None of us makes it through life without suffering. None of us escapes physical pain, emotional distress, or spiritual agony. At some times and in some ways, we all suffer. No wonder, then, that so many authors have turned to the subject. As Christians, we are well-served with books to help us suffer well and books that help us grapple with the deeper theological questions that inevitably arise in the midst of our darkness.
New to the market is Dave Furman’s Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials. The title is drawn from a quote generally attributed to Charles Spurgeon: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” Furman explains, “When I am in the midst of suffering, I am doing my best just to keep my head above water as the stormy waves of suffering crash over me. I have often longed to be lifted out of the rough and dark waters that feel as if they are engulfing me. I have spent many long nights despising those waves. I have never thought about kissing them.” What he has come to see, and what he wants the reader to know, is that “God is doing more in our suffering than we can see with our eyes.” Instead of flailing against our suffering, we need to learn to embrace it as a mysterious part of God’s will for us.
Furman does not write this book from an abstract perspective, but a deeply personal one. For many years he has experienced debilitating nerve pain that has left him in constant pain while stealing his ability to carry out many normal functions. Yet while his experience is woven throughout the book, this is in no way a biography. Instead, it is a popular-level theology of suffering. It takes on the big questions and provides answers that, though simple, are satisfying. Why do we suffer? Where is God in our suffering? Would a good God actually permit suffering? Will we suffer forever? He answers these questions and many more.
While he writes as a fellow sufferer, he also writes as a pastor charged with caring for others as they endure trials. He does this well, always remaining clear and winsome. In my assessment, it is the combination of the personal and pastoral that makes this book particularly helpful. It doesn’t go deep into questions of philosophy but rather turns continually to biblical certainty. We may not know why we suffer, but we do know God, and we do have access to his Word, and we find that ultimately he must be our comfort in distress and our answer in uncertainty.
If you are currently going through a time of trial, Kiss the Wave will prove a blessing to you, calling you to endure and persevere to the end. If you are currently not going through a time of trial, Kiss the Wave will equally prove a blessing to you as it will arm you for the inevitable and equip you to help others. Whatever the case, I gladly commend it to you.