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Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life Hardcover – December 31, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Reformation Trust Publishing; Revised, expanded edition (December 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567691846
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567691849
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

It's a real gift to the church when a seasoned theologian, with insights gained from years of personal experience and biblical study, handles a tough topic like suffering. Here you will find the wisdom of biblical perspective combined with the eternal hope of the gospel leading you to greater rest in your Savior, even in times of trouble. I am thankful for the new edition of this book. --Paul David Tripp: President, Paul Tripp Ministries, Minister to Center City, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pa.; Professor of pastoral life and care, Redeemer Seminary, Dallas , Texas

As an oncologist, I have the privilege of caring for people as they 'walk through the valley of the shadow of death.' In such times, people of faith find themselves faced with the most troubling questions of human existence, namely those raised by suffering and death. In 'Surprised by Suffering' R.C. Sproul concisely and sensitively affirms what I believe to be the three critical truths we need to grasp in order to preserve through suffering and death. First, the inevitable and vocational nature of death/suffering; second, God's sovereign redemptive purposes in suffering; and finally, the certainty of eternal life in perfect fellowship with Him and our fellow believers. I was delighted to learn of this book's republication, and my reading of the manuscript reaffirmed why we do not grieve as those who have no hope. --James W. Lynch Jr., MD: Professor of medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology; University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Fla.

In Surprised by Suffering, John Calvin meets Florence Nightingale. This is a rare work, a melding of the theologian and the pastor-a book that looks straightforwardly at suffering and teaches, explains, confronts, and comforts. By a dozen, as you will be given this one away to someone who is hurting in the world around. --John P. Sartelle Sr.: Senior Minister, Tates Creek Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY.

About the Author

Dr. R. C. Sproul is the founder, chairman and president of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education ministry located near Orlando, Florida. His teaching can be heard on the program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and in 40 countries worldwide. He is the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine and general editor of The Reformation Study Bible, and the author of more than seventy books and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. Dr. Sproul currently serves as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's in Sanford, FL.

Customer Reviews

The index at the back of the book is a very helpful reference tool.
Janette Fuller
All we need is to know Christ, that He is good, that He cares for us, and He's working out his perfect purposes through the things we suffer.
David Kurlowich
Once again Dr. Sproul continues to provide the church with excellent Biblical teaching.
Dave Ingram

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Keiki Hendrix VINE VOICE on October 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Is suffering a vocation, a calling from God? Is death a vocation? What is the purpose of our suffering?

First published in 1988, Surprised by Suffering is a resource every Christian should read sometime in their lives. In this revised and expanded release, a new chapter on Sovereignty adds much to the original version.

Having some friends experiencing a great deal of suffering, I read this book in attempt to find some wisdom to share with them. R. C. Sproul does not disappoint. His teaching in this book is very straight forward and addressing the issue of suffering in the life of a Christian exceptionally well.

If you know anything of R. C. Sproul, you will know that he does not teach a pie-in-the-sky view of Christianity. What were my favorite parts and what new insights did I gain from reading this?

He first addresses Karl Marx comment that `religion is the opiate of the masses' - with this comment "There is no scandal in the mercy of God to the afflicted." I just loved that.

And to the `positive thinking' preacher and their teaching, he says "The zealous person who promises us a life free from suffering has found his message from a source other than Scripture."

But what I was looking for in this book I found in this statement "It is when we view our suffering as meaningless - without purpose - that we are tempted to despair." The knowledge that suffering has a purpose is the focus of the entire book.

The Q&A section at the end of the book was also interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I recommend it highly.

Reviewed by: Keiki Hendrix
Reviewed for: The Vessel Project
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By joshua r brown on July 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Surprised By Suffering is a book that truly did surprise me, unexpectedly. The main pretense of the book is different than I would have guessed. What I expected was the typical: "Be encouraged in your suffering because you are in good company of many saints who have suffered before you", and "Jesus suffered, so you should not complain when you suffer". I even expected a little bit of: "If you are really a christian, you should be able to find joy in suffering because Romans 8:28 says that all things (even suffering) are working together for those who are called according to His purposes, for those who love Him." But as I said, this book surprised me.

Dr. R.C. Sproul begins by explaining that we rarely ever, if at all, suffer the way that we make ourselves think we do. We all have a tendency to think that what we are going through at the time is the worst thing that could ever happen to us. He says that we all have a tendency to suppose that we can carry far less than we actually can. Dr. Sproul continues on this point by saying that the promise of God is not that He will never give us more weight than we want to carry, put that He will never put on us more than we can bear.

He then continues to explain the role of suffering in the life of a christian, emphasizing on the BIG picture. Several chapters are spent on the idea that the reason we think of our suffering as we do, is because we are focused only on ourselves and our immediate circumstances. Using Romans 8:28 as home base, R.C.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Zartman on April 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Our culture ignores and/or marginalizes grief, trauma, and suffering. We tell people to "Get over it!" and we expect to bounce back from trauma in a week or two. I appreciated the first 45 pages of this book where Dr. Sproul discusses the good that can come from suffering. However, he changes gears on page 47 to give a presentation of the gospel in a discussion of death, and focused on death and heaven for the remaining 100 pages. I chose not to continue when he started to discuss Plato and the ancient Greek teachings on the afterlife after a short discussion of Doris Day's song "Que Sera Sera." The attitude toward the reader felt condescending, like he thought we all just needed to go back to elementary teaching on how to understand salvation--what Paul calls "milk." I wanted meat and a cursory examination of the remainder of the book convinced me that I wouldn't find it in this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tim Challies TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Blogs often have a living quality to them, where an author picks up older content, improves it, and posts it again. I've been known to do this and have seen plenty of other bloggers do the same. And why not, really. The medium lends itself well to that kind of change and growth and evolution. Occasionally those who write books have the opportunity to do the same thing, to take an older book, improve it, add to it, and print it again. Such is the case with R.C. Sproul's Surprised by Suffering. First released by Tyndale House in 1988, it has subsequently be expanded and re-released by Reformation Trust, typically a sign that the rights to the book had reverted back to the author.

Surprised by Suffering deals with "The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life" (according to the subtitle). And it deals with it well. Sproul wants the reader to know that, though death is a foreign state to humanity, one that came about only by the fall into sin, it is nonetheless inevitable and something that God expects us to do well. "Death is unnatural. It may be natural to fallen man, but it was not natural to man as he was created. Man was not created to die. He was created with the possibility of death, but not with the necessity of death. Death was introduced as a consequence of sin. If there had been no sin, there would be no death. But when sin entered, the curse of the fall was added. All suffering and death flow out of the complex of sin."

Here Sproul writes about a wide variety of topics relating to suffering and death, with the first half of the book looking at life leading up to death and the second half looking at life after death. A book that is pastoral in its tone, Sproul offers hope to the Christian as he faces the inevitability of suffering and dying.
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More About the Author

Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education ministry located near Orlando, Fla. He is also co-pastor of Saint Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. He can be heard on the radio program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and around the world, and on RefNet 24-hour Christian internet radio. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than ninety books, including The Holiness of God, Faith Alone, and Everyone's a Theologian. He also serves as general editor of The Reformation Study Bible.

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