Dr. Kellemen writes . . .
You’re tired of quick quips (“Just trust God”) and false hopes (“Time heals all wounds”). You’re ready for real and raw, honest and hopeful conversation about suffering, loss, and grief—from a Christian perspective. You’re longing for real answers, for real people, with real struggles. You’ve come to the right place. When life’s losses invade your world, learn how to face suffering face-to-face with God.
I will do a full review of the book next week, but over the next few days I want to share an interview Dr. Kellemen did concerning the main ideas behind his writing. This interview serves as a very helpful precursor and introduction to this book.
If you have recently suffered through the loss of someone close to you, or know someone who has, you will want to hear his honest, yet comforting words. In the interview, Dr. Kellemen responds to several questions related to the subject of suffering, but most importantly, how one can find hope even in the midst of great pain.
I encourage you to take the time to read his responses, and the book, it will be well worth your time.
Today's questions and responses:
7. How will the grieving person benefit from reading God’s Healing for Life’s Losses?
I weave throughout each chapter three stories: my story of facing the death of my father, a ministry couple’s story of facing an unjust ministry termination, and biblical narratives of suffering people in the Scriptures. These combine to “normalize” the grief and growth process so readers understand that while their path is unique, it is not at all abnormal.
The “eight stage model” in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses helps readers to travel down the grief and growth path. We live in a fallen world and it often falls on us. When it does, when the weight of the world crushes us, squeezes the life out of us, we need hope. New life. A resuscitated heart. A resurrected life with resurrected hope. God’s healing path is a personal journey. God’s Healing for Life’s Losses uses God’s Word as the sufferers GPS: God’s Positioning System. It traces God’s pathway through grief to growth so that readers learn how to face their suffering face-to-face with God.
Written in “gift book” format for the person facing suffering, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses includes two built-in application/discussion guides (including a journal section). This makes it perfect for individual or group use. Persons suffering any type of life loss (job loss, illness, divorce, church conflict, the empty nest, death of a loved one) will benefit from the real-life wisdom they discover in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.
8. What words of wisdom do you have for friends, counselors, and pastors of those who are suffering? How can we help?
There’s a tendency, on the one hand, for helpers to rush in quoting Romans 8:28 and telling Christ’s story before listening to their friend’s story. So helpers need to listen, however, that’s not in some “clinical, analytical” sense. We need to listen empathetically. We need to enter the pain, hurt, and grief of our hurting friends. Of course, that’s going to elicit pain for the helper. So they will need to be taking their hurt, pain, and grief to the Divine Comforter. That’s the message of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11—the only truly effective comforter is the person who consistently turns to the Spirit for His comfort.
There’s another tendency, on the other hand, for helpers never to share scriptural insight. In our wise desire not to be trite, we end up not offering much of any biblical wisdom. Paul got it right in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 when he said that because he loved them so much, he gave them not only the Scriptures but his own soul, because they were dear to him. We must give people both our souls and God’s Scripture. Truth and love must kiss. This doesn’t mean “preaching at people.” Rather, it involves the art of the “trialogue”—the helper, the person receiving help, and the Holy Spirit through God’s Word working together. It means having “spiritual conversations” where you ask sensitive, caring, timely questions that relate God’s Word to the sufferer’s life. It means engaging in “scriptural explorations” where you explore specific passages together and ask probing questions so that the person suffering can find biblical wisdom and comfort.
9. What are some of the questions God’s Healing for Life’s Losses answers for its readers?
One of the mindsets I highlight in the book is that we can find God even when we can’t find answers. So that makes me a tad hesitant to emphasize what “answers” readers will find. Maybe another way to put it is, “What are some of the questions that God’s Healing for Life’s Losses explores?”
We explore the age-old question of how a good God can allow evil and suffering. We examine the contrast between the world’s way of processing suffering and Christ’s way. We probe various purposes for suffering. We consider what suffering says about the character of God. We discuss what hope and healing really mean and look like. We ponder what is involved in truly grieving our losses and what is involved in grieving, but not as those who have no hope.
While there are no easy answers, a consistent point made by God’s Healing for Life’s Losses is that in suffering, God is not getting back at you; He is getting you back to Himself. Suffering opens our hands to God. It was Augustine who declared, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there is nowhere for Him to put it.” God loves us too much to allow us to forget our neediness. God makes therapeutic use of our suffering. Luther taught that suffering creates in the child of God a delicious despair. Suffering is God’s putrid tasting medicine of choice resulting in delicious healing. Healing medicine for what? For our ultimate sickness—the arrogance that we do not need God. Suffering causes us to groan for home and to live in hope. God refuses to allow us to get too comfy here. Instead, He allows suffering—daily casket processionals—to blacken our sun so we cry out to His Son. Suffering reminds us that we’re not home yet.
The interview will continue tomorrow. In the meantime you can read the Introduction here: The Introduction
And here are Three Dozen Quotes of Note on God’s Healing
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3 John 8