Book Review: “Suffering in 3-D: Connecting the Church to Disease, Disability, and Disorder”

Have you ever considered your church as a hospital, a family, or as a Discipleship Culture?  Dr. Kwasny has. Have you ever considered how to connect your church to individuals suffering in one or more of the “3-D’s” – the 3-D’s being Disease, Disability or Disorder? Dr. Kwasny has.[1]

I just finished reading Suffering in 3-D and I wanted to bring this great resource to you in summary form, hoping you will want to find out more by reading the book yourself.

At some point in our lives, we will, undoubtedly, run into someone suffering in body or soul from disease, disability and/or disorder. It might even be us, ourselves.  Do we connect the fact that body suffering may impact soul suffering?  Do we understand that there is an interaction between the two – body and soul? (That is not to say all soul suffering comes from body suffering.)

The foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada shows how there are soul issues associated with body disability.  Within a few months of her physical disability, she became depressed.  A Christian helped her with her depression, and she became convinced the Bible did and does have answers for her.

The first section directs us to how the church is connected to suffering.  After sin entered the world, suffering has become pervasive. This brings us face to face with life issues – how do we respond to the suffering that comes upon us? Idols affect our response. Distractions affect our response. Apathy affects our response. Do we, as a church, welcome those who suffer into our churches or would we rather they just move on down the street?  These three chapters cause us to do some deep soul searching – as individuals and as churches.

The second section provides some answers to those individuals and churches who wish to be caring and compassionate.  The church is described as a hospital[2], as a family unit, and as a discipleship culture. The term hospital is rooted in the Latin word for “host” which we would understand to be a guest house or inn. We see the word “hospitality” coming from that root word. The question becomes, “Is your church a picture of a hospitable church?”. Do you welcome the spiritually sick? We’re all familiar with what a family is. But as brothers and sisters in Christ – do we function as one family? Or are there outcasts in your church family? There’s no room for that in the church family – where unity is demanded and expected. Last, does your church function as a discipleship culture? Is individual spiritual growth expected? Are members able to help one another in spiritual growth?  Is there a counseling center for those needing individual spiritual help? Does your church family practice church discipline for the sake of Christ’s testimony, and for the purity of the church and for the restoration of weak members?  These are characteristics of a loving church ministering in 3-D.

Each chapter concludes with three sets of questions for self-examination.

  1. For personal reflection
  2. For church assessment
  3. For group discussion

The book contains much, much more. I hope this has raised your curiosity to read the entire book. Dr. Kwasny answers fully the two questions I raised at the beginning. I encourage you to get the book and read it.

Thank you to the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) for providing this material to Friends of ACBC at no cost.

[1] John C. Kwasny, “Suffering in 3-D: Connecting the Church to Disease, Disability, and Disorder”, Series: Counsel for the Heart, Paperback: 176 pages, Publisher: Shepherd Press (June 10, 2019), Language: English, ISBN-10: 1633421678, ISBN-13: 978-1633421677

[2] Interestingly, The Gospel Coalition posted “What if Pastors Were More Like Doctors?” written by Zach Eswein on December 6, 2019. See the full post at  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/pastors-cared-soul-harold-senkbeil/  accessed 12/7/2019

Michael HinesMichael Hines
Mike Hines is retired from Purdue University. He is an ACBC Certified counselor in the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries. Mike co-teaches in the Berean Adult Bible Fellowship, is the Treasurer for Faith Community Development Corporation, leads a Point Man Bible Study group, and serves as the initial point of contact for new guests in our Food Pantry/Clothing Closet. Mike has served as Deacon at Faith. Mike has served in the community on the Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union Board of Directors and the United Way Allocations Committee. Mike and his wife, Marilyn, have been members of the Lafayette community since 1969 and a member of Faith since 1978. Mike and Marilyn have two children and four grandchildren.