David Furman’s Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials is not a book that answers why there is suffering in this world. This book could’ve been called How to Suffer Well, and Why, which is a great preview to the content, but far less poetic than the actual title. The title is taken from a famous Spurgeon quote: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” What does it mean to “kiss the wave”? What does it look like? And is it even possible?
The Question the Book Raises
In the years since I first read this book, I have spent many hours considering Spurgeon’s quote. I have stood on the cliffs, watched the waves of the sea crash against the rocks and marvelled at the sheer power and beauty of God’s creation.
Experiencing suffering, or facing any kind of trial, is like tumbling over the cliff. As we hit the water, we are no longer awe-inspired observers of beauty, but threatened beings desperate for salvation from the real danger. The waves, like our suffering, are chaotic and turbulent, they are overwhelming, dangerous and threaten to pull us under at any moment.
Our natural, self-preserving instinct, is to kick against the chaos, push for the surface and fight for breath! If the waves do not pull you under, then the force with which you are crushed against the rocks surely will. So if we have any strength at all we will fight to get out of the danger. To give in to the waves, to let them take us, is to give ourselves over to death. How, oh how, can one ‘kiss the wave’? How can we be thankful for suffering that all but promises destruction?
Kiss the Wave: A Book for Everyone
Furman writes for Christians and makes the accurate assumption that each of us, at one time or another, will experience suffering. In what form and to what degree cannot be known (only the Lord knows that) but the truths and encouragement he lays out are and will be relevant, helpful and encouraging to anyone who has ever suffered, is suffering or will suffer. In short, this book is for everyone.
This is a very personal book. Furman suffers from a debilitating nerve disorder that leaves him unable to use his arms. He is very candid about his struggles with depression and other challenging responses to his condition. It lends the book a great credibility, as he doesn’t theorise or hypothesise about what suffering well should look like, but strives alongside us to suffer well by pointing us to Christ, encouraging us to lift our eyes and fix them on him who has suffered far more (and for our sake) than we can ever imagine.
Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials
What does it mean to “kiss the wave?” These words, attributed to nineteenth-century British preacher Charles Spurgeon, speak to the Christian’s only hope for perseverance in suffering. What if we can learn to experience the nearness of God in the midst of suffering? What if God intends to work through our trials rather than simply take them away?
After living for more than a decade with a debilitating nerve condition in both arms, Dave Furman shows us that God, in his grace, always designs trials for our good—not minimizing the pain, but infusing significance into our suffering. Furman demonstrates that, even when tossed to and fro by stormy waves, God is near . . . and that makes all the difference in the world.
Furman helps move our gaze from the waves of our suffering and helps us fix our eyes on the place they will inevitably bring us: the Rock of Ages.
Content That Packs a Punch
Suffering, as an ‘event’ or subject, is heavy, dark and draining. Very few of us have the mental or emotional reserves to dive into deep theological treatise. So despite the heavy subject matter, the tone of the book is very light. This makes it an easy book to recommend to people who are in the midst of a trial.
Furman’s writing style is clear and simple, making it a very easy, relatively quick read. But the content packs a punch! Walking the reader through the gospel, Furman unpacks the truths of who God is, what He has done (and is doing) for us and what He has promised; and then applies it to our suffering. If you let it, the truth will encourage your burdened soul. He walks through the truths and implications of the incarnation, the crucifixion and the resurrection and how they make it possible for us to embrace suffering.
While Furman acknowledges there is nothing good about pain and suffering itself, it can be redeemed and used to make us more like Christ in ways that nothing else can. It is in suffering that our dearest idols are revealed and can be addressed, it is in suffering we practice our faith muscles and learn to truly trust in Christ. Weakness and suffering have always been God’s way to holiness. When we are weak we draw near to him; when we are at our weakest, our faith in him will bring him glory.
Kiss the Wave and Remember
Think of every influential Christian in history, think of those men and women you know personally who have had an impact on your faith and walk with Christ. They have not been the people for whom life was easy and uncomplicated. I can almost guarantee they have suffered, and have given you an example of how to suffer well. The last few chapters of this book challenges the reader not to withdraw in times of suffering but to look up and reach out, to serve God’s people in our pain and let them serve us.
Through this book, Furman helps move our gaze from the waves of our suffering and helps us fix our eyes on the place they will inevitably bring us: the Rock of Ages. Unlike the hard, unyielding, jagged rocks of the cliffs, we will not be crushed against our God and redeemer; no, there we find a refuge. Yes, the waves may still batter us. But as we grip and cling to the Rock, they will not destroy us. Look to your left and right, friend, as you cling to him, you will see you are not alone. We all, at some point will enter waves of suffering. So let us encourage one another to hold fast as God holds us. Furman calls us to persevere and remember this is not the end. He will bring us safely home!