This is not your typical Christian spirituality/memoir book. Chin is extremely honest about his own feelings. That was something that I found both refreshing and disturbing.
Chin recounts his own year and a half of suffering. His wife had a miscarriage. He took his family to Washington, DC to start a church. They bought a house in a tough neighborhood. When they went to move in, they found squatters had taken sinks, the garbage disposal, had ruined carpets, and more. Later they experienced burglaries. And then his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. One more blow was their insurance company denying coverage, claiming a break in their coverage. Chin was finally able to provide the documentation that proved the insurance company wrong and coverage was restored, but he was furious. He shares his anger, his mouthing off.
The anger expanded to God. Here he was, a church planter, sacrificing and trying to be the best he could be for God, yet look what happened. God was supposed to protect them and be there when they needed Him. He wore a mask while pastoring, hiding his anger, proclaiming his trust in God, lying through his teeth.
He hit bottom and finally came to the point of crying out to God in all his pain and with total honesty. He realized life was hard and unfair and faith shows its true power and full worth in such moments. He also realized his wife was the bravest person he knew. As events progressed, he admits he was clueless as to what God was doing, yet he was not as hopeless as he had been. Through his experience of suffering, Chin reveals, he finally understood the cross.
This book is heavy on Chin's personal experiences and feelings of turmoil. He describes himself as, “not the most emotionally resilient person in the world, and very prone to discouragement.” He relates his own tiredness and fatigue and his own suffering. It just felt a little strange reading about all of that when it was his wife who had the miscarriage and the cancer.
The strength of this book is its personal account of coming to the knowledge that God is with us in the midst of pain. God allows suffering, Chin writes, because in His wisdom, He knows it is somehow necessary and even beneficial. Our inability to make sense of suffering is caused by a gross misunderstanding of the identity of God. God is mysterious and wild but also loving and good. Suffering and love are not mutually exclusive.
I would recommend this book to men, to get a man's view of experiencing his wife's cancer. I was disappointed that Chin was much more vocal about his own suffering than he was about his wife's.
Food for thought: “You see, you cannot truly understand the gospel and the depth of God's love unless you understand suffering.”
Peter Chin attended Yale University and Fuller Seminary. He planted churches in Los Angeles, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Seattle, where he now serves as lead pastor of Rainier Avenue Church. You can find out more at www.peterwchin.com.
Bethany Fellowship, 240 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.