Wednesday, November 7, 2012

When it Hurts

Early on in his book Where is God When it Hurts?, author Philip Yancey cites a quote by C.S. Lewis, "You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." This statement is of the utmost relevance for anyone who calls themselves a Christian when they are forced to deal with pain. Of course many Christians have looked to Lewis for insight and wisdom on this topic in his landmark book The Problem with Pain. Actually after witnessing the depth and craft exhibited in this work by Yancey, I would put this work on the same shelf with Lewis' Pain.

Although this book focuses mostly on issues dealing with physical pain, it is entirely relevant for folks dealing with a spectrum of emotional pains such as depression, regret, loneliness, and loss of interest in life. In fact, many symptoms of emotional pains are manifest in much the same way as physical pain. This book begins with a detailed thesis on the value of pain to the human body. It explores how our nervous system points to a supernatural origin in its sheer ingenuity. It then tells us how to prepare for and help one another through suffering. Finally, it explores in depth the question when it comes to dealing with hurt and pain, "What difference does the Christian faith make?"

Yancey makes the statement that pain and suffering are part of the human condition. It is a part of the human experience that nobody can escape or weasel out of. Given that we must all face pain and suffering, how are we to respond? That is the whole point of this work, namely to help us gain perspective, to help us prepare for the inevitable, to help us learn appropriate ways to respond given the alternatives, and to teach us how to bless and show grace to others who are afflicted. This book is not your typical Christian-lite cotton candy. This is a work that will expand and shape your thinking and your theology. Top notch work.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26

God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 4-5

Thanks to Bill at Cycleguy's Spin for bringing this book to my attention.