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:
19. In your fourth stage, you discuss moving from depression to comfort. What is comfort and what is God’s role in that process and what is our role?
In stage four, our journey leads us either to depression due to alienation and separation from God and others, or to finding comfort through communion with God and connection with God’s people. For those who do not turn to Christ, the grief process moves from denial, to anger, to bargaining/works, and then to depression. For those who cling to Christ, for those who grieve with hope, the journey moves from candor, to complaint/lament, to crying out to God, and then to comfort. Comfort experiences the presence of God in the presence of suffering—a presence that empowers me to survive scars and plants the seed of hope that I will yet thrive. At the end of sustaining, I’m not necessarily thriving. More likely, I’m limping, but at least I’m no longer retreating.
Jacob’s wrestling match with God certainly illustrates comfort. Recall the context. Jacob is terrified that his brother Esau will kill him. In self-sufficiency, Jacob plans and plots ways to manipulate Esau into forgiving him. Then, at night Jacob encounters God. He wrestles God throughout the night until God overpowers Jacob by dislocating his hip. In response, “Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face-to-face, and yet my life was spared’” (Genesis 32:30).
Jacob shows us that tenacious wrestling with God results in painful yet profitable comfort through communion. As the sun rose, Jacob was limping. He looks up and there’s Esau. Jacob limps up to Esau and, with the pain of his dislocated hip, bows down to the ground seven times. Imagine the excruciating pain. Each time he bows down pain shoots through his crippled body. Then Jacob receives from Esau an embrace instead of a dagger. He faced his fear, still wounded and scarred, but surviving. God humbled Jacob, weakened him, and in the process strengthened him.
20. In your fifth stage, you talk about waiting on God. That can be excruciating. What is that process like and how can it lead to growth while grieving?
Think about the fifth and final phase in the world’s grieving process: acceptance. The goal is to face calmly the finality of loss. If it is one’s own impending death, then it’s a time of quiet resignation. If it is the loss of a loved one, or a relationship, or a job, then it’s a time of regrouping. “Life has to go on, somehow. How? What’s next?” You’re in a casket. Finally, you’ve come face-to-face with death and with utter human hopelessness. Do you want to stay there? No! Frantic to escape? Yes! You cry out to God for help. What’s He say? “Wait.” Now you’re at a faith-point. “I trust Him; I trust Him not. I’ll wait; I’ll not wait.” Which will it be? Will you wait or regroup? Will you wait on God or will you self-sufficiently depend upon yourself?
Hope waits. Hope is the refusal to demand heaven now. Waiting is trusting God’s future provision without working to provide for myself. Waiting is refusing to take over while refusing to give up. Waiting refuses self-rescue. In waiting, we cling to God’s rope of hope, even when we can’t see it. In biblical waiting, we neither numb our longings nor illegitimately fulfill them.
Faith looks back to the past recalling God’s mighty works saying, “He did it that time; He can do it now.” Hope looks ahead remembering God’s coming reward saying, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:18-19, emphasis added). In the context of grief, waiting through delayed gratification says, “I want to feel better. I wish things were the way they once were. But I trust God’s good heart. I know one day He will wipe away all tears. I know today He has good plans for my life ahead.” Instead of viewing God as our Genie in a bottle or as our Butler at our beck and call, we yield to, trust in, and wait upon God as our Father of holy love.
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
Buy the Book on Sale at 33% Off
3 John 8