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Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  327 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Suffering often seems to catch us by surprise. One day we are healthy, comfortable, and happy. The next we find ourselves ill or injured, struggling, and distraught. The pain that invades our lives may come from our own suffering or that of a loved one. But no matter the source, we didn't see it coming. All too often, our perplexity prompts us to suspect God of wrongdoing. ...more
Hardcover, 156 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Reformation Trust Publishing (first published April 1st 1989)
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Keiki Hendrix
Oct 23, 2010 Keiki Hendrix rated it it was amazing
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 thi
Mar 29, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
I keep hearing about, and seeing, books that imply(or directly state) that suffering in the life of a Christian is abnormal. Actually, suffering is one of the most normal things in the life of a Christian. That suffering may be physical(persecution, disease, handicap, etc...) or mental(caused by self-denial, struggles to keep focused, slaying of lusts..etc.), but it certainly isn't strange. Peter writes to the Churches, "Dear friends, do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal that is taking place ...more
Mar 22, 2012 Joseph rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
It was okay.

Good, not great. Nothing particularly problematic. A few times the exegesis was questionable, but generally it wasn't in regards to anything core. It felt like it had less to do with dealing with suffering and how a Christian should handle it, and more just about how Jesus is Lord and we are going to Heaven. The bulk of it is spent on discussing the resurrection (in detail), Heaven, eternal life, and stuff like that which is relevant to the topic of suffering, but largely secondary i
Mar 17, 2016 Micah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
My first R.C Sproul book and I forgot to mention that this won't be the first and last of his book that I will read. He opened my heart to dig deeper throught the corners of my faith. He planted in my eyes the very vision and future glory that every child of God is waiting for.

This book is very particular about suffering and every questions you can have about it, heaven and hell, pain and death, life after death even the real score about where the animals will go, if a communication with a dead
Surprised by Suffering was a surprisingly interesting and easy to read book. So many times, at least in my experience, books like this can be dry and dull...but not this one. I fully enjoyed reading it and believe it's one I'll be rereading. Completely recommend this book.
Matthew Young
Jan 05, 2017 Matthew Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

Loved this book. Dr. Sproul is a great writer and he knows his subject matter very well. I highly recommend this book for those looking for meaning behind the hard parts of life.
Aaron Cerda
Apr 15, 2015 Aaron Cerda rated it it was amazing
When I first started showing signs of my neuro-degenerative disease, I spent a lot of time writing about my experience with suffering. I haven’t written anything on the topic for many years. Partly because life happens and time to sit down and write is costly. However, I’ve also come to believe that, though my thoughts at the time were sincere, they were a bit misguided. I allowed my experience with suffering to consume me and although I wouldn't have said it at the time, my theology of sufferin ...more
Dec 22, 2014 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent insights into suffering from a biblical world view

As someone who lives with suffering and chronic illness, this book is a balm. The Christian church, as a whole, is missing this message. For too many years Christianity has been sold and packaged as the answer to what ails us. Accept Christ, they say, and life will be perfect. Christ is, indeed, the answer, but the question isn't who will remove me from this situation and make life rosy again, but rather who will walk though this fire w
Jeff McCormack
Overall, a very pleasant book. Read it in hope of relieving some of my grief over the past 10 months. It helped a little. Had some good practical information.

I kind of got bummed at chapter nine when he got off track, as is common in conservative and especially Reformed circles, from the proper Jewish view of death, and the intermediate state. He totally dropped the ball in calling the intermediate state (also called Paradise in the NT) as the presence of our souls in heaven awaiting the resurre
Amanda Emerson
Feb 14, 2016 Amanda Emerson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been on my bookshelf for the past few years. I can't remember exactly why I purchased the book but I do know that it is a book I have been putting off. I knew when I saw it last month on my shelf that I needed to read it. I am so thankful that I did. The past few months in my own life have been difficult. My family and I have been walking a difficult road as we wrestle with my daughter's chiari as well as other things which are beyond the scope of sharing. I have also had a heart t ...more
Rick Perez
Jun 07, 2015 Rick Perez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Theologically rich review and commentary on the themes of Suffering, Pain & Death...I remembered reading the book many years...Found it discounted on Amazon...I am glad I re-read it...Being older, having young adult children and having gone through some "valley" experiences in my life, the themes discussed in the book had a greater impact this time around. Although the topics discussed are "somber" realities and reminders of life, as a Believer I found the entire book very "encouraging" and ...more
Oct 26, 2010 K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved R.C. Sprouls' sermons of the same title but the book left me disappointed. Only a portion of the book dealt with suffering here on earth. The rest of the book dealt with what happens after we die and the promise of heaven. I have never found "the promise of heaven" to be much comfort in my times of great trial. It is so far off and heaven is such a mystery, it is hard to take comfort. The best part of the book, and his sermons, were dealing with the "vocation of suffering." We all suffer ...more
William Kriner
Dec 03, 2014 William Kriner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Outstanding. Sproul's treatment of the subject of suffering is Reformed and Biblical as well as winsome. He does not shrink from the difficulty of the subject and his examples from his life and others he has ministered to are beneficial. In a genre where there are syrupy platitudes or stoic alternatives presented, Sproul's approach is hopeful and worth the time of those who take seriously the need for a Christian response to suffering.
Mark A Powell
Although Sproul addresses the issue of suffering, the focus of the book drifts more toward a consideration of death and the afterlife (a worthy topic, to be sure, but potentially misleading from the title). While his theology is sound, the moments where he relates his personal interactions with those who are suffering—as well as his own difficult times—jolt the reader from thinking this a merely academic exercise. A respectable, entry-level look at these themes.
Ryan Summers
Mar 01, 2014 Ryan Summers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clear, straightforward insight to why suffering enters our lives. It shakes away the notion that we should be exempt from such pain and reassures us that it is to be both expected and respected. Glad I read it. Pages are dog-eared for later reference when I need that reminder that this is normal and shall pass.
Patricia C Robbins
Our God is Faithful

God is great and awesome, worthy of our praise. Our present sufferings will never compare to the future glories that God will share with us. We need the Lord's discernment to see the world as it truly is. He is more than able to keep that which we have committed to Him. Go ahead, He will never forsake His own.
Regina Ripamonti
Jan 26, 2012 Regina Ripamonti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A careful, biblical approach which deals with the role that suffering plays in the life of the Christian. Strong counter to the health-wealth-prosperity teaching that is so prevalent today. The second half of the book is about heaven and why we need to have our hearts set on eternity. I found this book very helpful.
Oct 09, 2011 Deanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My favorite chapter in this book was the one on Heaven; it's the last chapter. I appreciate RC Sproul's willingness to articulate his opinion on a given issue and then substantially support that opinion. I admire people who do that, even if I don't agree with their views. This book was a tad dry and long, but overall, a fair read.
Doutor Branco
Sep 19, 2014 Doutor Branco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lidos-em-2014
It is a great book, short, but with enough information to convey what it purposed to. Sproul has been always a fabulous theologian to understand. I would highlight the discussion on euthanasia as a very important subject that required more substantial material on this topic addressing it in a theological, philosophical and ethical perspective.
Sep 07, 2014 Logan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good treatment of suffering in general and the hope that believers have. Ultimately it rests in God's sovereignty and the trust that we have that all things ultimately work to our good and his glory.
Joel Zaldivar Aguilar
Dr. Sproul as always managed to explain difficult and sensitive subjects with solid biblical counsel. I read this book to provide comfort and truth for my loved ones and even to myself when undergoing suffering, pain and trials. Definitely worth reading!
Jan 16, 2013 Abbí rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am continually impressed with Sproul's knack for examining every detail of each subject that he writes on. No area pertaining to each subject is ever left out, and Surprised by Suffering was no exception. Excellent book.
Romans Sendriks
The beginning chapters are OK, but the rest of the book does not communicate the tittle pretty well! Some Bible passage context are misused. Especially when the author describes the heaven he does go in the depth of it
Oct 04, 2011 Richard rated it really liked it
I found this to be an enlightening look at suffering from a carefully biblical view. I appreciated Sproul's ability to take a difficult subject and make it accessible to every reader. It's an excellent resource to have to help others and yourself.
Oct 14, 2014 Tania rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i was very curious for trying to understand the point of view of the author. then he made thefirst mistake, wich was trying to mark differences between christian religions when he compare catholic and other denomination religion. after he comitted this mistake i lose interest.
John Carroll
Mar 12, 2014 John Carroll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable. Very biblical. Addresses with clarity the perennial question of why believers in God suffer. This has become a resource for my Sunday School class on the subject of Suffering and Contentment.
May 29, 2016 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surprised by Suffering was a great read! I found myself saying "so true!" a lot while reading. I appreciated how even when the topic wasn't easy, Sproul still spoke the truth.

Definitely recommend!
Jul 05, 2012 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really helpful book. Incredibly informative and well written. However, it's very textbookish and not an easy read in sections.

Definitely worth your time as long as you don't expect a quick read.
Jan 07, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I honestly was surprised by this book! Answered many questions I had about death. I recommend this to EVERYONE!
Matt Crawford
Dec 09, 2015 Matt Crawford rated it really liked it
I expected more of a discussion on the origin of suffering and evil but it is still an excellent read. More devotional that academic.
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Dr. R.C. Sproul was born in 1939 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He is president of Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and the founder and chairman of the ministry that began in 1971 as the Ligonier Valley Study Center in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. In an effort to respond more effectively to the growing demand for Dr. Sproul’s teachings and the ministry’s other educational resources, th ...more
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“There are times when we suffer innocently at other people’s hands. When that occurs, we are victims of injustice. But that injustice happens on a horizontal plane. No one ever suffers injustice on the vertical plane. That is, no one ever suffers unjustly in terms of his or her relationship with God. As long as we bear the guilt of sin, we cannot protest that God is unjust in allowing us to suffer.” 22 likes
“When God issues a call to us, it is always a holy call. The vocation of dying is a sacred vocation. To understand that is one of the most important lessons a Christian can ever learn. When the summons comes, we can respond in many ways. We can become angry, bitter or terrified. But if we see it as a call from God and not a threat from Satan, we are far more prepared to cope with its difficulties.” 14 likes
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