Friday, November 22, 2013

Walking with God...

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller, available from Dutton at www.penguin.com, includes a wealth of material important to any pastor, or to any kind person who wants to help a friend deal with suffering of one kind or another. Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and he and his family have years of experience in that and other congregations as a kind of preparation for this book. It could be called “How to be a Pastor, 101” and should be required reading for anyone so engaged or interested in preparing for such a future. But there is also much good advice for friends who care for other friends.

If you read it, I think you will find, as I do, that you need to keep it nearby, because you will want to refer to it many times again. “Now what did Tim Keller say about that?” I find myself saying and I have to look it up again. It’s over 350 pages and crammed with concern, ideas, Scripture references, experiences of the Kellers, and personal stories from others who have suffered.

When you come right down to the basic thesis, I think he is saying that the person(s) who love, believe in, and trust  the Lord Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, are really in better shape through any pain and suffering they may experience throughout their lives than are those who do not so believe. He’s probably right and we will be finding out, I’m sure.

Keller divides his book into three parts. In the first part he discusses the problem of evil and how different cultures, religions, times in history have coped with it. This part is more philosophical and Keller invites readers to begin with the second or third part, especially if they are in the midst of difficult trials at the moment they are reading his book.

Part two is descriptive of suffering and how people have coped with it from biblical times to current times. And part three is  practical and provides suggestions and strategies for coping with pain and suffering, ways to walk with God through it all. Some chapters conclude with a story of someone who has done that and their stories are reminders for us to look for God’s presence with us in the midst of suffering. I predict that many of us will be thanking Dr. Keller for his insights and encouragements as we continue our own walking with God.

—Lois Sibley