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Walking with God through Pain and Suffering Hardcover – 10 Oct 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (10 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444750232
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444750232
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 3.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians. (Christianity Today magazine)

Tim Keller's ministry in New York City is leading a generation of seekers and skeptics toward belief in God. I thank God for him. (Billy Graham)

He has left no theological, philosophical, or personal stone unturned. The book is incredibly well researched, weaving timeless scriptures between salient observations of everyone from Camus to New York Times columnists. (Joni Eareckson Tada The Gospel Coalition)

This is undoubtedly one of the most helpful books I have read on the subject of pain and suffering. I say that as a pastor who would recommend this book to other pastors ... Overall, anyone would benefit from reading this. You could give it to a thinking agnostic friend, and there is much to gain yourself. It did me and out grieving family no end of good. (Pastor Matt Fuller Evangelicals Now)

his intelligent analysis is nevertheless noteworthy. He stands in the shoes of his readers, facing squarely up to the issues - and, above all, the ideas - that they are likely to meet in their everyday sophisticated lives. The book is directed at the new type of urban Christian, the kind of people who attend his church in Manhattan and who are drawn there in large numbers. This is a handsome book. It is beautifully presented, and would grace any bookshelf or coffee table, not as an adornment, but as the object of serious study for a Biblical Christian. It is a book that such loyal believers would be proud to be seen reading. (Lavinia Bryne Church Times)

Book Description

Acclaimed writer and pastor Timothy Keller grapples with the age-old question: how do we deal with pain and suffering, both in our own lives and in the world around us?

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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I am relatively new to the Christian faith and don't usually read books as "academic" as this, so this book was on my bookshelf for a few months before I could start reading it from cover to cover. Read the introduction. It helpfully explains that the author has set the book out in three sections - the first is a philosophical analysis of the approach different religions and cultures take to suffering, and why Christians bear suffering better than those of any other faith and philosophy, using examples such as the Stoics, Buddhists, Western secular society, etc. Unlike Stoics and Buddhists, who mitigate suffering by detachment from the world, Christians suffer better not because they love the world less, but because they love God more - God is with them in their suffering. His comments on Luther's view of suffering were most helpful.
The second part of the book moves from the philosophical to the personal, through examples from the Bible and the third section provides the most practical material. I have yet to read these two sections. Keller says that if you are in the midst of adversity, you may want to read the second and third sections first.
The central metaphor for all three sections is that of the Fiery Furnace, a place where, with skill, matter is refined and made more beautiful and useful, and also, in the Bible, a place where the Son of God was present along with the three men.
The book is academic in format, uses material from a wide range of authors and philosophers as well as from the Bible, and is well-referenced with excellent footnotes BUT at the end of most chapters there is a real life story. These stories, like colourful illustrations, speak directly and almost miraculously of God's presence in the midst of suffering.
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Tim Keller has written lots of excellent books, the best of which I think is "The Reason for God" which is the main book I give to non Christian friends who are interested in finding out more about the Christian faith. While this book on suffering is of course written using Christian arguments based on the bible, it is extremely accessible for anyone of any belief or none.Keller looks at a wide range of views on suffering and how to deal with it, starting from ancient Greek philosophers and ending up with modern secularists.

I realize that the question of suffering for some of us is not an academic issue but an intensely painful and hurtful, even overpowering reality. If you are suffering, Christian or not but interested in learning more about the Christian approach to suffering, this is the book for you. Its also written in a very sympathetic and compassionate way. This is a topic to be approached with the greatest sensitivity and kindness.

Keller's book looks at "Why do we suffer?" and then "What should we do when we are suffering?" The book splits into two parts, the longer first addressing the first question and the shorter and particularly strong second half looking at what we should do as Christians when in "the furnace." The furnace comes from the story some of us may remember from Sunday school of three men in ancient Babylon, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego. Its in the book of Daniel. They were thrown into the furnace for refusing to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's idol. In the fire Nebuchadnezzar is amazed to see that they have been joined by a fourth person, whom Christians believe was the pre incarnate Jesus Christ. They come out unhurt. But Keller points out that very often Christians don't get rescued from "the furnace.
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In the last four years, there are many books I have read all the way through. But this past Sunday May 11th marks one of the only times that I have read through a book twice. That book is Walking With God Through Pain And Suffering by Timothy Keller.

The first time I read it, I started on October 16, 2013 and finished on November 15. It impacted me so profoundly, I knew I had to pick it up again soon. The second time, I read more slowly, starting on February 6th, 2014 and finishing on May 11.It is simply a wonderful book. The whole idea behind it is, everyone suffers. As Keller says, “No one is immune.” Therefore, it is important to know a thing or two about pain and suffering.

In the book, Tim Keller offers a helpful survey of different cultural and religious approaches to suffering—and how, interestingly, secular Western culture is perhaps the weakest in providing resources for its sufferers. He then addresses each view of suffering in light of the very nuanced Biblical approach—an approach that turns out to capture the strengths of the many cultural approaches to suffering, while also performing strongly in the areas where the other approaches are weak.

Keller closes with a set of chapters on how to get through suffering in everyday life in light of what the Bible offers. This section is probably the one I will most often return to. Keller is a Christian minister of many decades of pastoring and much wisdom, and it is here where his pastoral sensibilities shine in a special way. He offers a sensitive and well-written series of practices and disciplines such as Hoping, Praying, Weeping, and Trusting that overlap and inter-penetrate one another to form a strong, true-to-human-complexity approach to dealing with suffering.
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