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 soon, but for now I continue to share 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.
Also, if you missed them, you can read the previous interviews by scrolling backwards in the 3rdJohn8 blog.
Today's questions and responses:
17. In your second stage, you move with your readers from anger to complaint. Christians aren’t comfortable with a word like “complaint.” What do you mean by that and why is it biblical and necessary?
Anger is the typical “second stage” in the world’s grieving journey. Forsaking denial, the truth sinks in. Something bad, horrific has occurred. We’ve lost something or someone dear to us. Our loss frustrates our desires and blocks our goals. It ticks us off. We’re mad. We want to lash out. At life. At the world. At . . . God. This is where grief gets very confusing for the committed Christian. We love God; we know He loves us. We know God is good; we know life has now turned bad. So we want to know, sometimes we want to scream it, “How could a good God allow such evil and suffering!?” But dare we ask? Do we dare verbalize our complaint, our lament to God? The Scriptures are clear—God invites lament, complaint. The Bible repeatedly illustrates believers responding to God’s invitation with honest words that would make many a modern Christian shudder.
I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t God judge the Israelites for complaining?” There are different words and a distinct context between the sinful complaint of the Israelites in Numbers and the godly complaint/lament of Job, the Psalmists, Jeremiah, and many others. Biblical complaint complains to God about the fallen world. Ungodly complaint complains about God and accuses Him of lacking goodness, holiness, and wisdom.
In candor we’re honest with ourselves; in complaint we’re honest to God. Complaint is vulnerable frankness about life to God in which I express my pain and confusion over how a good God allows evil and suffering. We needlessly react against the word “complaint.” “Christians can’t complain!” we insist. Yet numerically, there are more Psalms of complaint and lament than Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. Complaints are faith-based acts of persistent trust. They are one of the many moods of faith. Psalm 91’s exuberant trust is one faith mood while Psalm 88’s dark despair is another faith mood. A mood of faith trusts God enough to bring everything about us to Him. In complaint we hide nothing from God because we trust His good heart and because we know He knows our hearts. The biblical genre of complaint expresses frankness about the reality of life that seems inconsistent with the character of God. Complaint is an act of truth-telling faith, not unfaith. Complaint is a rehearsal of the bad allowed by the Good. When we complain, we live in the real world honestly, refusing to ignore what is occurring. Complaint is our expression of our radical trust in God’s reliability in the midst of real life.
18. In your third stage, you trace a process from bargaining to crying out to God. What does that look like in the grieving process?
The typical third stage of the grief journey moves from denial, to anger, and then to bargaining and works. The dying people that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross interviewed entered into spoken and unspoken bargains with God. They believed that God would reward them for their good behavior and grant them special favors. Bargaining attempts to control and manipulate God. That’s why it’s so vital to move from bargaining and works to cry—crying out to God for help.
Cry is a faith-based plea for mobilization in which I humbly ask God for help based upon my admission that I can’t survive without Him. Crying is reaching up with open palms and pleading eyes in the midst of darkness and doubt. Psalm 56:8 teaches that we pray our tears and God collects them in His bottle. Psalm 72:12 assures us, “For he will deliver the needy who cry out” (KJV—when he crieth). Psalm 34 reminds us, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18). Crying empties us so there is more room in us for God. David wept until he had no strength left, but then he found strength in the LORD (1 Samuel 30:6). His cry, his confession of neediness, summoned God into action—supportive action.
Suffering is God’s primary way of uprooting our self-reliance and complacency. He uses suffering to gain our attention. Suffering is a slap in the face, the shock of icy water, a bloodied nose; meant to snatch our attention. Crying out to God is our admission that God has our attention, that God has us.
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