Monday, July 25, 2016

When There Are No Easy Answers by John S. Feinberg

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Feinberg is an academic and had intellectually studied the problem of evil. Then his wife was diagnosed with Huntington's chorea. In shock, surprise, and pain, he found his intellectual work was of no comfort. What he shares here is his personal story of how he came to still love and serve the God who allows the suffering.

We would like to think that if we are really trying to seek God's will and be obedient, evil will not befall us. When it does, we wonder if we really want to still worship a God who rewards faithfulness with severe affliction. (17) A crisis of faith often results.

That is the kind of raw honesty with which Feinberg writes. He shares the stages he went through after his wife's diagnosis. I was interested to read that he realized intellectual answers were of little value for him. This was an emotional problem. A personal experience of affliction, he says, requires pastoral care, not an intellectual discussion.

The issue, Feiberg writes, is how to live with a God who doesn't prevent or stop the suffering. In helping others live with this reality, he gives good suggestions on what not to say. He lets us know what helped him, such as others allowing him to talk and really listening to him.

He honestly attacks questions like why some Christians have to suffer so much and others do not. He reveals the error of our expecting God to treat everyone the same, extending the grace of pain free living to all instead of just some. He does explain that affliction is part of living in a sinful world and that the more we follow God, the more we can expect attacks from Satan.

I recommend this book to those who minister to the afflicted. You won't find any cold intellectual writing about why Christians suffer. You will find an honest account of how one man came to grips with his relationship to God in the midst of affliction. You will receive some good insight into what the afflicted need in the way of ministry. You will also have some good information with which you can think and talk about God and suffering, as an Appendix includes several goals God may want to accomplish in the suffering.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

John S. Feinberg is professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has also been a pastor, a staff member for Chosen People Ministries, and has taught at Western Seminary and Liberty University.

Kregel, 160 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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