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Book Review: Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain

Monday, January 30, 2012

purposeBy Paul Meier, MD and David L. Henderson, MD
Nashville, 2009, Nashville
Number of pages: 278

This is one of those books that I read too late in life. I wish I read this book when I was, like, twelve. You read this book and feel like it contains the secrets to the Universe. Simple. Profound. And not nearly as cliché as the previous sentences I've written.
"What if, instead of chasing after a pain-free life, we realized that pain is not the enemy? In fact, pain can be our ally if we allow it to lead us away from danger and toward the healing power of Christ," write the authors. What a concept. We spend so much time chasing happiness and trying to avoid pain that it takes most of a lifetime to learn that pain is the first step to healing. In fact, healing can't happen without pain.
There are three reasons why we miss the lessons that come from pain:
  • we focus on our circumstances instead of God
  • we have more fear of pain than we have fear of God
  • we forget how faithful God has been in the past
"Comparing our circumstances to others' and calling it injustice will not bring relief from pain. It only makes it worse," the authors write. So true. This is the story of my life. I get so wrapped up in how the other guy is lucky or promoted or better looking or at the front of the lunch line that it weighs me down, causes exhausting mental gymnastics, and fills me with hate. It's like pain with compound interest. Quite a waste of time.
Not only is there purpose beyond our pain, but there is purpose beyond your injustices. The authors list five:
  • Remember your status.
  • Always give thanks.
  • What you see is not all you get.
  • Justice deferred is not justice denied.
  • Keep a record of rights.
These points sound biblical? They are. As you read them in the book, the authors develop these thoughts practically and reference them scripturally.
The book is organized into seven parts exploring these concepts:
  • Injustice
  • Rejection
  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Discipline
  • Failure
  • Death
The Meier and Henderson, as educated and experienced as they are compared to us commoners, write in a way that's accessible and completely understandable. You don't have to have a PhD to hang with these MDs. As I re-read areas of this book for this review, I became very aware of my desire to read the book again. I think it will serve as a great reference and I'll need to resist the temptation to loan it out knowing how helpful it will be.
So don't ask. Here's a link to purchase your own copy.

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