On October 2, a long line formed outside of the W83 Ministry Center that prompted curious neighbors to inquire whether a rock concert was taking place. “No, it’s something better! It’s a talk on pain and suffering. We have an extra ticket, would you like to come in with us?” Some people ended up attending this event serendipitously while others signed up way in advance and were so excited that their friends (who had never agreed to come to anything with them before) finally said yes to something. The overwhelming response to this event was probably because everyone experiences suffering. Many people want to know why there is so much pain and suffering and how to handle it in a way that will lead to strength and wisdom.
Redeemer’s mercy ministries, the Diaconate, Counseling Services and Hope for New York, were glad to cosponsor the evening with Tim and Kathy Keller and friends on “Walking with God through Pain and Suffering.” More than 850 attendees came and about 30 to 35% of them were first time attendees to a Redeemer event. We took a survey that evening, and of all the responses, 37% were going through hardship, 39% were caring for someone going through hardship, and 24% wanted to hear Tim’s talk on suffering. The top three categories of suffering were: relationship issues (33%), loss of a loved one (24%) and employment issues (13%).
Tim highlighted the importance of weeping, trusting, praying, reordering our loves and hoping in the midst of pain (a recording of his talk is available on http://www.redeemer.com/painandsufferingevent). Eager to provide additional resources and a more in depth study, the Diaconate, Counseling and HFNY gave a complimentary copy of Tim’s latest book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering to every event attendee. Joni Eareckson Tada, an evangelical Christian author and speaker who is well acquainted with suffering because of a teenage accident that left her a quadriplegic, believes Tim’s book on suffering “may be the most comprehensive contemporary book on the subject.” It has debuted at #18 on The New York Times bestseller list.
Kathy led an amazing panel composed of four Christians with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, ages and genders. All of them gave extraordinarily vulnerable and moving testimonies. Their stories of suffering established that suffering does not discriminate; however their faith journeys confirmed that God also does not discriminate in sending us help because of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. What a glorious comfort and hope!