Augsburg Fortress

When Faith Is Tested: Pastoral Responses to Suffering and Tragic Death

When Faith Is Tested: Pastoral Responses to Suffering and Tragic Death

When a religious caregiver visits a person who is suffering and dying or who is grieving a tragic death, questions arise concerning faith in God's goodness and power.This book deals with the pastor's preparation to deal with personal and cosmic issues of suffering and justice. Zurheide includes suggestions for conducting conversations with the dying.

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$17.99

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800629786
  • eBook ISBN 9781451410921
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 96
  • Publication Date October 3, 1997

Endorsements

"This is one of those rare books for pastors and lay caregivers that engage the reader from the very first page to the last. Jeffry Zurheide provides realistic illustrations of how any caring person may respond thoughtfully and helpfully to the 'Why' questions that tragic deaths inevitably evoke in us. This book also presents a clear theological orientation in which belief in the power of God is not diluted as a means to 'explain' why these things happen but rather affirms the power of God as manifest in the very vulnerability of God. Zurheide's capacity to make this theological position intellectually persuasive and emotionally consoling is, to me, the real strength of this significant new book on an age-old experience whose power to crush the soul is as great today as ever."
—Donald Capps, William Harte Felmeth Professor of Pastoral Theology Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

"This book is a result of Jeffry R. Zurheide's reflections about his own experience of personal loss and the suffering and losses of the many people he has served as a hospital chaplain and as a parish pastor. He shares his insights on how to offer care to those who are not only devastated by a tragedy but also are plagued by 'Why' questions."
—Howard W. Stone, professor emeritus of psychology and pastoral counseling at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

Excerpts

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
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