Hurting Yet Whole: Reconciling Body and Spirit in Chronic Pain and Illness, By Liuan Huska

Hurting Yet Whole

Reconciling Body and Spirit in Chronic Pain and Illness

by Liuan Huska

Hurting Yet Whole
  • Length: 232 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: December 08, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4807
  • ISBN: 9780830848072

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What if the things we most fear about our bodies—our vulnerability to illness and pain—are exactly the places where God meets us most fully?

As Liuan Huska went through years of chronic pain, she wondered why God seemed absent and questioned some of the common assumptions about healing. What do we do when our bodies don't work the way they should? What is healing, when one has a chronic illness? Can we still be whole when our bodies suffer?

The Christian story speaks to our experiences of pain and illness. In the embodiment of Jesus' life, we see an embrace of the body and all of the discomfort and sufferings of being human. Countering a Gnosticism that pits body against spirit, Huska takes us on a journey of exploring how healing is not an escape from the limits of the body, but becoming whole as souls in bodies and bodies with souls. As chronic pain forces us to pay attention to our bodies' vulnerability, we come to embrace the fullness of our broken yet beautiful bodies. She helps us redefine what it means to find healing and wholeness even in the midst of ongoing pain.

"I have a chronic illness that was misdiagnosed for decades. Countless doctor visits and a fleet of alternative remedies not only brought no real relief but added to the shame, pain, confusion, isolation, and sense of failure I often felt during those years. What I needed most was a companion like Liuan Huska—someone who had not only walked a similar difficult journey but had done the emotional, theological, and medical work that could bring wisdom and insight to the questions that arise around chronic illness. Hurting Yet Whole is a book brimming with honesty about the nature of what it is to be an embodied human being made in the image of God. There are no quick fixes or simple formulas in this beautiful book, but there is something of much greater value in its pages for patients, caregivers, pastors, and anyone who loves someone facing an ongoing illness: compassion."

Michelle Van Loon, author of Becoming Sage: Cultivating Maturity, Purpose, and Spirituality in Midlife

"We have another theologian on our hands! Here you have a wise, studied, and informative look at living as an embodied human being. While reflecting on her own story, Liuan Huska thinks carefully and writes well about the meaning of wholeness given our illnesses or chronic illnesses. What's more, she highlights a looming problem: our penchant for swimming in a sea of modern-day Gnosticism (among other things). This book is powerful because it is a lived theology, a practical theology of the body in narrative form, not detached speculation. Incarnational. May we sit at her feet and learn."

Marlena Graves, author of The Way Up Is Down: Finding Yourself by Forgetting Yourself and A Beautiful Disaster

"Hurting Yet Whole is a welcome addition to the literature about living with chronic illness. Liuan Huska weaves her personal experience with theological insight in an accessible and compelling way. This would be a deeply helpful resource for people just beginning to grapple with the reality of chronic illness in their own lives, and anyone desiring to respond to the limits, pains, and contingencies of their own physical body with less enmity and more tenderness."

Bethany McKinney Fox, director of student success and adjunct professor of Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Disability and the Way of Jesus

"Hurting Yet Whole speaks to an issue every Christian—every person—faces: How do we live well in bodies that don't always work 'right'? Every human on the planet has, or will, experience the 'malfunctioning' of our own bodies. But is this only about loss? Can we only think of this in terms of what is wrong? How have those who have gone before us, and members of diverse cultures, thought about and experienced these same phenomena? In the vein of Malcolm Gladwell or Andy Crouch, Liuan Huska has made accessible sophisticated research from areas such as anthropology, biology, psychology, and theology, together with narratives of her own and others, to offer this gift of a book. If you have a body or know someone who does, this book is for you."

Brian M. Howell, professor of anthropology at Wheaton College

"There's a lot of bad theology on suffering to suffer through. Liuan Huska's Hurting Yet Whole does the hard work of sifting through the mire and offering us a finer answer to the eternal question, How do I live in my body now?"

Erin S. Lane, author of Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe

"Liuan Huska has woven her own story of chronic pain together with theological critique and insight in a way that is both easily accessible and deeply thoughtful. This book is not just a hopeful and honest guide for people suffering from physical ailments. It is also a companion into the pain of a fragmented and disconnected world that longs to be made whole. Hurting Yet Whole invites all of us to understand pain differently than our culture—and the church—has taught us, so that we can find a different type of healing and wholeness."

Amy Julia Becker, author of White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege

"Of all people, Christians should have an understanding and appreciation of the human bodies God created that bear his image. Yet, too often, Christians neglect the role our bodies play in the life of our souls on earth and in eternity. I'm so thankful for the way Liuan Huska tenderly and humanely stitches these two parts of our humanity back together in this wise, lovely book."

Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well and Fierce Convictions

Read an Excerpt


1. A Journey Begins

Part One: Falling Apart
2. Split at the Core
3. Elusive Healing
4. The Myth of Medical Mastery
5. The Burden Women Bear

Part Two: Becoming Whole
6. Vulnerable Bodies
7. Our Human Limits
8. The Craft of Suffering
9. A Different Wholeness
10. A Community of Wounded Healers
Epilogue: The Journey Continues



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Liuan Huska

Liuan Huska is a freelance writer and speaker focusing on topics of embodiment and spirituality. Her writing, on everything from chronic pain to evangelical fertility trends, has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, In Touch Magazine, Hyphen, Sojourners, and Church Health Reader. She lives with her husband and their three little boys in the Chicago area.