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When Life Sucks: On the Questionable Value of a Therapeutic Church

But there is also reason for hope, and the church has nothing of value to offer without a durable message of hope grounded in its experience of the living Christ. The self-satisfied agnosticism of some churches is a betrayal of the gospel and a disservice to those who seek our help.

Finally, we need to build our capacity for soul care. I know of a wealthy church of over five thousand members that once turned away a family whose child who had cerebral palsy. The rationalization offered was, "We don't have the necessary facilities and his condition upsets the other children."

Nothing could better illustrate the willful choice of comfort over honesty, the effort to care, and the responsibility to speak a word of hope to people in hard places. People who look to the church should be able to say, "When life sucks, God is there." That is more than therapy can promise.

4/10/2011 4:00:00 AM
Frederick Schmidt
About Frederick Schmidt
Frederick W. Schmidt is the author of The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Life in Hard Times (Abingdon Press: 2013) and several other books, including A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005) and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). He holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Job Institute for Spiritual formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and Consulting Editor at Church Publishing in New York. He and his wife, Natalie live in Chicago, Illinois. He can also be reached at: http://frederickwschmidt.com/