Book review - Suffering Well
The Predictable Surprise of Christian Suffering
Review by Paul Cavanough
Suffering happens! If you find yourself personally confronted with the reality of suffering, a book with the title ‘Suffering Well' tends to catch the eye. It is especially attractive that the book is part of a series titled ‘Guidebooks for Life'.
If you are like me you'll find yourself looking for a book like this when times are tough for you or the people you love. Obviously I went to the last page to see if I could expect to be disappointed. I found this,
My prayer is that this book might spur you on to know God-to know him as he truly is and to live in the light of his generous revelation. (p. 165)
That's right - this book is only 165 easy-read, story-filled pages of insightful and biblical reflection on the topic of suffering. The author touches on some examples of suffering which were unexpected by me.
By way of example, do you know folk who are suffering because their children and grandchildren reject Christ? I have been praying for my brother to turn to Jesus for thirty-five years. This book insightfully acknowledges the deep nagging pain that results for so many of us.
...there is something very sad about seeing family and friends and even just casual acquaintances living sinfully...It simply brings disappointment and sadness. (p. 121)
How did we ever get the idea that life should be a breeze?
The author suggests that like television shows we all play stories in our head which are created by the world we live in. One example is that anything that causes suffering must be bad because suffering is pointless. The biblical perspective, which the author drives home, is that God uses suffering to build perseverance, character and hope in his people. (Romans 5:3-4)
Biblical illustrations and current stories are powerfully mixed to drive home the foundational realities of the impact of sin in our world and the power of God in our lives. The author touches on the realities of physical suffering such as terminal illness, natural disaster and martyrdom. I found comfort, challenge and encouragement in his conclusion that,
The world experiences suffering not because God is out of control but because God is in control. And the solution to suffering is not to see everything sorted out in our time, but to wait patiently for God to act according to his character. (p. 41)
So you think that suffering is no big deal for you? No great struggles or persecution in your life?
This book will challenge you deeply as it asserts that,
The great danger for Christians living in the West is not physical death at the hands of persecutors but slow spiritual death of a thousand tiny compromises crouched at our door, waiting to devour our hearts.(p. 97)
This book draws answers for the deepest questions from the biblical text. Although not perfectly structured at times, the author's key points and arguments are easily accessible for any Christian with a love for the Bible and a desire to understand God and his ways.
I loved this read. It helped me through a time of deep questioning.
Suffering Well: The Predictable Surprise of Christian Suffering by Paul Grimmond. Matthias Media