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Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores Paperback – September 15, 2015
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“In a poetic, powerful, passionate, and challenging book, Diane Langberg, with her many years of counseling experience, takes us on a disturbing (and healing) journey into the hearts of the survivors of many different types of terrible trauma all over the world—into our own bent and broken hearts, and then into the heart of an amazing, loving God who was humiliated, crucified, and abandoned so that we (and the whole creation) might be healed and delivered from the power of evil. This is a superb master-class in counseling and pastoral care with a gifted, experienced, and wise therapist.”
Richard Winter, MD, Therapist and Professor of Practical Theology and Counseling, Covenant Theological Seminary
“Through this book, Dr. Langberg names one of the most insidious threats to spiritual health in our generation: trauma and the wounded heart. While disturbing, her unrelenting campaign identifies the next
‘mission field’ of the church, those who are suffering silently. This book is for all who hunger to help a loved one, congregant, or client apply the truth of God’s Word as a healing ointment to the hidden anguish that trauma leaves in its wake.”
Roy Peterson, President, American Bible Society
“This book reflects the glory and love of God throughout forty years of counseling experience. Diane is a masterful teacher and counselor for victims of abuse and violence. Reflecting Christ, she inspires new and experienced counselors and encourages them to bring the love of God to suffering hearts. This book is a masterpiece.”
Luciene Schalm, President of REVER (Restoring Lives, Equipping Restorers) Ministry, Brazil; missionary of Comunidade Cristã Siloé
“We live in a broken world and evil is real. Where the true light of the gospel of Christ goes, the darkness of evil in this world retreats. William Wilberforce reflected the character of Christ into the eighteenth century British Empire and faithfully led the fight against slavery for forty years until it was outlawed. Diane Langberg has for forty years looked into the eyes of those wounded by evil and been a powerful voice for healing, justice, and truth. This book is a place of insight, wisdom, encouragement, and challenge for the body of Christ to love our precious Lord and to reflect his heart and love to the brokenhearted.”
Greg Pritchard, PhD, Director of European Leadership Forum, President of Forum of Christian Leaders
“Diane Langberg has seen the effects of trauma all over the globe from Rwandan survivors of genocide, to inner city kids plagued with PTSD, to suburban moms trapped in violent marriages, to middle schoolers who cut themselves just to feel something, to big steeple pastors in American churches. Suffering is real and it really hurts body and soul. In Suffering and the Heart of God, Diane Langberg never diminishes the pain of suffering, but neither does she despair. By looking to the suffering of the cross of Christ, Diane Langberg leads us to hope and healing.”
Frank A. James, PhD, DPhil, President, Biblical Theological Seminary
“This book is a powerful invitation into the fellowship of the suffering, a reparative work of the vulnerable, afflicted, and abused. Dr. Langberg is gentle and caring to the victims, confrontational to the abusers, and challenging to the church, which often fails to be a refuge. As a therapist and trainer, this is the best manual I’ve seen on what a therapist’s heart should look like. A good portion of the book is dedicated to teaching how not to be consumed by the evil in this world, pointing to Christ who can offer restoration to all.”
Stefana-Ioana Racorean, Family psychotherapist and trainer, Dianoia Institute of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice; The Association of Christian Psychologists in Romania
“As someone who has prosecuted, investigated, and confronted child sexual abuse for over twenty years, I have encountered dark suffering up close. As a Christian, I have spent many hours agonizing how to reconcile such suffering with a God who calls himself “love.” Suffering and the Heart of God is an amazing book that does a masterful job in helping to see suffering through the heart of a loving God who knows and understands suffering and the pain it creates. This book brings hope to the sufferer who wonders where God is in the midst of it all. It’s a must-read!”
Boz Tchividjian, JD, Executive Director, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment)
“I challenge you to name a more influential Christian psychologist today than Dr. Langberg. This is not hyperbole! While an impressive communicator, brilliant thinker, and an astute therapist, the real reason for her influence is her willingness to be a student first—of broken people, of herself, and of God. Too often influential leaders spend much time touting themselves. This book will show you something different, in that you will see more of God and his heart for suffering people than you will of Dr. Langberg—just as she would want it.”
Philip G. Monroe, PsyD, Professor of Counseling & Psychology, Biblical Seminary Graduate School of Counseling and Global Trauma Recovery Institute
“God never wastes a wound. He is in the midst of our darkest moment revealing himself—full of love, truth, hope, and healing. This book is an absolute treasure—a gift of grace to us all.”
Tim Clinton, President, American Association of Christian Counseling
“Diane Langberg brings to these moving essays decades of experience working with trauma survivors in the United States and abroad. This is no arms-length reflection on the nature of human suffering. Throughout, she repeatedly points her readers to Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, who is the only hope for victim and perpetrator alike—and for the counselor who desires to be used by God to make a difference amidst terrible brokenness and sin.”
Michael R. Emlet, MDiv, MD, Faculty and Counselor, the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF); author of CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet
“Do not read this book unless you are genuinely open to being led by the Holy Spirit to become more involved in ministering ‘to the least of these’ in Christ’s name. Dr. Langberg has written a powerful and thorough summary of the complex reality of trauma in our world today. She has described Christ’s Gethsemane weeping and his Calvary caring for those who are wounded and needy, and she calls us to weep and to watch and to care with him. She challenges us—Will we weep and watch and care, or will we sleep?”
Dr. Samuel Logan, Associate International Director, The World Reformed Fellowship
“As a Rwandan who lived through genocide, experienced my own trauma, and witnessed trauma for my people and my clients, I know firsthand the truth of what Diane teaches in this book. Until you understand the psychology of evil, sin, and suffering, many things will remain hidden and unanswered, but Christ can transform lives affected by emotional trauma into instruments to restore life and turn victim into victor. Thank you, Diane, for addressing this difficult and often hidden topic.”
Baraka Paulette Uwingeneye, President, Rwandan Association of Christian Counselors; Director of Aftercare, International Justice Mission, Rwanda
“Diane drops insightful one-liners like others drop names. I remember the first time I heard her describe trauma as the ‘mission field of the twenty-first century.’ Suddenly, everything we were grappling with in the field made sense. A thousand lightbulbs went off. Synapses clicked. That one sentence opened up a new direction in my personal life and vocation. Read at your own risk because there’s no going back to the way life was before.”
John Walter, President, African Leadership; cofounder of The Trauma Healing Institute
“When I get the chance to listen to or read Diane Langberg’s work, I take it. Of the five greatest talks I’ve heard in my sixty-eight years, she gave two of them. Her writing inspires. She is as tough-minded as people come, never underestimating the horrors of life. But walking with her through those horrors inspires me with hope. Because Diane walks with Jesus, and where Jesus is, there is hope. Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores will turn your heart more fully to God in the midst of the evils and mundane cares of the world that you face. Please read it.”
Everett L. Worthington, Jr., Author of Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past
“Stepping into the trenches with those whose lives have been blown apart by the heinous business of human trafficking means you’re battling alongside them on many fronts: past, present, and future. The terrain is dark and hostile, and the Enemy seems to have won. But, as Langberg artfully reminds us, we are but chaplains in this war. The battle is the Lord’s and the victory is certain. Be of good courage and press on!”
Jeanne L. Allert, MEd, Founder and Executive Director, The Samaritan Women
About the Author
Diane Langberg, PhD, is a world-recognized authority on sex-trafficking and violence against women, setting up training programs to assist Rwandans and many others around the world in working with victims of trauma. She also directs her own Christian counseling practice, employing about fifteen other counselors, and was co-founder of The Place of Refuge, an innercity nonprofit in Philadelphia that works with the traumatized. Among Dr. Langberg s books are Counsel for Pastors Wives, On the Threshold of Hope, and Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse. She has also written an article for the book Reformed Means Missional, which has also been released as a minibook entitled Bringing Christ to Abused Women.
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I recently have started counseling for PTSD. My counselor had recommended and I have read many more secular books on flashbacks, how the brain processes trauma, etc. These were all very helpful for me letting me know that my emotions and reactions are normal for someone in my situation but left me wanting to know how I could ever let the Lord heal my heart. I'm thankful for being able to see that what I was going through was typical, but I wanted something more than that--to have my heart be whole.
Dr. Langberg has helped me understand the cross of Christ and what it means to me as someone who has been through years of trauma. There were times I had to put down the book and just cried. After years of being on the receiving end of fairly condescending, even if well meaning, help from other Christians, I feel like I have finally gotten to sit down with a good friend who knows all of my baggage, has seen every futile and harmful thing I have done to try to heal my wounds, and instead of lecturing me told me how Jesus sees me and who I am in him.
If you have ever been through real trauma, I cannot recommend a better book. If you are in ministry, please read this book. There are so many things that well meaning Christian people do, out of a pure heart and in a real attempt to be wise and biblical, that are deeply retraumatizing. Many of the things that deepened my PTSD which I have experienced at the hands of church leadership were dealt with and advised against in this book. Dr. Langberg was even able to give a clear biblical explanation for why, even though on the surface those things may seem like good ideas, they aren't actually scriptural.