Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in ChristISBN: 9781587433580
At the age of thirty-nine, Christian theologian Todd Billings was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer. In the wake of that diagnosis, he began grappling with the hard theological questions we face in the midst of crisis: Why me? Why now? Where is God in all of this?
This eloquently written book shares Billings's journey, struggle, and reflections on providence, lament, and life in Christ in light of his illness, moving beyond pat answers toward hope in God's promises. Theologically robust yet eminently practical, it engages the open questions, areas of mystery, and times of disorientation in the Christian life. Billings offers concrete examples through autobiography, cultural commentary, and stories from others, showing how our human stories of joy and grief can be incorporated into the larger biblical story of God's saving work in Christ.
Table of Contents:
1. Walking in the Fog: A Narrowed Future or a Spacious Place?
2. Sorting through the Questions: The Book of Job, the Problem of Evil, and the Limits of Human Wisdom
3. Lamenting in Trust: Praying with the Psalmist amid a Sea of Emotions
4. Lamenting to the Almighty: Discerning the Mystery of Divine Providence
5. Joining the Resistance: Lament and Compassionate Witness to the Present and Future King
6. Death in the Story of God and in the Church
7. Praying for Healing and Praying for the Kingdom
8. In the Valley: Toxins, Healing, and Strong Medicine for Sinners
9. The Light of Perfect Love in the Darkness: God's Impassible Love in Christ
10. "I Am Not My Own": Our Story Incorporated into Christ's
J. Todd Billings (ThD, Harvard University Divinity School) is Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several books, including Union with Christ, winner of a Christianity Today Book Award, and Calvin, Participation, and the Gift, winner of a 2009 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise
"J. Todd Billings has written a book that stands in a long line of distinguished books written out of deep suffering and reflection in faith and for the church. This book is informed--or better, formed--by the entire Bible, including those passages we often overlook. It is formed by the witness of the church, its history and struggles. It is formed by the mysterious, wrenching, and beautiful conversation between his own experience of incurable cancer and the Christian faith. Rejoicing in Lament is a profound witness to the gospel. I can hardly find words to express its intelligence, honesty, and richness."
--Gerald L. Sittser, professor of theology, Whitworth University; author of A Grace Disguised and A Grace Revealed
"This profound and heartfelt book is hard to describe succinctly. It's an elegiac reflection on the pain illness and death bring to a family. A meditation on suffering guided by the cries of the Psalmist and the poetry of Job. An exposition of the importance of classical theism for the work of the pastor and the life of the believer. A critique of the trite sentimentality of so much of contemporary Christianity. A journal of the physical and mental effects of traumatic cancer treatment. Above all, it is a moving and deeply personal answer to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism, What is your only comfort in life and death? This book is for all Christians, for sooner or later we must all face the challenge of our own mortality."
--Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary
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