Rev. Richard John Neuhaus
“A persuasive invitation to a fuller life.”
“Father Jonathan has allowed the reader entrance into his private study where he welcomes and converses with us on a personal yet riveting journey. His spiritual insight is profound!”
“With true compassion Father Jonathan Morris tackles a reality we will all confront sooner or later...His specific advice shows all of us how to turn tragedy and pain into spiritual gifts that can actually heal us in unexpected ways. Here’s a Promise worth keeping, and sharing with others.”
“Easy to understand, with stories that everybody can identify with, The Promise left me with a better understanding of God’s way, when life hurts. I’ve already given a copy to someone who is suffering a personal challenge...”
Charles J. Chaput
“...Pope John Paul II spoke often and eloquently about the meaning of suffering. Father Morris has written a wonderful sequel to the Holy Father’s thoughts, but from a very different perspective: that of a young priest; a man of energy, insight, world experience and engaging popular style.”
“The Promise will be for the book world what The Passion was for filma watershed moment of inspired creativity capable of transforming lives from the inside out. Don’t believe me? Ask my wife, she read it too and is already passing it on to family and friends.”
“The Promise is a must read for those experiencing life’s difficult trials. Clearly, Father Jonathan is fast establishing himself as one of the most respected religious figures of our times.”
Reverend - Richard John Neuhaus
"A persuasive invitation to a fuller life."
Morris, a Roman Catholic priest and Fox News analyst, draws from his religious tradition as well as his experiences in the world of media to present understandable and genuine advice for those who suffer-in other words, everyone. The "promise" of the title is God's promise to bring something better out of suffering. For some, this may oversimplify the matter, but for others it will provide a glimmer of hope. One of the most useful chapters addresses the various images of God that people hold-all of which are incomplete, and some of which can be seen as spiritually harmful. The author describes these images accurately, ties them in with how people who maintain those images view suffering and uses real-life examples he has encountered in his ministry. The theodicy question (why does a loving God allow suffering?) will always present a quandary to believers of all stripes. Morris is successful in making the claim that it is possible to sustain one's faith in the midst of what is sometimes a cruel world. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read an Excerpt
God's Purpose and Plan for When Life Hurts
Do You Even Care, God?
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.
—1 peter 5:7
When a mother kisses the cut on her son's scraped knee and promises, "This will make it go away," she isn't telling a pious fib. Her presence, in her lips and in her words, truly heals the hurt.
The Scriptures say that God is love (1 John 4:8), but when it comes to someone being there for us when we suffer, it seems our earthly mother is a whole lot more reliable than our heavenly Father.
Where is God when we need him most?
A story from the Gospel of Mark explains beautifully one of the key elements of the Christian theology of suffering: God is with us.
If you want to understand Christianity, if you want to understand—or rather to know—Jesus Christ, this is a good place to start. You aren't so sure you believe that a two-thousand-year-old story has anything to do with your pain? That's understandable. For now, I invite you to just listen in.
Jesus is traveling across the sea with his disciples after an evening of preaching to the crowds. He decides to catch up on some sleep while his disciples, seamen by trade, tend to the navigation. Little by little night falls, the breeze builds, a light shower becomes a downpour, and the waves gain strength. Unexpectedly the travelers find themselves in the midst of a violent squall while the rush of cold seawater mercilessly swamps their little boat.
They skate across the deck and holler betweenthemselves, futilely trying to keep their humble vessel afloat. But all is in vain, and they know it. Hope is cast away and swallowed up in the tempest. Where is God in all this?
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" (Mark 4:38)
In other words, "Of course you don't care, or you wouldn't be in the back of the boat. Do you really think we believe you're sleeping in the middle of a squall?"
Frustration and fear are in that question, but also grief: "We're dying! Don't you care?" That would be the real horror. Maybe God just doesn't care. Maybe all our pleas just fall on deaf ears.
The disciples asked this for the rest of humanity. All eyes are on Jesus. All ears are waiting on his word. The disciples said their piece. They expressed their gripes plain and clear. They accused Jesus, the divine Son of God, of indifference. Can't you just see the nameless disciple with soaked hair pasted to his forehead, glaring into Jesus' eyes as if to say, "Anything to say for yourself, Teacher?"
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?"
They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"
The most compelling part of this Gospel story is that it is true. It really happened: the man who calmed the seas and who claimed to be divine submitted himself to the same tumultuous waves as the mortals who complained. The narration mirrors our posture before God and his before us. It unveils our ignorance, self-centeredness, and lack of trust. In the face of threatening troubles we question God's power; we doubt his goodness. The God whose blessings we were counting brief moments before is now the target of our pointing finger.
Kim was a real-estate agent with a handsome husband named Jim, who made a good living selling corporate insurance. He had a membership at the country club, and he and their three boys were into sailing. Winter vacation was often spent in Naples, Florida, where they held a timeshare. Private school for the kids, K through 12, was a given. Life was good and fast, but, on top of their busy schedules, they usually squeezed in time for church on Sundays. They weren't religious fanatics, and from what I remember they were proud of that, too. Religion was a cultural thing and served the good purpose of teaching moral principles to the kids and calming what would otherwise be guilt-ridden parental consciences.
In other words, faith was something they did, not lived.
Kim was zipping down the Van Wyck Expressway on her way to pick up Jim at Kennedy Airport one Saturday morning. The Land Cruiser suddenly stalled, and she slowed to a stop on the shoulder. As she huffed and sheepishly went to lift the hood, she managed a nervous laugh. What do I know about cars? she thought. Puzzled and anxious, she cupped her face into her hands and then looked down to see the cars passing beneath her: she was on the overpass. Then came the crash.
An eighteen-wheeler collided with her back bumper and catapulted Kim to the perpendicular freeway stories below. The first speeding cars managed to dodge her body. When emergency vehicles arrived on the scene they found her alive, barely.
Kim was transported to a nearby hospital, where—days later, when she came to—she learned she had fractured fourteen bones and suffered a concussion. The doctors informed her husband that she wouldn't be leaving anytime soon.
The suffering had just begun. Kim was in a full-body cast and virtually immobilized. That would be her story for the next twelve weeks. Beyond that, since the moment she awoke, she was in excruciating pain, and no medicine seemed to offer any relief. Jim was beside himself that the doctors couldn't ease her suffering. All he could do was keep her company. The rest of the family did the same, taking long and wearisome shifts. The Promise
God's Purpose and Plan for When Life Hurts. Copyright © by Jonathan Morris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.