When I first started showing signs of my neuro-degenerative disease, I spent a lot of time writing about my experience with suffering. I haven’t written anything on the topic for many years. Partly because life happens and time to sit down and write is costly. However, I’ve also come to believe that, though my thoughts at the time were sincere, they were a bit misguided. I allowed my experience with suffering to consume me and although I wouldn’t have said it at the time, my theology of suffering was very “me centered”.
Enter R.C. Sproul’s book, Surprised by Suffering. It isn’t often that I give a book five stars. This book is worthy of all five. Sproul writes with the wisdom that a lifetime in the pastorate produces. This book is invaluable. If you are suffering, it may not scratch that itch to go deep into the emotional struggles that you are experiencing, but it will assuredly anchor your soul in the profound hope that is ours in Christ. What I am trying to say is that as one who has been suffering for almost eight years now, I know that you are tempted do dive deep into the depths of your soul to try find yourself. I also know that you likely believe this is what you need. Eight years later I can say with confidence that this leads to some very dark places. Sproul clearly knows this and this is evident in how he directs our attention away from ourselves and to the only one in whom we can confidently hope.
Surprised by Suffering takes you on an intellectual tour of the experience of suffering. Sproul starts with some helpful definitions and moves quickly into the idea that we should expect suffering, the reason for suffering and into the experience of death itself and what it is to die in faith.
The really good part comes in the latter half of the book, which is dedicated to our hope of eternal life with Christ. This is what gives substance to our suffering. This is the difficult lesson which all who suffer must come to learn.
In all of this, Sproul anchors our suffering to the sure and steadfast providence of God. This book is a gem and is now the first book I would recommend to anyone who is suffering.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher as compensation for my review . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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