In this remarkable application of a theology of the cross to pastoral care, Sharon Thornton shows that while suffering may seem to be our birthright, not all suffering is inevitable. The wounds society collectively inflicts on people over time, both intentional and through indifference to one another, challenge us the most and have been addressed the least by pastoral theologians -- injuries such as interracial animosity, gender discrimination, and class divide, as well as injuries resulting from wars and genocide.
This book is about suffering, but it is also about hope, and one of the theological places for discovering authentic hope is the cross. The cross names suffering for what it is, and it can be a means for radically critiquing all attempts to camouflage, minimize, or distort the truth of its reality. Thornton proposes that Christian community and pastoral care must start with the lives of real people where they are hurting. Only when pastors take this suffering seriously and face what is really wrong can there be hope to make things better.