My first book, Torn to Heal, has been released for almost a month now. I’ve had a few conversations with people as a result. One question seems to keep coming up. “Why did you write a book on suffering?”
A partial answer is that I wrote this book to myself. It’s not that I have suffered more than other people. I haven’t. But I’m also not ignorant of personal suffering. I have had my fair share of pain. There are wounds from my past that still seethe at times. Add to all of this that a black dog is perpetually chasing me and sometimes he catches me. Going through seasons of depression as a pastor has forced me to not only develop a theology of suffering but also to use it.
For years I tried dealing with my pain through the superficial remedies often hailed by the church. I found myself as the bleeding woman who had “spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse”. Superficial answers don’t help in the face of deep suffering. My superficial answers couldn’t hide from the glaring words of Scripture. Nor would my inner turmoil be calmed.
While at a break point, I asked myself one question that changed everything. “What if this suffering isn’t solely from the hand of the devil, but is actually from a good God?”
I no longer had to run from verses like Philippians 1:29 that seems to view suffering as a gift of grace. But what would this mean for my battles with depression? What would it mean for the things that I’ve endured in the past? What if suffering is actually “a means that God uses to draw believers into greater conformity with Jesus Christ”? And not just “uses” as in “makes something beautiful out of a mess that Satan created”—but what if the Sovereign Creator actually orchestrated the mess as a God-ordained means of lasting joy?
That’s raw. That hurts.
And so I turned to the Psalms. And here I found that the Scriptures do not shy away from emotion. This is where I came up with “the gospel-driven path between dualism that acts as if God has lost control of his world and fatalism/stoicism that tires to bury our pain beneath an emotionless acceptance of whatever happens*.”
Neither dualism or stoicism helped me. And neither help the church. This leads to the full answer to why I wrote this book:
I want to see believers obey 1 Peter 4…Here Peter commands us to develop a Christ-exalting theology of suffering and then to not be shocked when we actually have to use it. My passion is that the church might learn to suffer well by modeling deep and abiding faith in God in the midst of suffering. I want to see a church that choosing suffering over ungodliness, a church that stares down the darkness of a lost world and says, ‘I’ll take the gospel to them,’ even if the only way to do that is to embrace difficulty, struggle, and suffering. (Torn to Heal, 55)
I believe this book can be very helpful to the church. One of the reasons that I chose Cruciform Press is because of the length of their books. This forced me to write a book on suffering that would be “concise and readable”. I believe folks that are currently in the furnace of affliction will be helped by this book. But I also believe you need this book even if you are not at present suffering—in fact you might want to read it even more in that season.
So I need your help. Here are four ways that you can help with this project.
- Buy the book. Read the book. Give it to others.
- Write an honest review on Amazon.
- If you have a blog, join the blog tour scheduled for June 10-14
- Get the word out. Tweet about the book. Share it on Facebook.
*That quote is from Dr. Jones’ endorsement on the back. I was very encouraged by his endorsement because it meant that I had been clear. He echoed perfectly my intentions for the book.