As a hospital chaplain and as a parish pastor, Jeffry Zurheide offers us insights on how to offer care to those who are not only devastated by a tragedy but also are plagued by "why" questions.
Zurheide opens the book by discussing how we enter the lives of those who are suffering. He speaks of some of the typical mistakes of those who are suffering. He speaks of some of the typical mistakes that many of us make and how we can best go about listening and responding to those who are experiencing this double adversity. In chapter 2 he helps us assess what sufferers are wanting when they are asking "Why me?" Sometimes "Why did God allow this to happen to me?" is a poetic question -- a way for people to say that they are in immense pain and need someone to walk the journey with them. At other times the question is, in fact, a serious theological wrestling with the gods into which the pastor is asked to enter. Zurheide helps us to diagnose the real meaning of "why" questions. In chapters 3, 4, and 5 he directly addresses the theological issue of theodicy. He uses the work of Karl Barth to make sense theologically of unmerited suffering. In chapters 6, 7, and 8 he specifically returns to pastoral care and helps the reader offer pastoral care in cases where theodicy is manifested. And finally, in chapter 9 he pleads for mystery. Theodicy's "why" questions ultimately are a mystery -- and mysteries are not to be analyzed away, but approached with reverence.
It is my hope that When Faith is Tested will challenge you, the readers, to look more closely at how you care for those who are suffering and how you respond to the "why" questions they ask. Zurheide in this book has given us one more chance to reflect on the issue of theodicy and he has contributed to our consideration of this mystery.
--Howard W. Stone
From the Editor's Foreword