Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain (book review)

I’ve been a fan of Dr. Paul Meier for quite some time, and his latest book—co-authored with Dr. David Henderson—kept me cheering. Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain explores seven areas that prompt some of the deepest soul-searching and some of the stickiest questions that humans face.

There are a couple of things I admire about Drs. Meier and Henderson. One is their understanding that humans are a tri-part being: body, soul, and spirit. Those that try to bring help for the deep pain that we all experience by addressing just one area are missing the mark. There is physical pain, emotional pain, and spiritual pain.

I’ve often found that humanists who just want to address the physical and emotional symptoms, but ignore the spiritual symptoms, offer only short-sighted answers. On the other extreme, some in the church world want to offer spiritual solutions for everything, and completely ignore the physical and emotional causes. Either extreme is unhelpful to someone who is hurting. Drs. Meier and Henderson do an excellent job addressing all three areas.

The other thing I’ve always appreciated about Dr. Meier, and now his new coauthor as well, is his accessible writing style. In other words, although these are incredibly well-educated men, they write in a way that everyone can understand. And more importantly, their writing style allows for ready application.

This book is divided into seven sections of four chapters each. Each section diagnosis an area of pain, looks at the causes, explores the possible responses, and ultimately uncovers the purpose beyond the pain. In every section, the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions are addressed. These sections cover the most common pain-filled struggles we all face:

  • Injustice
  • Rejection
  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Discipline
  • Failure
  • Death

As a pastor, I have to deal with people who are experiencing past or present pain quite frequently. This book has enlightened me in some biblically-rooted, practical ways I can point to the purpose beyond their pain. But even if you are not a pastor or counselor, this book will be a great resource to have on your shelf. Whether you have lingering questions about the pain you have experienced, or you simply want to be ready to help a friend or loved one who may be battling one of these areas, you will appreciate Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain.

I am a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson.

One Response to “Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain (book review)”

  1. Ron Krumpos Says:

    I thank my friend Nugroho Agnkasa on for this:

    The Tea Cup Story: Letting life shape us

    You will never look at a tea cup the same way again after you read this story:

    A couple who took a trip and were shopping in a beautiful antique store to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery, and especially tea cups. Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked “May we see that? We’ve never seen a cup quite so beautiful.”

    As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the tea cup spoke, “You don’t understand. I have not always been a tea cup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me, pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, “Don’t do that.”

    “I don’t like it!” “Let me alone,” but he only smiled, and gently said; “Not yet!”

    Then WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. “Stop it! I’m getting so dizzy! I’m going to be sick!” I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, quietly; “Not yet.”

    He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. “Help! Get me out of here!” I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head from side to side, “Not yet”.

    When I thought I couldn’t bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! “Ah, this is much better,” I thought.

    But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. “Oh, please, Stop it, Stop!”, I cried. He only shook his head and said. “Not yet!”

    Then suddenly he put me back in to the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited and waited, wondering “What’s he going to do to me next?”

    An hour later he handed me a mirror and said ‘Look at yourself.’ And I did. I said, “That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful!!”

    Quietly he spoke: ‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, “I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.

    I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life.

    If I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”



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