This Too Shall Last
Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers
This book is not a before-and-after story.
Our culture treats suffering like a problem to fix, a blight to hide, or the sad start of a transformation story. We silently, secretly wither under the pressure of living as though suffering is a predicament we can avoid or annihilate by working hard enough or having enough faith. When your prayers for healing haven't been answered, the fog of depression isn't lifting, your marriage is ending in divorce, or grief won't go away, it's easy to feel you've failed God and, worse, he's failed you. If God loves us, why does he allow us to hurt?
Over a decade ago chronic illness plunged therapist and writer K.J. Ramsey straight into this paradox. Before her illness, faith made sense. But when pain came and never left, K.J. had to find a way across the widening canyon that seemed to separate God's goodness from her excruciating circumstances.
She wanted to conquer suffering. Instead, she encountered the God who chose it. She wanted to make pain past-tense. Instead, God invited her into a bigger story.
This Too Shall Last offers an antidote to our cultural idolatry of effort and ease. Through personal story and insights from neuroscience and theology, Ramsey invites us to let our tears become lenses of the wonder that before God ever rescues us, he stands in solidarity with us. We are all mid-story in circumstances we did not choose, wondering when our hard things will end and where grace will come if they don’t. We don't need to make suffering a before-and-after story. Together we can encounter the grace that enters the middle of our stories, where living with suffering that lingers means receiving God's presence that lasts.
In this contemplative debut, therapist Ramsey, who has an autoimmune disease, explores living with pain and explains that she has a messy "middle story" rather than a tidy "before and after." Ramsey argues that most Christians believe in God's ability to heal the body physically and spiritually, and therefore have trouble dealing with long-term suffering. She chronicles her adult life, revealing how suffering exposes self-sufficiency ("Our unique ways of escaping and avoiding suffering are rooted in a self-sufficiency that will never be enough") and suggesting that though pain may seem like the enemy, not facing it will only create more problems. She includes many moments taken from scripture that detail God's goodness and also warns against the tendency to minimize or overly spiritualize suffering. Quoting Jesus's words to his disciples, she refutes the perception that suffering results from a lack of faith: "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world." She also challenges assumptions about repentance (described by Ramsey as self-reflection and commitment to self-betterment) by reframing it through the perspective of grace and communion with God: "repentance is remembering that all of life is an opportunity for communion and choosing to live as such right now." Christians dealing with pain will appreciate Ramsey's comforting, candid memoir.