by Dr. Robert Kellemen
I don’t need this book. Sure, I may need its message one day: if/when I lose my husband or a child or my home or my health. But I’m not in a place of suffering a deep loss in my life right now. This book is for someone else.
Those were my thoughts before reading God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting by Dr. Robert Kellemen. When I began reading, however, I discovered a book whose message is more than just how to find healing after a loss; it’s about journeying with God through life in this broken, sin-filled world. This book is designed to open our eyes to see God’s process in our pain, to encourage us to suffer “face-to-face” with God rather than turn our backs and attempt to be self-sufficient.
Dr. Kellemen shares intimate details from his own time of suffering following the death of his father. He is careful to avoid Christian clichés. His writing is honest and personal. He does not downplay pain or suffering, rather he encourages the reader to enter grief, to experience the wide range of emotions that accompany pain, disappointment, depression, etc., and find God in the midst of it all.
Rather than follow what secular researchers tell us is the accepted grief process (denial, anger, bargaining, and depression), Dr. Kellemen explains,
These proposed stages in the grief process seek to track typical grief responses. However, they do not attempt to assess whether this is what is best to occur. Nor could they assess, simply through scientific research, whether these responses correspond to God’s process for hurting (grieving) and hoping (growing)…At best, it describes what typically occurs. It cannot, with assurance and authority, prescribe what should occur.
Though he emphasizes that the process is non-linear and messy, Dr. Kellemen identifies eight scriptural “stages” to help guide the hurting along the path to hope. He provides a unique and biblical approach to grieving and growing.
While theologians cover all sorts of theological topics, such as “Christology” for the study of Christ, and “anthropology” for the study of human beings, you won’t actually find a “sufferology” – a biblical theology of suffering – in theology text books.
Dr. Kellemen’s eight stages of grief and growth are:
Candor: Honesty with Myself
Complaint: Honesty with God
Cry: Asking God for help
Comfort: Receiving God’s Help
Waiting: Trusting with Faith
Wailing: Groaning with Hope
Weaving: Perceiving with Grace
Worshiping: Engaging with Love
Each chapter ends with a section Dr. Kellemen calls the “growth workbook,” in which he uses thoughtful questions to encourage the reader to think deeply, search feelings, meditate on scripture, and express oneself on paper and/or to a trusted friend. The growth workbook makes the book adaptable for one-on-one ministry or small group use.
One of the goals of this book is to release the feelings that are stuffed deep inside, to face feelings and painful memories that we try to avoid (by staying busy), and come to a place of honesty with God and ourselves. Sometimes all we need is permission to let ourselves feel our feelings; I appreciate the way Dr. Kellemen does this. I thought I’d be reading this book with someone else in mind, but I was drawn in by Dr. Kellemen’s engaging style and honesty. Before I knew it, forgotten hurts (forgotten because I mistakenly believed they didn’t matter) came to mind and I was using the journaling sections, moving through my own growth journey. I was reminded that all pain matters to God; He uses all things to complete His transformational work in us. Kellemen does not guarantee that we will find relief, but he does promise that we will find God. He offers the sufferer real hope that is only found in Jesus Christ.
This book surprised me. It’s small, but more helpful than most books on grief that are twice its size. In fact, its size makes it ideal for giving. Pastors, counselors, and those who often find themselves in a position to comfort others in pain, will want to use this book as a resource and as a gift for those who are hurting.
***Dr. Kellemen is giving away 12 copies of this book. Simply leaving a comment here will enter your name in his drawing.***