- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 4, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594634408
- ISBN-13: 978-1594634406
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (379 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Walking with God through Pain and Suffering Paperback – August 4, 2015
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As Keller notes, no one is immune to pain and suffering. No matter how hard we work to remain healthy and maintain strong relationships with family and friends and at work, “something will inevitably ruin it,” he writes. “Human life is fatally fragile and subject to forces beyond our power to manage.” To avoid falling into despair, we need spiritual support. After all, the great theme of the Bible is how God brings joy through suffering. This insightful book offers hard-earned advice on how to accept and ultimately transcend the pain. First, Keller examines human suffering through the ages and the ways that different cultures and religions have coped. Next, he discusses what the Bible says about suffering. Finally, he offers practical advice on how to live through it. He discusses the problem of evil, the reasons for suffering, the varieties of suffering, and the necessity of hope. A luminous and ultimately hopeful examination of the many aspects of suffering. --June Sawyers --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Praise for Walking with God through Pain and Suffering
“It has something for everyone—something for the agnostic (Keller makes a strong argument that there are no true atheists); something for the philosopher (although he invites the wounded reader to skip that section); and something for the believer being beckoned into the inner sanctum of sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (a place no one naturally wants to go).” - The Gospel Coalition
"It is a resource that takes a multidimensional approach to suffering - tackling the internal and external realities - and takes us deep theologically and practically." - Vertical Living Ministries
"A luminous and ultimately hopeful examination of the many aspects of suffering." - Booklist
Praise for Timothy Keller and his other books
"Tim Keller's ministry in New York City is leading a generation of seekers and skeptics toward belief in God. I thank God for him." – Billy Graham
“Unlike most suburban megachurches, much of Redeemer is remarkably traditional. What is not traditional is Dr. Keller’s skill in speaking the language of his urbane audience…Observing Dr. Keller’s professorial pose on stage, it is easy to understand his appeal.” – The New York Times
“Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians.” – Christianity Today
“With intellectual, brimstone-free sermons that manage to cite Woody Allen alongside Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Keller draws some 5,000 young followers every Sunday. Church leaders see him as a model of how to evangelize urban centers across the country, and Keller has helped ‘plant’ 50 gospel-based Christian churches around New York plus another 50 from San Francisco to London.” – New York Magazine
“This is the book I give to all my friends who are serious spiritual seekers or skeptics.” – Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, on The Reason for God
“Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Written for skeptics and the believers who love them, the book draws on the author's encounters as founding pastor of New York's booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church…[The Reason for God] should serve both as testimony to the author's encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to reevaluate what they believe, and why.” – Publishers Weekly on The Reason for God
“World has briefly reviewed about 200 books over the past year. Many stand out, but one in particular is likely to change many lives and ways of thinking. World’s Book of the Year is Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. ” – Marvin Olasky on The Reason for God
“It’s a great resource to equip you to speak with your secular friends; to show them why the Christian understanding of marriage is not only a tremendous blessing, it’s the only one that works.” – ChristianPost.com on The Meaning of Marriage
“The Meaning of Marriage is incredibly rich with wisdom and insight that will leave the reader, whether single or married, feeling uplifted. While the book is filled with expertly selected biblical verses, nonreligious readers willing to ‘try on’ these observations may find answers not only to the meaning of marriage but to that even bigger question—the meaning of life itself.” – The Washington Times on The Meaning of Marriage
“Theologically rich and philosophically informed, yet accessible and filled with practical wisdom.” – Comment Magazine on Every Good Endeavor
“This book is for us all and through its reading it can change and reshape your entire outlook on your life.” – Sarah Macintosh on Every Good Endeavor
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Top Customer Reviews
Keller divides the book into three parts based on the biblical metaphor where suffering is described as a "fiery furnace." Fire is an image used throughout the Bible as an image describing the torment and pain of suffering. The Bible speaks frequently of troubles and trials as "walking through the fire," a "fiery ordeal", and a "fiery furnace."
Therefore, Keller builds his themes around this image. In Part One Keller considers the furnace from the outside of us. He tackles "the phenomenon of human suffering, as well as the various ways that different cultures, religions, and eras in history have sought to help people face and get through it [suffering]."
In part two Keller moves away from the theoretical realm and begins to hone in on the personal and character issues that are developed when we suffer. He seeks to demonstrate that the common ways we handle suffering via avoidance, denial, and despair are essentially to waste our suffering. On the other hand, the Bible presents a balanced view in how to handle suffering in a step by step fashion. Biblical truth is always balanced and faces hardships head-on because these are the fires that God uses in our lives to mold our character and make us more like Christ.
Part three is the most practical part of the book. Suffering is actually designed by God to "refine us, not destroy us." Keller explains in this final section how we can can properly orient ourselves toward God in the midst of our suffering so that we walk as Jesus walked in His great suffering.
The best time to read a book on suffering is before you are in the midst of the furnace. Keller recommends that you read sections two and three if you are already in the midst of great suffering. However, the best time to prepare for suffering is before it occurs. Therefore, it would be wise to read this book in the calm before the storm. Christians need to be prepared and develop a theological foundation of suffering before we enter the hot furnaces of life.
Americans seem to suffer more due to the fact that they are even suffering - than because of the suffering in and of itself. Keller wisely shows that suffering is a normal part of living in a fallen world. Life is full of various kinds of sufferings and we will always find ourselves coming into, or coming out of the fires of the furnace. God's promise is that when you "pass through the waters...when you walk through the fire...I will be with you." Jesus faced the ultimate suffering and furnace [the cross] and came through unscathed on our behalf. He was victorious over all the fires that we faced so that we too can be victorious as we face the fires that will come in Him, and with Him by our side.
I highly recommend this book as a wonderful resource that takes seriously the problems and complexities of suffering without watering them down. It is a resource that takes a multidimensional approach to suffering - tackling the internal and external realities - and takes us deep theologically and practically. It is good spiritual food for the mind and soul. Keller also weaves many personal stories of men and women along the way in this journey of suffering that will help you connect to the truths that he is communicating - not just for information, but for transformation.
I believe that God will use this book to powerfully help Christians realize that God has a plan and purpose to bring good out of all of our suffering. Out of each furnace that we enter - though difficult and painful - we will be refined by the fire and come out like gold. We will come out shining like the Son if we learn to trust and depend on His grace before, during, and in the aftermath of our trials. As Keller writes, "In Jesus Christ we see that God actually experiences the pain of the fire as we do. He is truly God with us, in love and understanding, in our anguish. He plunged himself into our furnace so that, when we find ourselves in the fire, we can turn to him and know we will not be consumed but will be made into people great and beautiful."
What Keller does masterfully, as those who have sat under his teaching can attest, is throughout the book he fuses together not only thoughtful reflections on the issue, reading a wide scope of authors, and taking us constantly to Christ. Far from a self-help book or a four points to dealing with pain and suffering, Keller has crafted a book that speaks to where people are at yet pointing them to Christ. His books are much like his sermons that identify the problem, our inadequate ways of dealing with it through legalism/moralism or irreligion, and then pointing to Christ.
The book refuses to take a simple approach to the problem. Keller makes it clear that the amount of evil, pain, and suffering in the world is diverse and so should any theodicy. He masterfully takes us not only to the formal or logical problem of evil but the existential problem of evil quoting everyone from CS Lewis to Alvin Plantinga to Simon Veil (by the way, how many Presbyterian pastors do you know who quote a mystic like Veil?) He dips into writers who are not Christian while staying away from Christian writers who simply write about the problem in a popular kind of self-help way.
The book is broken into three sections: Framing the complexity of the problem (philosophical), framing how God redeems evil, pain, and suffering in our lives (theological), and finally our response to the problem (existential). Throughout the book I never got the sense that Keller is advocating a quick "fix it" to the problem. He is clear that some of the "words of comfort" we have offered people during their moments of suffering is at best trite, at worst cruel.
Finally, there is something refreshing about a pastor who has a good understanding of the heart. I was particularly grateful for chapter 15 which demonstrates that good thinking/theology need not be usurped by talk purely about the heart. His challenge to go in to our hearts to evaluate the ordering of our loves was masterful and important for everyone who takes ministry seriously. Not only must we think well but we must have our hearts enlarged.
One last note. It occurred to me that leading with something as "academic" as the philosophical problem (the first section) that evil, pain, and suffering seems to create for the Christian faith can be problematic for readers. The temptation will be to quit early because it seems too academic. Please hang in there. As my prof, JP Moreland used to encourage us in metaphysics, it's ok if you get 50% of it. It will begin to make sense later. In the same way, take heart. The Christian faith provides resources far greater than "just have faith and believe it" because the Christian faith is reasonable. So when you get to the first section, largely what Keller is trying to do is to remove some of the cobwebs from our mind as we have all experienced at least the question how God could exist when we experience so much evil, pain and suffering. Hang in there with the reading! It will pay off in the end!
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