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Tested by Fire: The Fruit of Suffering in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper and David Brainerd. (The Swans Are Not Silent #2)

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  539 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews

Bunyan. Cowper. Brainerd.

We read their stories and wonder how they endured. How does one survive twelve years in a dank prison cell? How does one survive month after month of a depression so debilitating that death seems the only hope? How does one endure tuberculosis? Or cancer, or emptiness, or death, or loneliness, or divorce? Whatever the trial may be, how does one

Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by InterVarsity Press (first published 2001)
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Jan 10, 2015 Trisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. So much here to encourage the soul that is downcast, to help comfort the hurting, to remind us that here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.
David Gregg
All of Piper's biographical sketches are pearl. The conference version is available for streaming or download as MP3 for free at the Desiring God website.
Hank Pharis
For the life of me I can't understand how someone can be a Christian and not love church history. The stories of how God has worked in the lives of our forefathers are always interesting, instructive, challenging and encouraging. John Piper has done the church a great service by writing his various biographical collections. But the blessing is not so much in recounting their stories. There are several good biographies of most of these people
already available. The strength of Piper's books are th
Natalie Wickham
Three short biographical sketches are packed with poignant stories and quotes from the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd. I was familiar with two of the men, but learned a great deal about them and the reality of their struggles from this short book. Here are a few thoughts from or pertaining to each of them:

“Let me beg of thee, that thou wilt not be offended either with god, or men, if the cross is laid heavy upon thee. Not with God, for he doth nothing without a cause, n
Dec 09, 2007 Joel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three essays on the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd. The common theme is suffering, and how specifically Christians suffer. One of the beautiful things about the church is that not only are there people we walk with now through life, but there are people both behind and before us. These "behind us" Christians are guides to which we can turn in times of trouble and be reminded that if God kept His promises to them even through their suffering, He will surely keep His prom ...more
May 05, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book covers three men of faith: John Bunyan, William Cowper and David Brainerd. Before reading this, I was already quite familiar with 2 out of 3, because I've read John Bunyan's autobiography, "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners" and Brainerd's "Life and Diary of David Brainerd". While I was not as familiar with William Cowper, his constant depression and suicidal tendencies were familiar themes.

This book provided an excellent overview of all three of these men. John Bunyan spent over
Jul 28, 2010 Vaughn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second in a series of books called “The Swans are Not Silent.” In it, the reader is met with biographical accounts of three men: John Bunyan, William Cowper (pronounced Cooper), and David Brainerd. Their lives are intertwined by the thread of suffering for the Kingdom of Christ.

Though each was called to suffer in different ways, each saw his suffering as God-ordained and orchestrated. As a result, the fruit of their suffering continues to this day! Let this serve as a much needed re
Aug 14, 2010 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biographical sketches of John Bunyan, William Cowper & David Brainerd. Reading of their sufferings & joy in Christ was inspiring. It made me want to read more about these men, especially Cowper & Brainerd neither of whom I was very familiar with before.

Random bit of information - Cowper wrote the poem "The Castaway" that Marianne (Kate Winslet) makes Edward Ferrars read aloud in "Sense & Sensibility". - "No voice divine the storm allayed, no light propitious shone; when
Jun 06, 2013 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an absolute necessity for anyone suffering in the Christian life—or for any Christian at all. John Piper writes three short biographies about three men—John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd—that are both captivating and encouraging. The way Piper encapsulates their stories, drawing out the ways they suffered, the lessons they learned, and the fruit of their afflictions is enlightening, encouraging, and comforting. It is definitely worth your time to invest in this volume.
Matt Friedman
Jul 25, 2011 Matt Friedman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderfully encouraging and deep book about the lives of three of God's precious, though not flawless, heroes. Each gives the reader a taste of the life of one of those outlined, potentially serving as a doorway to further exploration in each case. Certainly the life of Brainerd, one of the most influential published journals in Christians and mission history, is worthwhile among these. Piper also admirably and beautifully ties these together with a brief epilogue of sorts at the concl ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian, biography
This book is extremely encouraging. It shows how each man, dealing with a completely different affliction, was able to continue in the good fight through God's grace. This does not mean that things got rosy after the trial in every case. In Buynan's case, he did get out of prison. But for Cowper and Brainerd, theirs did not end until they found themselves in the presence of God. So, Piper takes these life stories and weaves through them a high view of God's sovereign and merciful hand on each li ...more
Mar 20, 2016 T rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Three beautiful lives that encouraged me tremendously. I hope that I have the resolve of Bunyan to suffer as needed and the passion of Brainerd to seek God's glory among those who don't know it regardless the cost. This book was worth every minute spent reading and thinking about its content. To think I am the age that Brainerd was when he died, by modern standards I have done much with my life, but then I look to men like Brainerd and hope for the faith to be spent in gladness for His name sake ...more
Anthony Alvarado
Ended up being close to my favorite out this "The Swans Are Not Silent" series, which surprised me. Bunyan's life is tremendous. Brainerd's life is motivating. Cowper's life throws me out of my traditional boxes that I can put people in. This entire series is well worth reading and this one in particular gives you a picture of suffering, especially suffering for which there seems to be absolutely no reason.
Apr 06, 2014 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great series! This is the third of the "Swans are not Silent"books that I have read. Piper has written 5, I believe, and I do look forward to seeing the spiritual encouragement and truths that he will bring out of the lives of the other "Heroes of the Faith" that he writes about. His choice to focus on Bunyan, Cowper and David Brainerd in this volume was interesting. Bunyan's determination, Cowper's depression and Brainerd's sickness make for a challenge that none of us can escape.
This book has a good message, but is somewhat difficult to read. Through suffering Bunyan gave us The Pilgram's Progress and other works of edification, Cowper gave us great hymns of solace, and Brainerd reached many native Americans for Christ and inspired many for missions. Most Americans have lost the art and joy of suffering for Christ.
Three men who suffered tremendously in different ways, but found deep joy in Christ. I find myself inspired and challenged to engage with the Christian idea of dying with Jesus, keeping our eyes on eternal things and (in relative terms) hating our lives in this world. Again, Piper delivers an awesome read. Short, too!
Apr 30, 2008 Ilona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The path to everlasting joy in God leads up the Hill Difficulty(John Bunyan), with deep & joyful worship(William Cowper), into an unreached world of pereshing sinners(David Brainerd), where the repentance of one soul set the angels of God to sing."

The pebble has been dropped into the water and the wripple affect has not ceased.
Clara Roberts
Oct 01, 2012 Clara Roberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book covered the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd. I did not realize that Brainerd and Cowper suffered from deep depression during most of their lives. They were each successful in the task to which they were called. Each of the three men had major health issues. Bunyan was blind and Brainerd suffered from TB.
Allen Tsai
Apr 25, 2016 Allen Tsai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Drawn to the book because I wanted to read about William Cowper. Challenged to see how much growth is fortified through the crucible of affliction. The gospel is made all the more precious through trials and tribulations.
Jan 14, 2015 Darsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You would think by the title that this book would be a downer. On the contrary, it has to go down as one encouraging on I've come across in a long time. I read every chapter twice, it's that good! Can't wait to get my hands on one of the other books in the series :)
Aug 30, 2012 Kristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this series is my favorite set of books by John Piper, though I've read quite a few of his books. This particular book is encouraging because it shows faith even in discouragement and depression, as in the case of David Brainerd.
Kevin McCarthy
Mar 29, 2016 Kevin McCarthy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Encouraged once again. This one is about suffering of various kinds. Piper chose some gritty saints for the book, some of whom experienced a great deal of darkness and disbelief. It gives hope to those of us who don't always find that belief and obedience come easily.
Feb 04, 2009 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Piper does a nice job of highlighting the lives of these men and explaining why these men still have a profound effect on Christians today. Wonderfully concise biographies about men that a lot of us don't know too much about. Good stuff.
Dec 15, 2007 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Piper covers John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd in this book. His description of Bunyan was so encouraging that I read Pilgrim’s Progress immediately afterwards and was totally blessed! The other sections were on the dry side.
Jul 25, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Biographies are encouraging, inspiring Christians of the past are encouraging, John Piper is encouraging... All of which makes this a winner. The stories of the hardships suffered by these guys really give me perspective on my own life and my own insignificant hardships.
Sep 01, 2008 Kendra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book; it's definitely one of my very favorites! It's so full of insights and hope. And it emphasizes the sovereignty and goodness of God in all sorts of difficulty and suffering.

Delightful, just delightful. Some rich history and faithfulness found in these pages. So thankful that I picked up this book and read it.
Sep 03, 2007 Wade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church-history
A solid and easy to read biography on the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper and David Brainerd. Showing their theology and their life struggles how that deeply applies to our lives today.
Aug 02, 2016 Becca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This reads easier than other Piper books I've read, but it doesn't sacrifice any depth. Especially good for anyone wanting to understand God's sovereignty in our suffering.
High Pointe Baptist Church
Book 2 in Piper's outstanding biography series: the fruit of affliction in the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd
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John Piper is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethe
More about John Piper...

Other Books in the Series

The Swans Are Not Silent (7 books)
  • The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (The Swans Are Not Silent, #1)
  • The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (Swans Are Not Silent, #3)
  • Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen  (The Swans Are Not Silent, #4)
  • Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (The Swans Are Not Silent #5)
  • Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis (The Swans Are Not Silent #6)
  • A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, and Hudson Taylor (The Swans Are Not Silent #7)

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“Suffering in the path of Christian obedience, with joy - because the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life (Psalm 63:3) - is the clearest display of the worth of God in our lives. Therefore, faith-filled suffering is essential in this world for the most intense, authentic worship. When we are most satisfied with God in suffering, he will be most glorified in us in worship. Our problem is not styles of music. Our problem is styles of life. When we embrace more affliction for the worth of Christ, there will be more fruit in the worship of Christ.” 74 likes
“Life is too precious to squander on trivial things. Grant us, Lord, the unswerving resolve to pray and live with David Brainerd's urgency: "Oh, that I might never loiter on my heavenly journey!” 1 likes
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