If you want a book that fundamentally explains a correct theology of suffering, that should renew your mind and therefore your heart and soul during the trials of this life, buy this book!
Before I get into the book itself I would like to give the appropriate disclosure that the book was provided by Mathias Media in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review. I intend to do just that, albeit briefly. So do this ministry a favor and if I intrigue you enough to purchase, do so from their website-click on the picture to the left, they are from my estimation a wonderful group of humble Christians who have done the Church a great service.
In order to set the stage for the book and my ability to review the material with any credible authority, I feel it is important for me to confess my exposure to suffering in general. One of the beautiful things about this book in comparison to its peers in the topic of suffering, is that it seems to speak more directly to the topic of suffering as a Christian in light of two things: 1) A modern worldview that if God is God and God is good, then why do his people suffer at all? and 2) Suffering for Christ’s sake, in other words, Christian persecution.
On that note, I cannot with any honesty confess that I have been persecuted directly for my faith in any manner similar to the Apostles or martyrs and historic heroes of the faith like Martin Luther, or even the Puritan Pilgrims who left England in pursuit of their compulsion to freely worship. So to that I will give little comment as I am not in a position to argue based on anything except history and the Scriptures.
However, I can speak for an eternity on the topic of personal suffering and experience of pain. I battle daily with pain from nerve damage. Even worse, I have been scared that my child possibly had a terminal illness, I have witnessed my wife being wheeled into the operating room in order to correct a heart malfunction that had already threatened to take her life several times before. I have witnessed an honest man be falsely accused and his family be torn to shreds by public mockery and I have uncovered the remains of fallen brothers in arms on the battlefield. I have as much reason to doubt the existence of a good God as anyone, but by the grace of God alone I do not. Paul Grimmond, in this work, does an outstanding job outlining why Christians across the globe and in centuries past have not as well.
In God’s kind providence, my church has been going through a series in Job this summer, we have seen some of the similar topics explained and exposited in scripture that Grimmond shows us. What makes Grimmond’s work exceptionally helpful is the careful attention he gives to a proper view of God, and a proper worldview as it pertains to the purpose of life, the standard of morality and thereby the problem of suffering as it is perceived by those with an incorrect view of God’s sovereign control and intent in suffering and by those who understand that God does allow suffering in order to draw his people closer to him in faith and dependence upon his providence in their lives.
He responds correctly and logically after illustrating the common flawed worldviews of humanist and atheist understandings of God and suffering with biblical illustrations that counter their views which aim to clarify the true purpose in Christian suffering.
We see in the third chapter several examples showing that in our suffering we have a prime opportunity to show the world how God is our source of all hope, power, perseverance and righteousness. In our suffering we have the glorious opportunity to be brought to our knees in worship and submission before the perfect justice of a holy Creator God so that we might have the opportunity to have our self righteousness and self sufficiency revealed for what it is, that is, a damnable verdict of pride and idolatry before our God, Creator and Judge before it is too late.
As we moved into the fourth chapter we start to really see the proposition of the biblical answer to suffering put together. I think this is where Grimmond goes in for the kill..driving his point home methodically. But Why? That is the nature of the chapter and he answers it just as God did in scripture. It is all for the glory of His name. I even love how he predicts the reader’s hesitation to accept that answer and then responds with scripture again…”but who are you o man…?” And then the final blow to the folly of human logic. God himself is not only involved in our suffering, but he himself suffered.
I could end the review here and be justified in saying the book is worth the read, unlike other books on the same topic, which i have read at least ten of them, Grimmond disassembles the worldview of the prideful enlightened man and juxtaposes with what I call “a biblical logical paradox”. It only makes sense in scripture, because the world is backwards, not scripture.
Now we have the remaining chapters which I foresee a some readers wanting to skip ahead towards. Those are the chapters on suffering in general as a Christian, the predictable surprise as a human in this fallen world, and the suffering as Christian for the fame of Christ’s name, which is persecution. These are identified separately, rightly so. As I mentioned above I don’t have much experience in the persecution for Christ, but general suffering I understood, so I was grateful for the differentiation, I think it was an important clarification to make.
I could go on more on the specific details of suffering in persecution as well as during pain and suffering in this life, but I think my review hits home. If you want a book that fundamentally explains a correct theology of suffering, that should renew your mind and therefore your heart and soul during the trials of this life, buy this book! There is no greater read that is accessible to all reading levels that explains the correct approach to the bibles view of suffering and clarifies where the world has it all wrong.