Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering, By Kelly M. Kapic alt

Embodied Hope

A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering

by Kelly M. Kapic

Embodied Hope
  • Length: 197 pages
  • Dimensions: 0 × 0 in
  • Published: June 06, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 9097
  • ISBN: 9780830890972

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World Magazine Book of the Year
Creative Quarterly Professional Graphic Design Runner-Up
Christianity Today's Book of the Year Winner
ECPA Top Shelf Book Cover Award

"This book will make no attempt to defend God. . . . If you are looking for a book that boasts triumphantly of conquest over a great enemy, or gives a detached philosophical analysis that neatly solves an absorbing problem, this isn't it."

Too often the Christian attitude toward suffering is characterized by a detached academic appeal to God's sovereignty, as if suffering were a game or a math problem. Or maybe we expect that since God is good, everything will just work out all right somehow. But where then is honest lament? Aren't we shortchanging believers of the riches of the Christian teaching about suffering?

In Embodied Hope Kelly Kapic invites us to consider the example of our Lord Jesus. Only because Jesus has taken on our embodied existence, suffered alongside us, died, and been raised again can we find any hope from the depths of our own dark valleys of pain. As we look to Jesus, we are invited to participate not only in his sufferings, but also in the church, which calls us out of isolation and into the encouragement and consolation of the communal life of Christ.

Drawing on his own family's experience with prolonged physical pain, Kapic reshapes our understanding of suffering into the image of Jesus, and brings us to a renewed understanding of—and participation in—our embodied hope.

"Elegant and accessible, Kelly Kapic's personal and probing book Embodied Hope gives a theological exploration of suffering that stands apart from other books. Instead of giving Christian clichés or therapeutic platitudes, Kapic testifies to the way in which the triune God's light shines in the darkness of physical pain, chronic illness, and loss. With pastoral sensitivity and theological insight, Kapic calls the church to live into her God-given identity, even in difficult seasons. I highly recommend it!"

J. Todd Billings, author of Rejoicing in Lament

"I am all too familiar with the topic of this book, having lived as a quadriplegic for nearly fifty years and dealing daily with chronic pain. So I'm always heartened when I stumble upon a rich new resource that really encourages. That describes the remarkable book you hold in your hands. Rather than focus on why, Kelly makes much of how—how to trust God in this world. Best of all, Embodied Hope leads the reader to the foot of the cross, the only place to find true relief and healing. I love this book!"

Joni Eareckson Tada, founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center

"Kelly Kapic's Embodied Hope is a well-written and tremendously helpful theological meditation on pain and suffering, with many examples of ongoing and long-term conditions, including his wife's chronic pain. It is full of biblical realism, acknowledging struggle, confusion, longing, and lament as human in a compassionate and humane way, centered in Christ and his incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming. It also emphasizes the need for loving and prayerful support from one another in the body of Christ and faithfulness in loving God and others in the midst of such chronic pain and suffering. Highly recommended!"

Siang-Yang Tan, professor of psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Counseling and Psychotherapy and Managing Chronic Pain

"A famous Christian once described preaching as 'truth through personality.' By that definition, Kelly Kapic's new book is powerful preaching indeed. Kapic presents a range of biblical expositions, all filtered through his deeply personal wrestling with the ongoing chronic pain of his wife and some of his other friends. Here is sermonic theology to comfort, console, and fortify your faith."

Wesley Hill, assistant professor of biblical studies, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, Pennsylvania

"Out of Kapic's own encounter with pain has come a book that reflects deeply on the theological challenges it poses. As a theological meditation, it helps sufferers dispel distorted images of God and gently nudges them to engage in consideration of God's full identification with us in the incarnate Christ to find an existential answer to an existential problem. Pastors ministering to people facing the enigma of suffering will find here a resource that is at once theologically robust and pastorally sensitive."

Simon Chan, Trinity Theological College, Singapore

"I know of many books about loss. I know of very few books about physical pain, which is the subject of Kelly Kapic's insightful and challenging book. His wife's experience of pain awakened him to the problem, and his broad study and deep reflection prepared him for the writing. Kapic accomplishes what is most difficult. Embodied Hope is personal, to be sure. A book like this one almost has to be. But it is also learned and pastoral. He interacts with great minds, both past and present. He explores relevant, even surprising topics, such as the significance of embodiment. Above all he lifts up Jesus Christ as the one who suffers with us and for us, who conquers death, who stands with us. This fresh book does it all. I learned a great deal while reading this book; I also felt a great deal. It is the combination of the two that I found so helpful."

Gerald L. Sittser, professor of theology, Whitworth University, author of A Grace Disguised and A Grace Revealed

"True theology is shaped, refined, and informed by the harsh realities of life. In Embodied Hope, Kelly Kapic re-examines Christian theology from the vantage point of the ongoing physical suffering that has invaded his own family. This is theology that touches down in real life. It moves from abstract, theoretical notions of God to truth that is necessary for faith to survive. Against the backdrop of human suffering, Embodied Hope invites honest engagement with the God who loves us. This book is a gift for those who are wrestling with hard questions and an important resource for ministry leaders in the church and the academy."

Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church and Malestrom

"Here is a rare gift of love to the Christian church—especially for sufferers, their watchers, and all who observe deep pain. Kelly Kapic combines love for Scripture, familiarity with the spiritual masters of the past (Athanasius, Luther, and John Owen, to name but a few), and friendship with contemporary sufferers, together with a gracious sensitivity to the sometimes inscrutable wisdom of God. Kapic's reliable and gently applied theology, married as it is to personal experience, offers exactly what the title suggests: embodied hope."

Sinclair Ferguson, teaching fellow, Ligonier Ministries, author of Deserted by God?

"Kelly Kapic's Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering shows the importance of both hope and lament: Lament makes up more than 40 percent of the Psalms, but many contemporary churches emphasize happy or upbeat music. Christ's work saves us from the tyranny and finality of death, but we need to learn much about confession and faith along the way."

Marvin Olasky, World Magazine, August 4, 2018

"This work speaks to three distinct audiences: those who suffer, their caregivers, and the community that must embrace them both. Those who share the author's religious outlook will find resonances in a culture that might otherwise fail to provide what is needed most."

Library Journal, June 1, 2017

"We think it can help readers of any background who live with serious illness or physical pain think more deeply about the roles God and faith play in their daily lives."

Pain-Free Living, June/July 2017

"Embodied Hope is a breath of fresh air and a source of hope, as Kapic takes a holistic approach to pain and suffering. Rather than downplaying orthodoxy in order to be practical and compassionate, he gives us a rich teaching of Christian anthropology, Christ's person and work, and an eternal perspective. He takes care to deal with the physical aspects of suffering as well as its connection with the spiritual. This approach directs our gaze to Christ while not ignoring the hard questions that sufferers and caretakers must face."

Aimee Byrd, Christianity Today, December 13, 2017


A Necessary Prelude

Part I: The Struggle
1. Hard Thoughts About God
2. Don't Answer Why
3. Longing and Lament
4. Embracing Our Embodiment
5. Questions That Come with Pain

Part II: The Strangeness of God
6. One with Us: Incarnation
7. One for Us: Cross
8. Risen and Remaining

Part III: Life Together
9. Faith, Hope, and Love
10. Confession and the Other
11. Faithful


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Kelly M. Kapic

Kelly M. Kapic (PhD, King's College, University of London) is professor of theological studies at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He is the author or editor of several books, including A Little Book for New Theologians and Mapping Modern Theology.