Suffering and the Sovereignty of God contains essays from John Piper, Stephen F. Saint, Carl F. Ellis Jr., David Powlison, Dustin Shramek, and Joni Eareckson Tada. Each contributor paints a picture of who God is amidst suffering. The book includes three sections to form a mosaic of how God works in human suffering. The first section discusses God's sovereignty in suffering. Next, the authors unpack the purposes of God in suffering. The final three chapters look at God's grace in suffering.
Some of the questions that the authors tackle include:
Most of the chapters in this book come from the 2005 Desiring God National Conference, which shared the same theme as the title.
Albert Mohler notes, "John Piper and friends tackle some of the hardest and most significant issues of Christian concern, producing one of the most honest, faithful, and helpful volumes ever made available to thinking Christians."
Whether a person is in the darkness of suffering or struggling with the latest heartbreaking news, these essays help illuminate hardship while affirming central tenets of who God is.
John Piper, together with several respected Christian leaders, wrote Suffering and the Sovereignty of God to address one of the most challenging questions of our age. How can God be sovereign and good while we still see incredible evil?
The authors invite the reader into an anthology of essays presented at the 2005 Desiring God Conference. The articles represent the best of applied theology derived from lived experience. The reader will experience tough conversations about a good God.
Piper sets the tone for the book with an essay entitled "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God: Ten Aspects of God's Sovereignty over Suffering and Satan's Hand in It." He makes clear that God never loses control.
As Piper was close to completing the book, he and another contributor, David Powlison, were diagnosed with prostate cancer. In light of this news, they added appendices called "Don't Waste Your Cancer."
Numerous books attempt to tackle this complex subject. However, not only do Piper and his colleagues present sound theology on the topic, they do so in such a way that the reader can learn to live in these truths.
“Scripture holds human beings to be acting responsibly when God foreknows what they will choose, and even when it says or implies that God has predestined or foreordained what they will choose.” (Page 50)
“It should be beyond all doubt that no one suffers anything at anyone else’s hand without God having ordained that suffering.” (Page 71)
“In other words, it was not sinful or wrong for Job to claim that God had a sovereign, ordaining hand in these evils. God did not do them; Satan did. But the evils that Satan did, he did only with God’s permission, which the Scriptures themselves imply amounts to God’s foreordination. Satan did these things to harm Job, but God ordained them for his own glory and ultimately for Job’s good.” (Page 64)
“In chapter 3 John Piper argues that the ultimate biblical explanation for the existence of suffering is so that ‘Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering.” (Page 12)
“So open theists insist that God cannot foreknow the future, if humans are to be free and responsible beings” (Page 50)
A collection of experienced authors led by John Piper have contributed to this anthology, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. This book aims to provide an applied theology of suffering; it is not hypothetical.
These authors presented different perspectives on these age-old questions. Through this book, they wrestle with fundamental questions, such as how God's sovereignty relates to Satan's work or human agency, what is the relationship between suffering, sovereignty, and the church, and others. This anthology is for anyone who has been haunted by these questions after facing or witnessing incredible hardship.
The authors do not set out to write an academic tome on suffering; instead, they intend to draw people into profound truths in a careful, convicting, and pastoral way. The introduction summarizes their approach: "While the contributors to this book are all united in their theology of God's sovereignty over suffering, they each approach the topic from a different angle. To use an analogy, there is one diamond, but it can be viewed from multiple perspectives. You don't need to read this book cover to cover. We encourage you to start with a section that addresses your most pressing questions."
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God will help the reader to find comfort even in the most challenging situation.