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In the last few years, 9/11, a tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and many other tragedies have shown us that the vision of God in today's churches in relation to evil and suffering is often frivolous. Against the overwhelming weight and seriousness of the Bible, many Christians are choosing to become more shallow, more entertainment-oriented, and therefore irrelevant in the face In the last few years, 9/11, a tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and many other tragedies have shown us that the vision of God in today's churches in relation to evil and suffering is often frivolous. Against the overwhelming weight and seriousness of the Bible, many Christians are choosing to become more shallow, more entertainment-oriented, and therefore irrelevant in the face of massive suffering. In Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, contributors John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, Steve Saint, Carl Ellis, David Powlison, Dustin Shramek, and Mark Talbot explore the many categories of God's sovereignty as evidenced in his Word. They urge readers to look to Christ, even in suffering, to find the greatest confidence, deepest comfort, and sweetest fellowship they have ever known.


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In the last few years, 9/11, a tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and many other tragedies have shown us that the vision of God in today's churches in relation to evil and suffering is often frivolous. Against the overwhelming weight and seriousness of the Bible, many Christians are choosing to become more shallow, more entertainment-oriented, and therefore irrelevant in the face In the last few years, 9/11, a tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and many other tragedies have shown us that the vision of God in today's churches in relation to evil and suffering is often frivolous. Against the overwhelming weight and seriousness of the Bible, many Christians are choosing to become more shallow, more entertainment-oriented, and therefore irrelevant in the face of massive suffering. In Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, contributors John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, Steve Saint, Carl Ellis, David Powlison, Dustin Shramek, and Mark Talbot explore the many categories of God's sovereignty as evidenced in his Word. They urge readers to look to Christ, even in suffering, to find the greatest confidence, deepest comfort, and sweetest fellowship they have ever known.

30 review for Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Addy S.

    A great book for those going through hardship and suffering. Very encouraging to me and I guarantee it will be for you too!! Five stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christina Baehr

    Extremely helpful, passionate, and quite liberating. This book is an anthology of essays on suffering by a handful of Christian writers from a Reformed perspective, and it's never dry or detached (except for the chapter on ethnic suffering, which was - oddly - both, which lost the book one star for me). This is theology that will bring you to tears, in a good way. Extremely helpful, passionate, and quite liberating. This book is an anthology of essays on suffering by a handful of Christian writers from a Reformed perspective, and it's never dry or detached (except for the chapter on ethnic suffering, which was - oddly - both, which lost the book one star for me). This is theology that will bring you to tears, in a good way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andy Bintoro

    This is a rare theme, a book about theology of suffering. Not like any other books in the same genre which full of arguments, this is more easy and from many authors, for this book is from the piper annual congress turned into book. The content could be said legit, for after this conference two of the author got diagnosed with prostate cancer and still praise the Lord.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I highly recommend this for anyone, whether you have personally experienced suffering, know someone who has, or simply want to understand how suffering can possibly exist in God's order. It is rich with Scripture references, real-life people going through real-life suffering, and a strong calling throughout to seek God first or all else is meaningless. It is based on a conference held in 2006 so there is not one writer throughout the book but I think it is what gives the book more strength of vo I highly recommend this for anyone, whether you have personally experienced suffering, know someone who has, or simply want to understand how suffering can possibly exist in God's order. It is rich with Scripture references, real-life people going through real-life suffering, and a strong calling throughout to seek God first or all else is meaningless. It is based on a conference held in 2006 so there is not one writer throughout the book but I think it is what gives the book more strength of voice. Every one who writes a chapter comes at suffering from their own personal experience with it and makes the subject richer for it. Despite the subject, it is uplifting and hopeful and that says a lot considering the depth of suffering it discusses, some of which is far beyond the purview of most people I know.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jared Daugherty

    Wow! Can we really praise God in our suffering? The answer is 'yes'. This book gives us a great challenge to cling fast to Jesus Christ in all our challenges especially in our sufferings. Wow! Can we really praise God in our suffering? The answer is 'yes'. This book gives us a great challenge to cling fast to Jesus Christ in all our challenges especially in our sufferings.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Norton

    What a great book. This book is unique in that it originated as talks given at the 2005 Desiring God National Conference on "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God". The men and women who spoke agreed to write out their talks into book chapters and this book was born. Seven people came together to write this and what a blessing it is. Having seven different perspectives on suffering was more helpful than I thought it would be. At first, the book felt a little choppy since each author has their own What a great book. This book is unique in that it originated as talks given at the 2005 Desiring God National Conference on "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God". The men and women who spoke agreed to write out their talks into book chapters and this book was born. Seven people came together to write this and what a blessing it is. Having seven different perspectives on suffering was more helpful than I thought it would be. At first, the book felt a little choppy since each author has their own writing style, but the more I read the more I appreciated the different perspectives and experiences of each author. The book ends with reflections from John Piper and David Powilson regarding their battles with prostate cancer and how in general to not waste your cancer and with an interview between John Piper and Justin Taylor who are the general editors of this book. I found the whole book very helpful in managing the suffering that God puts into our lives and how to reconcile suffering with God's sovereignty and His holiness. This book offering practical suggestions as well as deep theological truths. Even if you aren't experiencing suffering right now, or you don't consider the suffering you are experiencing as "that bad", I would highly recommend this book. It offering a helpful and biblical framework for how to manage and think rightly about suffering which will aid you when suffering strikes. Because as I Peter 4:12 says "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you". We will experience suffering in this life if we follow Jesus Christ and this book will aid you in thinking about it correctly. (This book is FULL of Bible verses to point you to truth and offer suggestions for further study in the Bible.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    This is a collection of talks given in a Christian conference called Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. All the talks deal with this theme, with some focusing on how Bible portrays suffering and the sovereignty of God, some giving advice on how Christians who are suffering should walk in faith and in their understanding of the sovereignty of God, and some sharing their testimony about how they walked in suffering. My favorite chapter is the talk given by John Piper, on six ways suffering can This is a collection of talks given in a Christian conference called Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. All the talks deal with this theme, with some focusing on how Bible portrays suffering and the sovereignty of God, some giving advice on how Christians who are suffering should walk in faith and in their understanding of the sovereignty of God, and some sharing their testimony about how they walked in suffering. My favorite chapter is the talk given by John Piper, on six ways suffering can help Christians mature. He cites Bible verses for all six reasons. and he communicates the six reasons in an enthusiastic, passionate style that makes the reader actually feel uplifted when thinking about suffering as part of God's plan for Christian growth. Overall what stayed with me the most in explaining how suffering and God's sovereignty coexist is the account of Joseph in the Bible, in which Joseph said his brothers meant to harm him, but God meant it for good. That really helped me understand how bad things can be part of God's sovereign plan. Another detail of the book that stayed with me is David Powlison really, really, really likes the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" :P He liked it so much he gave an entire workshop on it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    This was one of the best and most helpful books I’ve ever read. Hard truths are contained within - but Piper and coauthors nail it with strong theology and scripturally based positions. Much of today’s church shys away from difficult topics like this, but by doing so they do Christianity a disservice. Here the authors tackle it head on and show why God allows (and even ordains) suffering in this world - to include in the lives of His followers. This book puts things in focus for those moments wh This was one of the best and most helpful books I’ve ever read. Hard truths are contained within - but Piper and coauthors nail it with strong theology and scripturally based positions. Much of today’s church shys away from difficult topics like this, but by doing so they do Christianity a disservice. Here the authors tackle it head on and show why God allows (and even ordains) suffering in this world - to include in the lives of His followers. This book puts things in focus for those moments when it is most difficult to see. Seasons of suffering will come to us all. This book will help you endure and grow from the experience. Even more, it will help you empathize with others during their trials as well. A “must read” for anyone having a difficult time reconciling faith and suffering...which is probably everyone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Noah

    I thought overall, it was very helpful. There were some chapters that were better than others, but it was well thought out, well-reasoned and Bible-based. For me personally, the 2nd chapter was the best chapter as I have been thinking over the issue of God's sovereignty and human free-will for a while. That chapter put into words a lot of things that I had been thinking for a while, so it was nice to get some confirmation there, however, there were times when I wished they had gone a little deep I thought overall, it was very helpful. There were some chapters that were better than others, but it was well thought out, well-reasoned and Bible-based. For me personally, the 2nd chapter was the best chapter as I have been thinking over the issue of God's sovereignty and human free-will for a while. That chapter put into words a lot of things that I had been thinking for a while, so it was nice to get some confirmation there, however, there were times when I wished they had gone a little deeper or taken their ideas a little farther.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This book has been sitting on my nightstand partway finished for probably two years. Every time I picked it up, its 204 pages felt heavy and textbook-like. I wasn’t ready for it. Now in quarantine from an international pandemic and having gone through a number of personal sufferings, I am ready. First book finished of 2020, and it was excellent. I may read it again before the year is up.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rodeo Girl

    This is an excellent book of suffering. Why we suffer, how God uses suffering and how we are supposed to suffer if we are Christians. Excellent for anyone, specifically for those who counsel people suffering in the body of Christ.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Hensley

    David Powlison writes a chapter in this book that is absolutely incredible! This is a book that is so encouraging for someone who’s has been into their second and third year of suffering or afflictions.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julia Reign

    Such an eye opening book. A lot of information to absorb, but I loved how much scripture everyone used in their chapters. Worked through it as a study with ladies from my church and all of us enjoyed it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Gentzler

    A simple, good read. Each chapter is stand alone as Piper talks about how the glory of God can be found in every aspect of life.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Potts

    This so far is the best book I’ve read on the topic of suffering.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book is everything a book on the theology of suffering should be. If you have ever hurt this book is for you and your good and Gods glory.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andy Treece

    This is a compilation of articles on the subject, which range from 3.5 to 5 stars, in my opinion. I give the book 4.5 stars overall.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bill Simmons

    Excellent read, a great deal accomplished in 254 pages. It needs to be reread at least 2 or 3 more times. Well worth the time, and effort.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dan Glover

    This volume addresses a very important subject and in light of the recent (and ongoing) disaster in Haiti along with many more in recent memory, this is a timely offering. For any readers already familiar with the works of John Piper, it will come as no surprise that this book is an exploration of the comprehensive and absolute sovereignty of God, in this case as it relates to the subject of suffering. The chapters are as different as the experiences and writing styles of the authors who pen the This volume addresses a very important subject and in light of the recent (and ongoing) disaster in Haiti along with many more in recent memory, this is a timely offering. For any readers already familiar with the works of John Piper, it will come as no surprise that this book is an exploration of the comprehensive and absolute sovereignty of God, in this case as it relates to the subject of suffering. The chapters are as different as the experiences and writing styles of the authors who pen them. Some chapters are dedicated to a biblical exegetical defense of the sovereignty of God over suffering, answering the many modern teachings which would deny that God has any responsibility for much less direct ordination of the suffering in the world (John Piper, Mark Talbot). Some chapters are more biographical, discussing the experiences of the authors and what they have learned from and about God through it all (Steve Saint, Joni Erickson Tada). Others are more pastoral, taking a counseling approach to the discussion (David Powlison, John Piper). Some are meant as an exploration of the causes and nature of systemic forms of individual and societal suffering (Carl Ellis Jr.). Wrapping up the book are sections by two of the authors (Piper and Powlison) about their own bouts with cancer. The book is very obviously a compilation of separate essays, with the main continuity coming from the chapters contributed by Piper. Some chapters are stronger than others in both content and writing style (some are clearly transpositions of verbal presentations). As a result and because of the varying focus from chapter to chapter, if you are reading cover to cover, it will seem to shift gears rather abruptly. However, this is not necessarily a weakness. It tends to keep discussions of different aspects of suffering and God's sovereignty over it within tidy units which can easily be referred back to in future, some likely more frequently and usefully than others. At the same time, there is an overall spirit that all the authors share across their various approaches to the topic - all authors are committed to the absolute sovereignty of God even in the hardest things a person will ever face. As such, they also all believe that, for Christians, this is a great comfort, knowing that God is at the helm even in the darkest times and that he is working even the worst things out for the good of his children and his glory. Simultaneously, God uses such suffering to call unbelievers to himself. Particularly good is the discussion of how Jesus himself, as God incarnate, suffered in his earthly ministry so that he could be a sympathetic high priest. This entering into the curse and suffering on the part of the redeemer is something too often missing in a self-centered, entertainment oriented and suffering averse modern church culture. This is a topic that is all too often avoided, mishandled or simply falsely taught about in the church today. Much of the church (like the surrounding society) chooses some form of escape in order to avoid facing discussions on the relation between God's sovereign rule and suffering. Suffering itself cannot be avoided however, so this frank, honest and biblically faithful discussion will serve the church well if it has the maturity to head these authors. God is Lord of all, including suffering. Like a good novel, we should not expect every chapter of our lives to end happily. However, as believers, we have the promise of God that the story ultimately ends joyfully, with all tears dried and all wounds healed. This book recalls a spiritually flabby and immature church to viewing suffering in this life as a part of the overall victory that belongs to all who are followers of Christ.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bendick Ong

    Piper is such a prolific writer i have not come across anyone who has finished reading all his books (and am way short of doing so too). But to go back to my point, he is still a very readable author even if you dun subscribe to christian hedonism. In fact, if you survey the titles of his books, one word also stands out: supremacy/ sovereignty of God. A calvinist, he believes in the full control of God over all matters – be they good or bad. And guess one of the biggest problems a calvinist has t Piper is such a prolific writer i have not come across anyone who has finished reading all his books (and am way short of doing so too). But to go back to my point, he is still a very readable author even if you dun subscribe to christian hedonism. In fact, if you survey the titles of his books, one word also stands out: supremacy/ sovereignty of God. A calvinist, he believes in the full control of God over all matters – be they good or bad. And guess one of the biggest problems a calvinist has to answer is the problem of pain. In this light, “suffering and the sovereignty of God” is a good book – a product of a conference held in 2005 based on the subject matter. There are 9 papers in it – written by various authors with piper and justin taylor as editors. Shall not go through them as taylor did an excellent summary of every chapter in the “introduction” part of the book. Instead just wish to say this book is at not all theoretically (except one chapter – shall not say which), but is rather, like what taylor had pointed out, “applied theology”. Eventually theology is about answering the issues in life, and i thought the authors did well, with special mention of stephen f. saint (son of nate saint, one of the 5 martyrs who traveled with jim elliot to ecuador) in chapter 5 and joni eareckson tada in chapter 9. They shared with us true accounts of sufferings and how they reconciled with them. For those who are interested in a bit of tough meat, read mark talbot (chapter 2). He has a good point in his attempt to reconcile our understanding of God’s sovereignty with man’s freewill. If this is still not real enough for you, piper and another author, david powlison contracted prostate cancer 5 months after the conference. And in this book, you will find their take of it as an appendix in an interview with them. The title is “don’t waste your cancer.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Rabe

    We went to the Desiring God conference where these messages were first delivered. John Piper's closing message is the highlight of this book: He lays the story of Joseph over the story of Adam and Eve. ("You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.") The sovereignty of God over the Fall has been startling for me. To see so clearly that all of history is not Plan B -- that the plan from the start was for God to display His glory through the death of His son -- changes the way I look at every We went to the Desiring God conference where these messages were first delivered. John Piper's closing message is the highlight of this book: He lays the story of Joseph over the story of Adam and Eve. ("You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.") The sovereignty of God over the Fall has been startling for me. To see so clearly that all of history is not Plan B -- that the plan from the start was for God to display His glory through the death of His son -- changes the way I look at everything. The words of Joni Earickson Tada and Steve Saint remain vivid in my mind, of suffering beyond any I have ever known and of souls that are stretched and made roomy through it to be able to grasp more of God. Beyond saying that God merely allowed the suffering, they flatly say that God caused their suffering -- and as I read the Bible I see the support for that over and over. This theology has given me a deeper love and trust in the Lord, who controls all things and works all things for my good and His glory. Every essay in this book is worthy of your time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pat Roseman

    I read this book after my husband's death. It was a great help as I waded through the messiness of grief. from pg. 184 - Of course we know intellectually that God does not forget to be gracious and that he will indeed be compassionate. We know that he hasn't rejected us and that his steadfast love is forever. But there are times when our pain is so deep that truths in our mind just can't seem to penetrate the darkness that surrounds our hearts...This text [Psalm 88] is in the Bible so that when s I read this book after my husband's death. It was a great help as I waded through the messiness of grief. from pg. 184 - Of course we know intellectually that God does not forget to be gracious and that he will indeed be compassionate. We know that he hasn't rejected us and that his steadfast love is forever. But there are times when our pain is so deep that truths in our mind just can't seem to penetrate the darkness that surrounds our hearts...This text [Psalm 88] is in the Bible so that when suffering and pain come and we are between the affliction and the triumph in the midst of the questions, pain, and clouds of doubt, we may see that what we are feeling is normal. It has all been felt before, all the questions have been asked before. We are not the first. We are not alone. And we are not in danger of losing our faith (at least not yet). God is a big God who can handle our questions, our anger, and our pain.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lillie

    This book includes sermons and essays by several different authors on the subject of suffering and the sovereignty of God. All of the authors agree that God is completely sovereign, and we would have no pain or suffering unless He allows it. John Piper goes a step further and states that God ordains all suffering, even predestining an infant to be abused and murdered. This leaves me wondering, where then is free will? Does God cause all sinful actions of mankind that lead to conflict, illness, i This book includes sermons and essays by several different authors on the subject of suffering and the sovereignty of God. All of the authors agree that God is completely sovereign, and we would have no pain or suffering unless He allows it. John Piper goes a step further and states that God ordains all suffering, even predestining an infant to be abused and murdered. This leaves me wondering, where then is free will? Does God cause all sinful actions of mankind that lead to conflict, illness, injury, pain, and suffering? Many of the essays talk about what we can learn and how we can grow closer to God through suffering, and those were very meaningful to me. I'm still struggling with God's ordaining and predestining everything that happens to us, though.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    I rate this a 5-star book because I think every Christian should read it at some time. I'm not a Calvinist, and this books presents suffering from a very specifically and exclusively Calvinistic perspective, so I wouldn't say that I agree with it 100%. However, I would still rate it 5-stars because the points it makes are important for every Christian to consider. The 95% of the book that I agree with was very thought-provoking and helpful. I would even say that, as far as the predestination con I rate this a 5-star book because I think every Christian should read it at some time. I'm not a Calvinist, and this books presents suffering from a very specifically and exclusively Calvinistic perspective, so I wouldn't say that I agree with it 100%. However, I would still rate it 5-stars because the points it makes are important for every Christian to consider. The 95% of the book that I agree with was very thought-provoking and helpful. I would even say that, as far as the predestination controversy goes, that every Christian should either be a Calvinist, or be able to read a book like this and articulate exactly what they don't quite agree with in a Calvinist argument like this, and why. So it was a good book for me to read, and I think would be good for any Christian.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Tate

    There are some books that give pause and you stop and think, "Hmmmm...". Then there are books like Suffering and the Sovereignty of God that bring your thinking up short when it comes to the whole issue of why we suffer, why God allows it, why so much agony and pain. There are no pat answers in this book. The people who explain the various aspects of suffering in the presence of a sovereign God do so without being flippant, coy, or above it all. These are people who have been hammered on the anv There are some books that give pause and you stop and think, "Hmmmm...". Then there are books like Suffering and the Sovereignty of God that bring your thinking up short when it comes to the whole issue of why we suffer, why God allows it, why so much agony and pain. There are no pat answers in this book. The people who explain the various aspects of suffering in the presence of a sovereign God do so without being flippant, coy, or above it all. These are people who have been hammered on the anvil of sorrow yet remain convinced -- absolutely convinced -- of the goodness and love God sheds on us in our most extreme moments of pain. This is a book I will read time and time again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gary M.

    Suffering and the problem of evil have been dealt with, mostly unsuccessfully, by philosophers and theologians for centuries. John Piper and friends tackle these difficult issues in a collection of essays based on the 2006 Desiring God conference in the Twin Cities. This much is certain: all of us will suffer and incur injustice. How we fit that fact into a God-centriq universe will determine our level of joy therein.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark A Powell

    One problem with suffering is that we often fail to consider it until we are in the midst of it. In those moments, we are unlikely to hear anything over the roar of our pain. Thankfully, books like this one take us through these issues before we face them, answering real questions for real situations. It takes suffering out of the academic realm and frames it squarely in terms of how it applies to our suffering.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shiffra

    I liked that the whole book wasn't by John Piper. Each chapter was by a different person. I ended up skimming over a lot of the parts about why Christ had to suffer because that's not an issue I struggle with. But the parts about suffering in our world today were good. There was a chapter that talked about what it means that it's all for His glory that was a good perspective and also a lot about the importance of pain. I liked that the whole book wasn't by John Piper. Each chapter was by a different person. I ended up skimming over a lot of the parts about why Christ had to suffer because that's not an issue I struggle with. But the parts about suffering in our world today were good. There was a chapter that talked about what it means that it's all for His glory that was a good perspective and also a lot about the importance of pain.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Stillwell

    This book is for those people who sometimes struggle with the "why God" syndrome. Why did God allow those planes to hit the World Trade Center.. why did God take Leslie (a 25 yr old mother) from her 20 month old baby and husband?.. why do good things happen to people who love Jesus? It is a good read for anyone really! This book is for those people who sometimes struggle with the "why God" syndrome. Why did God allow those planes to hit the World Trade Center.. why did God take Leslie (a 25 yr old mother) from her 20 month old baby and husband?.. why do good things happen to people who love Jesus? It is a good read for anyone really!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Luis

    Great book. learned that God is sovereign over all things. very Hard topic to Grasp, nevertheless is comforting to know that there's nothing a person can be affected by if its not first passed through God for permission;this should make us all the more ready to talk to God in prayer and ask him about anything. Great book. learned that God is sovereign over all things. very Hard topic to Grasp, nevertheless is comforting to know that there's nothing a person can be affected by if its not first passed through God for permission;this should make us all the more ready to talk to God in prayer and ask him about anything.

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