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Finding Life in the Movements of Human Suffering, Pain, and Loss by Jeffrey C. Tucker

September 02, 2016

 

Book Excerpt- Finding Life in the Movements of Human Suffering, Pain, and Loss by Jeffrey C. Tucker

What if God is Love? Not just love, but a powerful love? What if the power of God's love truly defines the 'who, what, and why' of God? The kind of love that wants the best, the fullest, the most loving, liberated life for us. Not a jealous, possessive, obsessive, compulsive, and destructive kind of love. Not the kind of love that makes otherwise well meaning people say: "Sorry for your loss, William. I guess that God needed another angel in heaven." "Sorry about his passing, Mary. But heaven is a little better place now with Ted there." "Sorry about your loss, Joe. I guess God loved your best friend too much." "Sorry about your pain, Sue. But God never gives you more than you can handle." "Sorry about this situation, Pete. God must really be angry with you. What did you do?" No, not that kind of love. But an unconditional, non-stop, grace-filled love for us. That's right. For us. Powerful. Powerfully present and loving. Power-packed. I'm talking about the kind of love where God sits with you in your sorrow and pain and grief. The kind of love that brings loving people to your side when you hurt. The kind of love that powers you to go on... sometimes to simply go on. To be open to tomorrow. The kind of love that brings unexpected blessings in pain's midst. The kind of love that brings unexpected hope. The kind of love that brings a new friend into your grieving space. The kind of love that slowly brings a smile to your face when you remember someone lost. A smile that walks with your tears. Perhaps a smile before the tears for a change. A loving, happy memory. A new memory. A fresh memory coming back. That's a powerful love. It's there. God is there in the thick of things. Quietly transforming, healing, sustaining, comforting you with all God's power. If we let God.

What if God is a God of life, not death? Why in the world would God create us only to destroy us? Please explain this to me. What kind of God relishes death, poverty, marginalization, destruction, starvation, disease and sickness, grief, and sorrow? And suffering, for Pete's sake. What if all the stories about God's wrath were simply ours... about God? You know, my enemy has been vanquished. "Thanks, God. It must have been you doing it. Good stuff. Things really worked out. They got what was coming to them. Must have been you, God. There's no other explanation. Good deal. Way to put them down, God. I need to bookmark this one for posterity. That's the way that I saw it." Our dream. Not God's. And here's another story of ours: The whole God kicking us out of the Garden of Eden in the Bible. You know, in a rage, where God condemns us to 'ashes' in the end? Because we ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Because we were bad. Is that God's story or ours? Maybe one we made up about God? Not God's story about us.

So, what if God actually sent us out from the Garden on purpose? With a real purpose.

What if God wants us to journey, to live, and to love? In peace. In 'just' harmony and community. Where everyone is welcome. In all life's fullness. Now, that's a good story. God's. Not ours. What if God's life in us is a light, sometimes flickering, sometimes burning brightly? What if our job is to keep the light burning? To make it burn more brightly. To share it with others in peace, harmony, community, fullness... and love.

What if that light is our compass, our guide, our true self, the very meaning of our lives?

I mean life. A God-filled life. A just and interdependent life. I mean real life.

"So, you're telling me that God is present, especially for those who suffer.

Powerful, but in a different kind of way. Grace-filled and ever-loving. And a God of life.

But, I'm suffering and in pain. And God feels pretty silent at the moment. Crickets, really. I'm waiting. And I'm waiting. What gives, God? Where are you?" Sometimes God does feel absent. But here's a thought: We can't long for something that's not already in us. Here for us. Greater than us. Forever for us. How can we love God and others if someone didn't put that in our hearts to start with? Someone who loved us first. Yes, us. How can we grieve our loneliness and isolation if someone didn't create us to live with others in love... in the first place? Yes, us. How can we marvel at the sheer wonder of creation if that's something that we humans cooked up? Yeah, tossed it together a few years back. Like a picnic lunch or something. No. We look with amazement at the stars in the sky. Towering peaks. Turquoise, clear oceans. Majestic waterfalls. The effortless gallop of a beautiful horse. Nothing ho-hum about that. Not a tossed salad here. No. It's a brilliant buffet. And we didn't do it. God did it. Then God gave it to us to care for. God is not 'us' and is not those things. But God is in us and in those things. And we're in God's image and likeness because God loved us and made us first. God invites us to live for the God who made us and loves us. Even when we suffer. Especially when we suffer. Because we're not alone. Even when God seems distant and far away. Even then, God is near. Even then, we're with God. That's comforting when we suffer. Especially then.

 

 

The End of the Island:

Finding Life in the Movements of Human Suffering, Pain, and Loss

By Jeffrey C. Tucker

 

What if you were to look at human suffering, pain, and loss with another lens? Not as something that you merely make it through but as something that you move around within.

In this fresh, creative, and provocative new book, Jeffrey Tucker explores suffering in new ways, challenging our existing beliefs and theologies while offering a healthier and more helpful approach to viewing ourselves, our faith, and others in the face of suffering.

Tucker addresses specific and practical questions that we often ask ourselves when we suffer--attempting to locate our suffering, our identity, the persons of the Divine, our support, and our hope in the process.

He also engages us along the way by wrapping wisdom within the framework of a story of an old man on an island who is seeking answers to his pain and loss. The journey takes unexpected turns as the old man learns new ways to walk and to live in the midst of his pain. As we join the old man in his walk, we learn new ways as well. This highly readable and accessible book offers thought-provoking and transforming ideas for persons of every walk of life and faith.

"So often in life, it is not so much the experience but the reflection upon each experience that gives our life meaning and purpose. This book, written sometimes like a story, sometimes like a conversation, and supported every step of the way with thought-provoking questions and prayer, gives the reader many opportunities to pause and reflect. It is a simple yet profound guide to choosing how to live wisely, with meaning and purpose."

-Barbara Hunter, certified Presence-Based Coach®

 

"This book gently encourages the reader to embark on a journey through the deepest questions of life, pausing here and there for reflection and inviting personal insight. It is to be savored slowly and prayerfully. Tucker's strong faith leads him to a universal comprehension of suffering and belief that supersedes denominational and religious affiliation. One cannot read this book without being touched."

-Elsa Hale Mintz, Rector Emeritus of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Glenmoore, PA

 

"Jeffrey Tucker, a thoughtful and compassionate chaplain, draws from his experiences in the hospital setting to share poignantly about the reality of suffering within the human experience. Almost poetically he gives voice to the various faces of suffering and the movement of suffering through its challenges and questions to places of resolve and acceptance."

-Barbara Emery, Chaplain and Spiritual Care Team Leader, Paoli Hospital

 

"The End of the Island is a book to embrace. Initially [Tucker] promises much, and as you are moved by the narrative . . . you soon discover he delivers what he promises. Read it first alone, then read it with your book club or with a church group. But by all means, read it."

-Stephen L. Dutton, Christiana Care Health System, Manager of Pastoral Services, CPE Supervisor & CPE Program Director

 

Jeffrey C. Tucker is a hospital chaplain in the Philadelphia area. He earned his Master of Theological Studies Degree from Palmer Theological Seminary. As part of his degree program, he researched and wrote extensively on contextual theologies, completing a double thesis on them from a Latin American perspective. Tucker is currently nearing completion of his Master of Divinity from the same seminary. He is active in his church community, supporting outreach to the poor.

 

The End of the Island:

Finding Life in the Movements of Human Suffering, Pain, and Loss

By Jeffrey C. Tucker

Resource Publications, A Division of Wipf & Stock Publishers

ISBN-10: 1498279066

ISBN-13: 978-1498279062

Pages: 172, Paperback

Publication Date: April 2016

Retail Price: $20.00

 

To Order visit www.amazon.com, www.wipfandstock.com, local bookstores and other online booksellers.


 

 

 


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