Suffering and the Heart of God by Langberg“I think a look at suffering humanity would lead to the realization that trauma is perhaps the greatest mission field of the twenty-first century.”

“As the people of God we have been called in any ways to serve as the rescue workers of this world. We are invited into the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. That means we are called into the place of darkness and death because that is where he went.”

In .41 second Google will bring up over 201 million search results for the word suffering. At every moment of the day there are thousands and thousands of people suffering all around the world. While one person is experiencing a high moment in their life there are thousands of others experiencing deep and painful suffering at the same time.

We cannot avoid suffering in our own lives. Pretending, as some religions teach, that is does not exist is no help. In a world full of sin it is only a matter of time before a person experiences suffering. When we do experience it we need ways to deal with it from people who are capable of helping us.

Bringing understanding about and the healing only Christ can offer to victims of suffering and trauma Diane Langberg has written Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores (New Growth Press, 2015). Langberg has counseled trauma victims the world over for over forty years and works with a team of experienced counselors across numerous fields to help hurting people.

There are three reasons why Langberg’s book is a must read for all professional and church counselors. First, Langberg’s forty years of trauma counseling gives her a unique perspective and vast amounts of knowledge, wisdom and skill in working with trauma victims. Her experience with a variety of trauma situations has given her a picture of the evil that suffering brings into peoples lives. From dealing with domestic abuse in the US to helping the victims of the Rwanda genocide, she has an authority like very few others in her field.

As a result of her vast experiences, Langberg is able to present the reader with a picture of the suffering in trauma from a multitude of angels. Langberg covers everything from the psychology of suffering, the spiritual effects of suffering, living day to day with suffering, grief, the church and abuse, domestic violence, and even the role shame plays in trauma. This books is a chance to sit at the foot of a uniquely qualified counselor.

The second reason this book is so good is because of Langberg’s ability to apply the gospel to victims of trauma. Central to the hope she offers in her counseling is the reality and power of the resurrection of Christ. The suffering that trauma can take people into the pits of despair. It can take them to the grave. Jesus went to the grave Himself because of and for our sin and the sin of others. He rose out of the grave to new life and that resurrection life is available to us; to those who are suffering and experiencing trauma. When all seems lost as a result of our suffering we can be found in Christ because of His suffering.

The final reason this book is a must read is because Langberg of the challenge it is to those who are counseling victims of trauma. The primary reason, she argues, that we avoid dealing with suffering is because of our own egocentrism. Not only do we want to avoid experiencing suffering in our own lives but we want to avoid it in the lives of others. We don’t want to touch the suffering of others or be touched by it. We want to distance ourselves from the sin that causes the suffering in the lives of others but in doing so we forget that it effects us as well. Langberg writes

We are not healthy doctors working with sickness. We are sick doctors who are trying to grasp the nature and impact of a life-threatening disease that has invaded our own souls, minds, and hearts. Whatever this disease has done to our so-called patients, it has done or can do to us. (30)

Christ was not egocentric when it came to the suffering of humanity. The Son of God emptied Himself of the position He had at the right hand of the Father and took on human sinful flesh in order to redeem us from its weaknesses that our sin brought on in order to bring us back to the Father with Him. This is how we are to follow Christ when it comes to helping others with their suffering. We walk and live among the dead because that is what Jesus did for us. We offer the hope of the resurrection to the dead because that is Jesus did for us. We realize that as ministers of this resurrection hope we are as much in need of it as those to whom we offer it to in the name of Christ.

Suffering and the Heart of God is an amazing book that will give readers much to chew on with regard to suffering, its victims, and the hope of the gospel. Part of the power of her approach is that she is not writing from a merely academic perspective. This is not a clinical textbook with pat and stock observations and answers. This is a book borne out of lived experience with suffering in her own life and the life of others.

This is a book that proclaims the superior healing power of the gospel over the power suffering can have in our lives.

I received this book for free from New Growth Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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