If you are of a certain age you may remember the intro to the Wide World of Sports, a program I loved to watch with my dad every weekend. The intro included the tag line “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat” while showing footage of a ski jumper crashing in a heap on the ramp. It was sort of agony to watch that crash, you could almost feel the pain of the jumper. It was then that I determined ski jumping was one sport I would never attempt. I did however, take up equine sports which have their fill of agony so it’s not like I avoided pain.
No one goes into a sport like that thinking first of the pain, and the glory second. They are aware falls and pain will come, but they focus on the thrill of victory. Pain is the thing we try to put out of our mind, and look forward to the things we can do to prevent it, or get out of it. This rarely works. Pain in life is inescapable.
In Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in the Trials by Dave Furman, acceptance of the pain is what we are encouraged to do, and with the most effective tool at our disposal-the Gospel. The title is from a quote that is attributed to Charles Spurgeon, who had his own share of trials, grief and pain. “I have learned” Spurgeon is to have said, “to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages”. What Spurgeon meant is that it is by looking to the Rock, the Sovereign God, we can accept our circumstances and be equipped by His grace for His plan for our good and His glory.
Dave Furman has a unique ability to speak to the trials in our life with candor and compassion that I rarely find in books on trials. While it is abundantly clear from the scriptures that a life of smooth sailing without pain is never promised to the Christian, it is equally clear we will have pain, and that sometimes in abundance. Yet, many authors have a tone in that truth that brings more weight than relief, or present the truth with nothing more than lists of scripture that many of us know, but still find it difficult to find comfort in them.
Where Furman differs is in the revelation that while the path of suffering exists, it is the light from the Cross that provides insight, comfort and strength through our trials. The focus of each chapter consistently brings us back to the Cross, to the gospel that saves and the gospel that provides for our sanctification. Because of the gospel, we are different, our perspective is different, and our source of hope and coping is different. If we lose sight of the gospel, we lose sight of who we are in Christ and all that is given to us by Him. Furman masterfully unfolds these truths in a spirit of gentle compassion.
The book focuses not so much on trials and our weaknesses, but on God and His greatness. Each chapter takes different attributes of God and the way they meet us in our suffering, whether it is a short term situation or potentially lifelong, like a chronic illness. Learning how God is our refuge, what His rescue of us provides for us, His fatherly love and intimate knowledge of our pain shifts our perspective to the Rock of Ages. How should we respond to this? Chapters like Weakness is the Way and You are Part of Christ’s Body encourage us in practical ways to embrace God in our trial.
And here is what you need to know about Dave Furman. This isn’t a man who has obtained good theology through academia but in the stormy sea of profound and debilitating affliction. A church planter in Dubai, husband and father, Furman is afflicted with a nerve disorder that makes the function of his arms extremely limited and excruciatingly painful. These are truths he has learned in the sea of pain. You learn a bit about his discovery of these truths through his story, but this is not a memoir. What it keeps us from doing what we often do, dismiss them an author’s insight by assuming they don’t know what it’s like to suffer. It’s not one-upmanship, it’s identifying with your suffering.
I found this book consoling, insightful and perspective shifting. In the middle of pain and suffering, this is hard to accept, but it is in the truth of God’s goodness and love that we find a Father who knows your suffering, who hears your cries, who is, even when it doesn’t seem like is, near to you and moving on your behalf. He is with us through the pain.
I also found a few things you might not agree with, depending on your denominational or non-denominational camp. But these are differences that shouldn’t take away from the overall truth of this books premise, that the gospel is the source of life and hope in the midst of our pain.
This is a book I will return to when the next set of waves start to build. After having read it once, I find myself going back to particular chapters to sit a little longer with the truths that never change, even when my circumstances do. “In this world, we will have trouble” is the scripture none of us have on a plaque as a favorite promise. But Kiss the Wave is full of promises, insight and hope to help you embrace the waves when they come.
Read well friends.
Crossway Books, January 2018
160 pages, including recommend resources, index and scripture index
***Thank you to Crossway Books for providing threeladiesoflit.com with a complimentary copy for review.***This post contains affiliate links, which means purchase made from said links provides a tiny remuneration to the ladies.***