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My friend Kurt Willems has a book coming out in March and I had the chance to read an early copy. It’s called Echoing Hope: How the Humanity of Jesus Redeems our Pain. I could recommend this book without even reading it because I can recommend Kurt as a person. And after reading it, I can say that the book represents him well.
Kurt is the pastor of Pangea Church in Washington. I would describe him as a pastoral theologian… and his book reads the same way. By that I mean he will connect with you on an emotional level while simultaneously dropping some profound theological depth in the process. It’s a rare skill to be able to balance the two as well as he does.
A few theological goodies:
God’s empathy is better than God’s control.
Jesus practiced love in advance so he could live out love on the spot.
In Jesus, God suffers with us all.
One aspect of the book that jumps off the page is the raw vulnerability in which Kurt shares his own story. He shares the raw pain of growing up with the father figure in his life. I suspect his ability to share this narrative can only come from a truly confident person who has put in the work to deal with the pain that many of these stories represent. It’s also where Kurt shows how much he has to offer the reader by diving into territory that many Christian books won’t dare to touch. We all know pain and this book offers you a way to see Jesus in the midst of it.
Here are a few quotes that express this idea:
Joy and pain aren’t enemies. They’re companions. The highs and lows of life dance together more often than we’d like to admit.
Something is profoundly wrong. Jesus goes missing way too often.
Jesus desires that we step into the world’s pain, echoing hope to the hurting as we wait for him to bring creation to an eternal state of shalom.
When we hurt, we allow it to empower us to move through suffering in a new way. Love isn’t the remedy to pain—at least in this life. Just as Jesus didn’t neglect his own pain but went to the cross and laid down his life for friends and enemies alike, so we embrace pain and invite it into companionship with God’s love.
It’s refreshing to read a Christian book that doesn’t promise me prosperity and success. Rather, it invites the reader to experience the depth of life in Jesus. As Kurt says, “Jesus took on our nature so that we might take on his.”
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