Synopses & Reviews
New York Times bestselling author Timothy Kellerwhose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readersexplores one of the most difficult questions we must answer in our lives: Why is there pain and suffering?
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is the definitive Christian book on why bad things happen and how we should respond to them. The question of why there is pain and suffering in the world has confounded every generation; yet there has not been a major book from a Christian perspective exploring why they exist for many years.
The two classics in this area are When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, which was published more than thirty years ago, and C. S. Lewiss The Problem of Pain, published more than seventy years ago. The great secular book on the subject, Elisabeth Ku¨bler-Rosss On Death and Dying, was first published in 1969. Its time for a new understanding and perspective, and who better to tackle this complex subject than Timothy Keller?
As the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Timothy Keller is known for the unique insights he shares, and his series of books has guided countless readers in their spiritual journeys. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering will bring a much-needed, fresh viewpoint on this important issue.
Praise for Timothy Keller and his other books:
"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
“Unlike most suburban megachurches, much of Redeemer is remarkably traditional. What is not traditional is Dr. Kellers skill in speaking the language of his urbane audience…Observing Dr. Kellers professorial pose on stage, it is easy to understand his appeal.” - The New York Times
“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
“With intellectual, brimstone-free sermons that manage to cite Woody Allen alongside Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Keller draws some 5,000 young followers every Sunday. Church leaders see him as a model of how to evangelize urban centers across the country, and Keller has helped ‘plant 50 gospel-based Christian churches around New York plus another 50 from San Francisco to London.” - New York Magazine
“This is the book I give to all my friends who are serious spiritual seekers or skeptics.” - Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, on The Reason for God
“Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Written for skeptics and the believers who love them, the book draws on the author's encounters as founding pastor of New York's booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church…[The Reason for God] should serve both as testimony to the author's encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to reevaluate what they believe, and why.” - Publishers Weekly on The Reason for God
“World has briefly reviewed about 200 books over the past year. Many stand out, but one in particular is likely to change many lives and ways of thinking. Worlds Book of the Year is Tim Kellers The Reason for God. ” - Marvin Olasky on The Reason for God
“Its a great resource to equip you to speak with your secular friends; to show them why the Christian understanding of marriage is not only a tremendous blessing, its the only one that works.” - ChristianPost.com on The Meaning of Marriage
“The Meaning of Marriage is incredibly rich with wisdom and insight that will leave the reader, whether single or married, feeling uplifted. While the book is filled with expertly selected biblical verses, nonreligious readers willing to ‘try on these observations may find answers not only to the meaning of marriage but to that even bigger question—the meaning of life itself.” - The Washington Times on The Meaning of Marriage
“Theologically rich and philosophically informed, yet accessible and filled with practical wisdom.” - Cardus on Every Good Endeavor
“This book is for us all and through its reading it can change and reshape your entire outlook on your life.” - SarahMac on Every Good Endeavor
Praise for Walking with God through Pain and Suffering
“It has something for everyone—something for the agnostic (Keller makes a strong argument that there are no true atheists); something for the philosopher (although he invites the wounded reader to skip that section); and something for the believer being beckoned into the inner sanctum of sharing in the fellowship of Christs sufferings (a place no one naturally wants to go).” - The Gospel Coalition
"It is a resource that takes a multidimensional approach to suffering - tackling the internal and external realities - and takes us deep theologically and practically." - Vertical Living Ministries
"A luminous and ultimately hopeful examination of the many aspects of suffering." - Booklist
In the Preface to this 20th anniversary edition of his bestselling book, Rabbi Kushner relates the heartwarming responses he has received over the last two decades from people who have found inspiration and comfort within the pages of this classic book.
About the Author
TIMOTHY KELLER was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. He was first a pastor in Hopewell, Virginia. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has more than five thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start nearly two hundred churches around the world. Also the author of Every Good Endeavor, The Meaning of Marriage, Jesus the King, Generous Justice, Counterfeit Gods, The Prodigal God, The Reason for God, and the Encounters with Jesus eSeries, Timothy Keller lives in New York City with his family.
Reading Group Guide
1. What is wrong, according to Kushner, with the quotations from the Bible on page 12? Such teachings tell us that God is in control and makes things happen for a reason; why does Kushner disagree with the perspective they express?
2. What does Kushner mean when he says, “Chaos is evil” [p. 61]?
3. Throughout the book, Kushner emphasizes the role of community in bringing people through their worst pain and grief. He mentions Jewish traditions like the meal of replenishment and the recitation of the Mourners Kaddish [p. 133], which shift the focus away from grief and death and back to life. Why is this idea so important, and why is it so often overlooked by people who are suffering from a loss?
4. What is the main message of the prayer written by Jack Riemer [pp. 130-31]? How does it differ from the kinds of prayers people often pray, like asking God for acceptance to a certain college or asking for a relative to get well? How is it similar to or different from the prayer of Jacob, discussed on pages 136-37?
5. Do the ideas expressed in When Bad Things Happen to Good People apply equally well to private and public tragedy—say, one persons death from cancer as opposed to the massive loss of life that took place on September 11, 2001, or the devastation of the 2003 earthquake in Iran? How might these ideas affect a readers moral understanding of historys worst events?
6. Why is the story of Job so important to this book? What insight does Kushner bring to the story?
7. Kushner writes, “I no longer hold God responsible for illnesses, accidents, and natural disasters, because I realize that I gain little and I lose so much when I blame God for those things” [p. 147]. Does it make sense that God is not an active agent in human misfortune? Why do most people think that God is responsible for the bad things that happen to us?
8. The idea that suffering has no meaning is “the most significant challenge that can be offered to the point of view I have been advocating in this book” [p. 148]. How does Kushner come to terms with this problem?
9. What is the wisdom in Kushners suggestion that we should always focus on looking forward, asking ourselves, “Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?” [p. 149]
10. Kushner writes, “There is a crucial difference between denying the tragedy, insisting that everything is for the best, and seeing the tragedy in the context of a whole life, keeping ones eye and mind on what has enriched you and not only on what you have lost” [p. 153]. Why is this shift in perspective so important?
11. “The facts of life and death are neutral. We, by our responses, give suffering either a positive or a negative meaning” [p. 151]. How central is this statement to the books overall argument?
12. Kushner says that he would give up all of the wisdom and sensitivity that he gained through his own suffering in order to be “the father of a bright, happy boy” [p. 147]. If Kushners son had lived, it is unlikely he would have written this book. Kushner argues that suffering is not ennobling, yet his readers might argue that in his case it was. What is the creative potential of tragic experience?
13. If you could summarize in a sentence or two how this book has changed your perspective on the most difficult problems you face, what would you say? What inspiration does the book offer for you?
When Harold Kushners three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and that he would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of lifes most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People
is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow.
Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader.