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Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  4,336 ratings  ·  455 reviews
New York Times bestselling author of The Songs of Jesus Timothy Keller—whose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readers—explores one of the most difficult questions we must answer in our lives: Why is there pain and suffering?

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is the definitive Christian book on why bad things happen and how we should
Hardcover, 369 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Viking (first published 2013)
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Average rating 4.34  · 
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 ·  4,336 ratings  ·  455 reviews

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Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What is most impressive about this book is not that it is theologically profound, or philosophically precise, or psychologically wise, or pastorally helpful, but that it manages to be all of those things at once in a single book.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
There were some excellent parts of this book and maybe one day I will return here and write about them. But I was SO very disappointed that both stories of child loss ended with the birth of a new child. Having lost two children ourselves (age 14 months and 10 days old), and not getting that 'happy ending' of another child to bring healing and joy back into our home, and and an answer to our prayers, reading this just felt like an extra huge kick to the gut. While it is great that these couples ...more
Mar 13, 2014 rated it liked it
The book is divided into three sections. Keller is upfront that not all sections will address what the reader most needs at a particular time. I am probably in the minority that preferred the philosophical/theological section over the practical advice portion.

At the conclusion of several chapters, Keller included a testimony of someone whose story of suffering illustrated a point in the chapter. I found myself frustrated by what seems to be a recurrent theme in Christian books. (I could list tit
Cindy Rollins
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: suffering, 2014
Today is my birthday and this has been a pretty bad year for me. Through the course of this very bad year I have read many books on suffering some have been a very raw sharing of emotion. That is fine and sometimes helpful but this book by Tim Keller is ever so much more than that. I can't imagine a better book on the subject. It has echoed so many lessons I have been learning and gave me courage to truly trust God completely in the midst of pain. It walks the Christian through all the stages of ...more
Jesvin Jose
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If I were given a choice to go on a lonely island with a handful of books, I would sure carry some of Keller’s books. It is not without reason that Tim Keller is called the CS Lewis of our generation. He is simply a brilliant Christian thinker! And as you begin to read him and see how he makes his case chapter after chapter, you will inevitably say to yourself: “Here is a master at work”! I love the way he masterfully builds arguments through the book to make his case. But make no mistake – this ...more
Danielle Williamson
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: suffering
4.5 stars

An excellent and comprehensive book on what suffering means. If COVID-19 has revealed one thing, it is that we are severely deficient in a robust theology/philosophy of suffering. Our modern Western culture has taught us that hardships are interruptions to our happiness, rather than an inevitable and valuable part of each of our stories leading to a greater good; our culture has given us no tools or instruction on handling suffering and so, in the midst of it, we turn to other things t
Samuel Kassing
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is my second time reading this book and it's the best big-picture take on suffering that I've read.

I'd highly recommend it. Read it. Pass it along.
Helped Jim Tandy teach a college class at RPC in Waco using this book (2016–17).


1: cf. the 1755 Lisbon earthquake
2: Macbeth quote
3: take life seriously, but don't despair bc of suffering—we need spiritual help
4–5: people reject God bc of suffering, but they also find Him thru it; CSL: pain is God shouting
5–6: suffering in OT/NT
6: Kellers' personal suffering (cf. the beginning of Prayer); joy thru suffering
6–7: S. Weil says suffering makes God seem absent—Ps. 34 says that
Kara Sauder
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps one of my favorite books. My only fear is that the title would cause people to self-select out of reading it, when I believe it's relevant and appropriate across seasons and experiences. I'm so grateful this book was written, and I anticipate reading it many more times. ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Keller is an amazing writer. In this book he was able to explain what suffering is, give us good reasoning for the problem of evil, and explain very well how to deal with suffering in a Biblical way. What a great book! Honestly the best book I've ever read, and I don't say that lightly. Please read this, whether you are suffering or not, currently. I promise it will change you. ...more
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own

A first I didn't want to read this book. I have a prejudice against trendy-looking mega-church pastors, and Tim Keller sort of fits the stereotype, with his shaved head and earring. I was expecting some well worn Christian cliches, lots of Bible verses and little new in terms of insights and wisdom. Boy was I wrong. This was no hyped up how-to book. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering was a philosophical book of sorts, with sound reasoning, logic and grounded theology. I found myself hig
Christopher Gow
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: formation, theology
Helpful and nuanced :)
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not just a very good book on how to deal with suffering from a Christian worldview but a potent challenge to secularism and a needed corrective to naive Christian responses to the problem of evil. Keller aims to not just answer the problem philosophically but provide readers with a theological and devotional framework to work through the problem in their own lives. He does this well but the book is too long as a result and sometimes repetitive. Keller is best at exposing the inability of secular ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Who would of thought that a book with a subject about pain and suffering would bring such joy. God has gifted Timothy Keller with such wisdom in understanding the human heart. If you are reading this and even slightly feel inclined to give this book a try I wouldn’t absolutely urge you to do so. May it give you a song of joy in your heart as well. “It cannot be that He doesn’t love us. It cannot be that He doesn’t care. He is so committed to our personal happiness that He was willing to plunge i ...more
Libby Powell
Jun 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is an incredibly comprehensive, theologically rich, well-reasoned approach to the reality of pain and suffering. The sheer volume of content - from philosophical defense, to theological exposition of Scripture, to shepherding exhortations and guidance - sets this book apart as one of the most well-rounded on the topic of suffering that I have read. Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering is something quite unique, and also much needed. Keller writes with wisdom and solid reasoning, ...more
Angie (Bussen) Siedell
Let me start by saying, I am a huge Tim Keller fan. He's one of the most insightful authors I've read, and he shares some great insights in this work. This book deserves a five star rating for its passages on how a person should/should not deal with a grieving/suffering person. So, if you're not the grieving, but want to know how to better help those who are, run out and get this book. Or, if you're surrounded by idiots who just can't keep themselves from telling you "It's for the best." or "Eve ...more
Aaron S
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it
The concept of this book is an absolute for everyone in the world we live in today. We all face pain, tragedy, and loss in numerous ways. Unfortunately (at least for me) there was just too much unneeded stuff. If you want to talk about everything that was in the book, I feel like you need to eliminate the God part of the title. I don’t want to come off wrong here, but who’s God? Which god? There were related chapters as well as information about God relating to Christianity, but there was also a ...more
Mitchell Dixon
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is without a doubt the best book Keller has written. This gives such a deep and rich answer the the problems at hand. He speaks so eloquently about the gospel answer to pain and suffering and how we as Christians walk with God through it.

We all go through pain and suffering, it is not a matter of if but when. Please read this book to help you have categories for it before it overwhelms you.
Oct 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Informative, logical, encouraging, but likely overwhelming for most clients of mine. I wouldn’t hand this one out or offer to a client without caveats and disclaimers—he is a pastor and doesn’t express the kind of grittiness that comes out of most people I know in the throes of suffering. This is a book directed towards people already steeped in church culture.
Will Barbour
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent on so many levels. As always, I love how Keller explains and even compliments views before he criticizes them where he sees fit. This was helpful as he outlined the different approaches to suffering. He turns the tables by showing how the presence of evil in the world is actually a sign of God because we are appealing to objective moral standard when we deem something evil (if there's no God, our conception of evil can just be a private feeling).

My favorite part of this bo
Bailey L.
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is SO GOOD for those wrestling with this topic. Really, even if you aren't, it is still worth reading because undoubtedly someone in your life is wrestling with this.

I read this alongside a student, and we started with part two (per Keller's suggestion) about how to practically walk through suffering so that we ended with part one regarding modern and historical philosophies about suffering. I recommend following that advice if you're at all inclined to do so / don't read philosophical
David Steele
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have yet to meet a person who enjoys pain and suffering. Yet suffering is a part of the warp and woof of life. It is not a part of God’s original intent for creation. Since Adam’s first sin, pain and suffering have been an abnormal part of the cosmos. Suffering is an unwelcome guest who bullies his way to the table and makes demands – much like a soldier a bloody battlefield.

Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller addresses this topic with candor and clarity. Keller leave
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
At the start of the pandemic, I was walking through a painful experience. As shops, libraries, and churches were closing, I was left trying to process my personal pain in the midst of national suffering and confusion. ⁣

I decided to read Tim Keller’s WALKING WITH GOD THROUGH PAIN AND SUFFERING because why not dig deep into something I couldn’t ignore. I’m not usually one who seeks distraction, and I am grateful I didn’t try it now. ⁣

Keller starts the book by explaining how different worldviews
Elisha Lawrence
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Might be my favorite book this year! The wisdom here for walking thru suffering is beautiful. Keller shows the varieties of suffering we could experience and the varied ways different people are comforted. There is not one pad answer for people in suffering.

And he shows the important things to do while in suffering (weep, trust, pray, think, reorder our loves and stay in community). The Scripture and stories are in the midst of trials and many don’t seem to have a great ending. This book gives m
May 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about Keller's book, believing that it makes some valid points even if it doesn't live up to its title. Keller is on target in criticizing contemporary Western culture for failing to give people a solid, consistent belief system that allows them to deal with pain and suffering. He notes, correctly in my opinion, that Christianity is superior to most other religions in preparing people for tragedy and seeing them through it when it occurs. (Granted, the fact that Christianit ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book could not have come at a better time for me. After the hardest season I’ve ever experienced, and through a period of still-unanswered prayer... God is still good.
Joshua D.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Most books on suffering are either philosophical/theological in approach (and therefore usually cold and unhelpful to the person in the thick of suffering), or a "hold your hand" kind of book (leaving the more profound questions untouched). The former deals with WHY questions to suffering; the latter HOW questions. The beauty of Tim Keller's book is that it does both. Written for both believers skeptics, Keller pulls the string on the universal questions of suffering. It's a lengthy book, but in ...more
Alex Strohschein
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Timothy Keller is my favourite “celebrity pastor.” His writing is clear, crisp and culturally engaged. Having spent over two decades in New York City pastoring Redeemer Presbyterian, Keller’s analysis of pain and suffering weave the insights from leading philosophers (Simone Weil) and psychologists (Jonathan Haidt) throughout. The first part of the book is based around providing a philosophical and theoretical foundation for examining pain and suffering. The second portion attempts to offer expl ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-changing
This book should be required reading for every Christian, and thus far in my life, this is the only book besides the Bible (and, half-jokingly, Paradise Lost) I've said that about.

Here's why. So often, the Problem of Evil is carelessly tossed out as a reason God shouldn't be worshiped, making those who are prone to uncertainty (i.e., me) squirm uncomfortably as we try not to 1) act defensive or 2) fall into a spiral of scary doubt. This book shows how Christianity, far from being debunked by th
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I do not feel that I can give this book justice in this review, but I shall try my absolute best in as few words as possible. This book came to me in my reading journey in the middle of a very trying and difficult period in my life. As a Christian, I know that no one on this earth is exempt from suffering, but I truly wanted to learn to "suffer well" and to learn, grow, and mature through suffering. This book is a treasure trove of historical/cultural/religious views on suffering, the Christian ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons. For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.

He is also Chairman of Redeem

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28 likes · 4 comments
“The problem is that contemporary people think life is all about finding happiness. We decide what conditions will make us happy and then we work to bring those conditions about. To live for happiness means that you are trying to get something out of life. But when suffering comes along, it takes the conditions for happiness away, and so suffering destroys all your reason to keep living. But to “live for meaning” means not that you try to get something out of life but rather that life expects something from us. In other words, you have meaning only when there is something in life more important than your own personal freedom and happiness, something for which you are glad to sacrifice your happiness.129” 20 likes
“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.” 17 likes
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