Mention the word suffering, evil or any other words and you are likely to get some very interesting and contradictory statements. The Christian has a suffering Lord who lived and breathed from birth till his early 30’s but never sinned, died a bloody death, rose from the grave thus defeating death and the grave and ascended to the right hand of the Father. While many people view suffering in the wrong way in contemporary culture and in the Church—recently Dr. Tim Keller wrote Walking with God through Pain and Suffering what I consider to be one of the finest treatments on the topic of suffering I’ve read.
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is broken into three parts. Part one explores understanding the furnace in four chapters. Chapter one examines the culture of suffering, chapter two the victory of Christianity, chapter three the challenge to the secular. The section concludes with looking at the problem of evil. Section two is titled facing the furnace. Here Keller in six chapters looks a t the challenge to faith, the sovereignty of God, the suffering of god, the reason for suffering, learning to walk and the varieties of suffering. The book concludes by looking at what it means to walk with God in the furnace through weeping, trusting, praying, thinking, thanking, loving, and hoping.
In seminary I wrote a research paper on the topic of suffering from the book of Job. In that paper I examined what people in our culture have said about suffering in addition to what has been said by respected leaders in evangelicalism. What I wish I had when I was working through this issue in seminary is a book like Walking with God through Pain and Suffering one that zooms out to look at how our culture approaches and deals with the topic of suffering, how the Church has handled these questions and how to grow through suffering. It is precisely because this book engages the culture’s view, what the Church has said, what the Bible teaches and why this issue is important for the Christian that Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is such an important contribution to the literature on suffering. Most books on this topic excel in one or two areas (culture of Scripture) but this book excels at them all and brings together the best scholarship to bear in one book. In my humble opinion this is Dr. Keller’s most important book because questions of suffering touch everyone—whether they are Christian or not.
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering was a timely and important for me at this point in my life. My dad recently came back into my life a year and a half ago after six and a half years away from my family and I. He came back with frontal temporal dementia which will erode his brain and inhibit his ability to function as he gets older. While I’ve thought and read about the issue of suffering a lot over the years, in recent days I’ve been thinking a lot more about the topic of suffering. This is why I appreciate Walking with God so much because the author takes us deep into this topic but does so with a view to fidelity to the Word of God so that the reader will understand what the Gospel says about these topics. In classic Keller fashion, he makes much of Jesus while guiding his readers through the various arguments our culture makes about the topic all to expose our heart and minds to the truth of the Word of God. For this and many others reasons Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is one of the most important books of the year and is going in my top five books that I read this year.
Author: Tim Keller
Publisher: Dutton Adult (2013)
I received this for free from Dutton Adult book review program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”