So life sucks…what are you going to do about it? Life happens, and it’s not always pleasant, but somehow we’re expected to get through it. And then just about the time we convince ourselves that we’re invincible, death stares us in the face. The mortality rate in my state, and in yours, is 100%. Or as someone once said, “From the moment we’re born, we’re preparing to die.
What a pleasant way to encourage someone to read a book, but there it is. “The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times” by Frederick W. Schmidt (Abingdon Press, 2013) is a stark reminder that bad things happen to good people, and that people of faith are not exempt from the basic realities of life.
The blurb on the back cover cautions the reader that ‘life is raw, and so is the language in this book’. But the language was, in the context of this story, not a concern. Schmidt frames his book around the death of a loved one, his brother Dave. There was nothing ‘nice’ about the death; Dave, a surgeon, is struck with cancer and for 7 years lives with an “expiration date” stamped on his forehead. Real people in raw situations react in a variety of ways and one of those ways is to use raw language.
The author helps himself and us to learn to deal with people in those raw situations in a way that would pass the ‘Dave Test”: with authenticity.
All too often when we’re faced with struggles, our own or those of others, we default to a way that is anything but authentic. We rail at God, we leave the faith and the church of our childhood, or at least we take a break. But Schmidt helps us realize that we can be real without abandoning our faith, in fact sometimes the situations serve to strengthen our faith.
The book is basically the 10 questions that comprise the Dave Test. And the answers are not so targeted that they only fit one point of view. They are at once pastoral, in the sense of pastors need to hear this too and also as advice that pastors might give to those who are hurting and grieving. But they also speak to us as human beings: when I’m in this situation is it ok for me to feel this way, and how do I deal with these feelings? They speak to the friends of those who are hurting: I don’t know what to say, what to do; I want to help but feel so inadequate. Answers, suggestions, hints, and subtle nudges alternated with much more overt shoves help us to learn to deal with our own insecurities as we face the ones we love in their times of loss.
This book is for anyone who has ever been in the position of being a friend to someone who was hurting and just didn’t know what to say.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review.