Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 07/19/2010 by Mark Tubbs.
Recommended. A brief but effective biblical theology of suffering doubling as a companion through the journey of suffering.
Let's cut to the chase: why another book on suffering? What more can possibly said on the subject when so many writers throughout Christian history, not to mention Scripture itself, seem to have exhausted the topic? Well, author Robert Kellemen doesn't think everything has been said – at least not in a relevant and biblical twenty-first century way. Having read God's Healing for Life's Losses, I can attest that Kellemen's contribution to Christian literature on suffering is both fresh and needed.
Kellemen is relentless about representing suffering as restorative and redemptive, not as a virtuous end in itself, but as a device God uses to draw the sufferer to (or back to) Himself. In some pastors' hands, these truths come across cold and unfeeling; not so with Kellemen. This book, though brief, never condescends to triteness or cliché. Moreover, Kellemen possesses a fully developed biblical theology of suffering: "Bob’s goal is not to give us a few verses that we simply memorize and recite when times get rough" (from Dr. Steve Viars' foreword).
Through God's Healing for Life's Losses, I invite you to walk with God and God's people. At the end of chapters two through nine, you'll find two built-in "Grief and Growth Workbooks." In the first, you'll be able to trace your journey, and in the second, you’ll be able to journal about your healing process.
While you can read and apply God's Healing for Life's Losses alone, I’ve also designed it for group use. Consider gathering with some other spiritual friends to share your progress along your journey...
Let me go on record as generally skeptical about the value of most Christian study guides and workbooks. Not so with Kellemen's carefully thought out chapter-ending workbooks. Although I intended to merely skim the questions in the workbooks, I found myself working through a few of them, which is a testimony to how well the questions were sequenced and composed.
Halfway through chapter five I began to ask, "Bob (because we're friends), where are your application points?" As chapters six, seven and eight unfolded, I began to see clearly just how carefully Kellemen developed the pacing of this book. The process of grieving and healing cannot be rushed, which is reflected in the conscientious way that Kellemen leads the reader through the various stages of grief.
Kellemen's representation of the stages in the grieving process also bears mention. As anyone who knows him will attest, Kellemen is irenic at heart. Not only will this book resound with Christians of all stripes (provided the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is scripturally understood), Kellemen doesn't simply dismiss the world's way of understanding grief with a sneer and a casual wave of the hand. He acknowledges that secular literature on grief describes the process the best it can. He then points out where the Christian understanding of healing from hurts picks up where the worldly understanding of grief leaves off.
So much more could be said about this book and so much could be quoted from it, but I leave it up to the reader to order a copy and delve in. Or order two copies and involve a friend in the process. Pastors, counselors, and small group leaders, this book is bound to be a source of hope for those under your care who are grieving. Not only that, but it commends itself as a teaching tool in preparing Christians to suffer in a God-honoring, biblical way.