Book Review: "Embodied Hope"
Do you like to read? I do. I'm a total nerd!
I dream of a home with a real library, with gilded tomes on shelves that reach to the ceiling and can only be accessed by a rolling ladder. ... Or at least a sunny reading nook.
I wait impatiently for summer reading lists to come out each year. (My favorite list comes from WORLD Magazine.)
I re-read favorites and I don't care if that's against the rules. Chris, who loves this about me, gave me digital and audio copies of every Jane Austen book, even though I have paper copies of them already. It takes a nerd to love a nerd, yes?
And, while I have Kindle on my phone for emergencies, I much prefer the weight and feel of paper. I like the musty smell of older books. Plus, I have no qualms about taking a paper book into a hot-tub or poolside where I'd never take an iPad!
Years ago, I felt an inner pull to read less fiction and more non-fiction. Lots of reasons for that and no regrets. I love biographies (Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas is the best so far), missionary stories, and historical novels. But I also love research. Give me a problem to sink my teeth into. Go ahead! I'll go grab 5 books on the subject and dive in.
So, of course, when the permanence of my medical condition hit me, I decided I needed to learn more about suffering with grace. I started with Embodied Hope and moved on from there. I have a list of books to read and process and I thought I'd share them one at a time here, on the blog. I'll start today.
Embodied Hope by Kelly Kapic
To appreciate this book, you need to know the author's background. Kapic is a professor of theology at Covenant College in Georgia. His wife suffers from chronic illness that causes excruciating pain. He has written this book from his perspective as a husband who is watching his loved one suffer greatly.
He addresses the struggle of living in a broken world filled with beauty and pain, love and loss, and all the other frustrating contrasts. Then he explores the strangeness of God, who moves in our broken world to ease our suffering without clearly revealing to us the reasons we are chosen to suffer. Finally, he clearly argues that we are created to suffer together, in community. The book is an invitation into the centuries-long conversation about suffering in our broken world.
"Living within this story means that we strengthen our weakened sisters and brothers by drawing them to and reminding them of the word, presence, and action of the triune God, becoming avenues of God's grace and mercy. Life as God's people thus becomes the environment that sustains and nourishes those who suffer. ... only together can we believe, hope, and love amid our struggles."
It is a dense read which I processed slowly. I appreciated the way Kapic came at the topic from every angle. I saw the importance of Christ's bodily suffering in a new light. And I learned the impact that physical suffering has on our emotions and our faith, a concept I had not thought through before.
"We are multidimensional creatures: when our bodies hurt, we also suffer in our intellect, our emotions, our will, and our souls."
The thing that I appreciated most was that I personally connected with the suffering he describes. I think anyone who suffers chronically would feel the same way. He doesn't separate different types of suffering. He puts them all together and allows the reader to connect in their own unique suffering.
Because of this, the hope that is offered applies to all. His main point is that hope is available to everyone because hope is not a feeling but the person of Jesus Christ. And His presence is a healing salve to those who suffer. He is the answer to all our unanswerable questions.
Kapic comes at this point from personal and theological arguments. He leaves nothing out. It is not a difficult read, yet it is challenging.
He ends the book with some basic ways to approach supporting a suffering friend. But the bulk of the book is focused on getting our minds to think rightly about suffering and the sovereignty of God.
If you are feeling alone in your suffering, or struggling with the questions of, "Why me? ... Why this?" this would be a helpful and encouraging book to read.
If you would like to buy this book, you can find it here. By using this link, I get a few pennies back as an Amazon Affiliate. Thanks.