treatment of this thorny subject is some of the best in print. He may not satisfy the disciples of David Hume, Voltaire, or Sam Harris – but he does give ample ammunition for believers who are looking for honest answers. Walking With God in the Furnace Parts one and two explore the philosophical and theological angles of pain and suffering. Part three helps readers with practical application. They are given practical tools for “walking with God in the furnace.” The very notion of walking with God in the furnace assumes pain – pain that some are unwilling to admit. But practical experience reveals that we live in a broken world; a world which has been torn to shreds by the consequences of sin. Keller urges readers to walk with God in suffering: “If you go into the furnace without the gospel, it will not be possible to find God in there. You will be sure he has done terrible wrong or you have and you will feel all alone. Going into the fire without the gospel is the most dangerous thing anyone can do.” So the gospel is the first and last defense of every Christ-follower; indeed it is the hope of the watching world. Second, the author stresses the importance of weeping during seasons of adversity. Elijah serves as an example of a man who cried out in great agony. He was a man unafraid of weeping. Such an approach is not only honest – it is a sign of emotional health. Third, Keller demonstrates the need for trusting in God during days of pain and adversity. Joseph is portrayed as an example of a man who trusted: If the story of Joseph and the whole of the Bible is true, then anything that comes into your life is something that, as painful as it is, you need in some way.” Jesus too, demonstrated trust in his Father and points believers in the identical direction. Keller continues to alert readers to other tools that they should utilize during their dark days. Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering is a watershed book that deserves to be read. Christ-followers will no doubt be encouraged by this Christ-exalting book; a book which drives readers to the cross of the suffering God.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    At the start of the pandemic, I was walking through a painful experience. As shops, libraries, and churches were closing, I was left trying to process my personal pain in the midst of national suffering and confusion. ⁣ ⁣ I decided to read Tim Keller’s WALKING WITH GOD THROUGH PAIN AND SUFFERING because why not dig deep into something I couldn’t ignore. I’m not usually one who seeks distraction, and I am grateful I didn’t try it now. ⁣ ⁣ Keller starts the book by explaining how different worldviews At the start of the pandemic, I was walking through a painful experience. As shops, libraries, and churches were closing, I was left trying to process my personal pain in the midst of national suffering and confusion. ⁣ ⁣ I decided to read Tim Keller’s WALKING WITH GOD THROUGH PAIN AND SUFFERING because why not dig deep into something I couldn’t ignore. I’m not usually one who seeks distraction, and I am grateful I didn’t try it now. ⁣ ⁣ Keller starts the book by explaining how different worldviews see pain and why our modern take on suffering may be the most painful one. He then gives a framework that explains four different types of pain and how God uses these experiences to draw us to Him. Our suffering is never to punish us; it is only ever for His glory and our good. And... AND... we are not alone in our suffering. Jesus endured the worst pain FOR US, so that He can be WITH US in our pain. ⁣ ⁣ WALKING WITH GOD is one of the best theology books I’ve ever read. And it contains lots of practical ideas for how to walk through hard times with God. It is well researched, Gospel-centered, and brimming with hope. I walked away from this book with a new perspective on my whole life and can see themes that run through the Bible more clearly, as nearly every story from the Word has some form of pain or suffering. ⁣ ⁣ And the assurance we have in the midst of pain? This faith we have "has set us free from optimism and taught us hope instead." We don't wish for the good to come; we have a deep-seeded knowledge of it.⁣ ⁣ "While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life's joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of the world's sorrows, tasting the coming joy."⁣ ⁣ I highly, highly recommend this book.⁣

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elisha Lawrence

    Might be my favorite book this year! The wisdom here for walking thru suffering is beautiful. Keller shows the varieties of suffering we could experience and the varied ways different people are comforted. There is not one pad answer for people in suffering. And he shows the important things to do while in suffering (weep, trust, pray, think, reorder our loves and stay in community). The Scripture and stories are in the midst of trials and many don’t seem to have a great ending. This book gives m Might be my favorite book this year! The wisdom here for walking thru suffering is beautiful. Keller shows the varieties of suffering we could experience and the varied ways different people are comforted. There is not one pad answer for people in suffering. And he shows the important things to do while in suffering (weep, trust, pray, think, reorder our loves and stay in community). The Scripture and stories are in the midst of trials and many don’t seem to have a great ending. This book gives me hope that even though my dreams for this life might not happen, I have an amazing future that can keep me hopeful til the end-the new heavens and new earth. This will be a book I’ll reference personally and refer others to for years to come!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Informative, logical, encouraging, but likely overwhelming for most clients of mine. I wouldn’t hand this one out or offer to a client without caveats and disclaimers—he is a pastor and doesn’t express the kind of grittiness that comes out of most people I know in the throes of suffering. This is a book directed towards people already steeped in church culture.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenica

    This book could not have come at a better time for me. After the hardest season I’ve ever experienced, and through a period of still-unanswered prayer... God is still good.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joshua D.

    Most books on suffering are either philosophical/theological in approach (and therefore usually cold and unhelpful to the person in the thick of suffering), or a "hold your hand" kind of book (leaving the more profound questions untouched). The former deals with WHY questions to suffering; the latter HOW questions. The beauty of Tim Keller's book is that it does both. Written for both believers skeptics, Keller pulls the string on the universal questions of suffering. It's a lengthy book, but in Most books on suffering are either philosophical/theological in approach (and therefore usually cold and unhelpful to the person in the thick of suffering), or a "hold your hand" kind of book (leaving the more profound questions untouched). The former deals with WHY questions to suffering; the latter HOW questions. The beauty of Tim Keller's book is that it does both. Written for both believers skeptics, Keller pulls the string on the universal questions of suffering. It's a lengthy book, but in the Introduction the author suggests how to navigate the book more quickly depending on what you need from it. This one will remain on my desk. I expect to flip through it often. Highly recommend.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex Stroshine

    Timothy Keller is my favourite “celebrity pastor.” His writing is clear, crisp and culturally engaged. Having spent over two decades in New York City pastoring Redeemer Presbyterian, Keller’s analysis of pain and suffering weave the insights from leading philosophers (Simone Weil) and psychologists (Jonathan Haidt) throughout. The first part of the book is based around providing a philosophical and theoretical foundation for examining pain and suffering. The second portion attempts to offer expl Timothy Keller is my favourite “celebrity pastor.” His writing is clear, crisp and culturally engaged. Having spent over two decades in New York City pastoring Redeemer Presbyterian, Keller’s analysis of pain and suffering weave the insights from leading philosophers (Simone Weil) and psychologists (Jonathan Haidt) throughout. The first part of the book is based around providing a philosophical and theoretical foundation for examining pain and suffering. The second portion attempts to offer explanations for and examination of, the various forms of suffering. The last section looks at how believers can actually apply the Bible’s teaching to their suffering. A common complaint of C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” is that it is too theoretical and not very applicable. The same criticism can be leveled at this book. The strength of this book is Keller’s engagement with the different episodes of suffering found throughout the Bible. He takes an in-depth look at the lives of Joseph, Job and Jesus in order to demonstrate how each of them dealt with the pain in their lives. Keller acknowledges the pain and grief are excruciating and that not everyone in the midst of suffering will react to the same prescriptive remedies and treatments. Thus, he avoids spending too much time on providing specific ways to help people in pain, although in the third section of the book, he does offer some general suggestions, such as allowing oneself to lament, place trust in God and pray to Him. He follows in the same line as Lewis; Keller tells us to keep living in obedience to God, through reading Scripture, praying, participating in fellowship, and eventually we will feel God’s presence. On pg. 274, Keller claims that it is not until we are in the grips of grief and pain where our love for God will be proved genuine. Before this, Keller states, we may be worshiping God for what He provides us, we give Him “mercenary love.” This may be disconcerting, especially for those of us who, by God’s grace, have been able to avoid trauma and tragedy in our lives. I agree with Keller that when we suffer affliction or adversity, it allows our trust and confidence in God to show, but I would also add that in times of “dry spells,” when we feel as if God is distant and mute to us, is another way we know God and demonstrate our devotion to Him because our continued belief in Him, even if He seems remote, is also evidence that we continually trust and worship Him. Keller’s book is an important one. EVERYONE will have to face suffering someday and “Walking With God Through Pain And Suffering” will provide every Christian with helpful guidance and Biblical truth in how to deal with affliction.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    This book should be required reading for every Christian, and thus far in my life, this is the only book besides the Bible (and, half-jokingly, Paradise Lost) I've said that about. Here's why. So often, the Problem of Evil is carelessly tossed out as a reason God shouldn't be worshiped, making those who are prone to uncertainty (i.e., me) squirm uncomfortably as we try not to 1) act defensive or 2) fall into a spiral of scary doubt. This book shows how Christianity, far from being debunked by th This book should be required reading for every Christian, and thus far in my life, this is the only book besides the Bible (and, half-jokingly, Paradise Lost) I've said that about. Here's why. So often, the Problem of Evil is carelessly tossed out as a reason God shouldn't be worshiped, making those who are prone to uncertainty (i.e., me) squirm uncomfortably as we try not to 1) act defensive or 2) fall into a spiral of scary doubt. This book shows how Christianity, far from being debunked by the Problem of Evil, is actually the most hope-filled and robust answer to it. And since suffering is an inevitable and even major part of every life, it's important to know exactly how powerful the Gospel's answer to it is. Just the first section, challenging our modern Western view of suffering as a meaningless interruption to our happiness, is worth the price of the book. But Keller continues to deliver well-rounded research, nuanced understanding, and compassion in every chapter afterward, as well. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering has shifted my paradigms. It has encouraged me as my family walked through two enormous challenges to our faith this year. It has shown me another facet of the precious jewel that is God's Gospel. I cannot recommend it enough. P.S. My one slight problem with the book is the stories at the end of the chapters. I appreciate the grace and joy of the people who shared their testimonies in this book. It's amazing to see how their faith holds strong through trials I can't even fathom. But sometimes, though I don't doubt the power of what they've come to realize through their trials, I had a hard time seeing that power be communicated to me, the reader. I was often left feeling more frightened or discouraged by the plots of their stories than encouraged by the moral of their stories. This is not because their testimonies are not amazing, but (I think) because it's so hard to communicate a specially-designed message from the Lord to YOU in a way that also blesses other readers of other temperaments and backgrounds. It is still not enough to lose a star, however.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Angie (Bussen) Siedell

    Let me start by saying, I am a huge Tim Keller fan. He's one of the most insightful authors I've read, and he shares some great insights in this work. This book deserves a five star rating for its passages on how a person should/should not deal with a grieving/suffering person. So, if you're not the grieving, but want to know how to better help those who are, run out and get this book. Or, if you're surrounded by idiots who just can't keep themselves from telling you "It's for the best." or "Eve Let me start by saying, I am a huge Tim Keller fan. He's one of the most insightful authors I've read, and he shares some great insights in this work. This book deserves a five star rating for its passages on how a person should/should not deal with a grieving/suffering person. So, if you're not the grieving, but want to know how to better help those who are, run out and get this book. Or, if you're surrounded by idiots who just can't keep themselves from telling you "It's for the best." or "Everything happens for a reason." or for those who have flat out abandoned you when things are difficult, give this to them as a gift. This book falls short, however, in sharing any new insights for those in the midst of the fiery furnace. From the viewpoint of a Christian who understands God's promises and already has eternal hope, but is seeking practical ways to hurt less in the day to day, there really isn't anything we haven't already heard before. There were several underlinable passages (Jesus was angry about death, and that's okay. Job wrestled with God about his situation, and God still called him righteous.), but for the most part I spent most of the book mentally sparring with the cliche "solutions" for hurting people.

  28. 5 out of 5

    L.M.

    I do not feel that I can give this book justice in this review, but I shall try my absolute best in as few words as possible. This book came to me in my reading journey in the middle of a very trying and difficult period in my life. As a Christian, I know that no one on this earth is exempt from suffering, but I truly wanted to learn to "suffer well" and to learn, grow, and mature through suffering. This book is a treasure trove of historical/cultural/religious views on suffering, the Christian I do not feel that I can give this book justice in this review, but I shall try my absolute best in as few words as possible. This book came to me in my reading journey in the middle of a very trying and difficult period in my life. As a Christian, I know that no one on this earth is exempt from suffering, but I truly wanted to learn to "suffer well" and to learn, grow, and mature through suffering. This book is a treasure trove of historical/cultural/religious views on suffering, the Christian scriptures' view of suffering and for dealing with it, and the author's compassionate, loving advice on how to walk with God through the pain and suffering. For anyone who is dealing with grief, loss, hardship, betrayal, or a horrendous circumstance, this book may prove immeasurably helpful. I recommend it to anyone who is at the point in their journey when they're ready to listen to someone else on the subject of their pain. If you're still in the emotional mist, it might not be the best time to pick this up, but if you're in a place where you can think and contemplate your journey, this book will be of great help to you.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barnabas Piper

    I loved the first half of this book, in which Keller broke down the various world views and philosophies of suffering. I found it so applicable and convicting to my own inconsistencies and blind spots. I connected less well with the second half of the book, the application part. It's not that it wash;t good as much as that I generally prefer concepts to applications in books. Over all, though, this is a great book just as one would expect from Keller. I loved the first half of this book, in which Keller broke down the various world views and philosophies of suffering. I found it so applicable and convicting to my own inconsistencies and blind spots. I connected less well with the second half of the book, the application part. It's not that it wash;t good as much as that I generally prefer concepts to applications in books. Over all, though, this is a great book just as one would expect from Keller.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I'm normally a huge Tim Keller fan, but for whatever reason, this one totally didn't do it for me. I didn't even finish it. I just got really bogged down in it. I made it about halfway. Everyone keeps saying how great it is. Maybe I should try again. I'm normally a huge Tim Keller fan, but for whatever reason, this one totally didn't do it for me. I didn't even finish it. I just got really bogged down in it. I made it about halfway. Everyone keeps saying how great it is. Maybe I should try again.

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