Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me the book Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain by Paul Meier and David Henderson for review purposes. I actually received this book about a month before my dad died. It has taken me awhile to read it because I haven’t felt like reading books with weighty themes lately. However, I specifically chose this book to review because I was interested to see what the authors had to say about pain and its influence on our lives.
The authors, both psychiatrists, divided the book into seven sections, detailing what they deem to be the “seven universal struggles”: injustice, rejection, loneliness, loss, discipline, failure, and death. I had never thought about subdividing pain into specific categories, but those headings seem to be pretty all-encompassing. On the one hand, a reader looking for answers about a specific life circumstance could readily turn to the section that most applied to him or her. Conversely, a book divided into seven situation-specific categories gives a broad summation of the subject rather than a detailed treatise.
The authors use anecdotes from their own psychiatric practices and biblical examples throughout the book to serve as examples. The book gives sound, grounded advice, but again, it was written in very general terms. Rather than gleaning new insight or different ideas from this book I was reminded of the sound truth that comes from the foundation of my faith. It isn’t harmful to be reminded of what I know but don’t always put into practice; however, I was hoping for a different perspective and deeper discussion.
This book would be helpful for anyone looking for a general overview of pain. Someone who wants a quick answer about a specific painful circumstance would also appreciate this book. For those looking for a more detailed examination, Randy Alcorn’s If God is Good is more research-driven and weightier. Certainly, anyone wrestling with this subject would also be advised to read C.S. Lewis’s classics The Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed. I think I’ll be revisiting those books in the next few months.