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Here’s a quick summary of a helpful book on suffering. A topic we will all face.

Carson’s work addresses the painful topic of suffering with pastoral sensitivity as well as theological accuracy, which regrettably is a rare find. His pastoral sensitivity comes from his willingness to acknowledge that the topic of suffering is bound up with mystery. He does not claim to have an answer for every occurrence of suffering, neither does he revert to simplistic systems that attribute suffering directly to personal sin, or a lack of faith. Carson offers comfort to sufferers by reminding them that God himself knows suffering, for he gave his only Son to die in the place of sinners (Ch. 10). Carson’s observations concerning the cross offer biblical comfort to Christians. He shows that the Christian who suffers has a Father who has suffered in offering his Son as a propitiation for sin.

Yet Carson does not offer sentimental mush to sufferers, rather he extends a theologically rooted vision of suffering. God is sovereign over all things, and although people are morally responsible they do not function in a way that binds God’s hands. God often has hidden purposes for human suffering. Carson does not claim that personal suffering is directly tied to one’s personal sin, yet he makes clear that suffering is a result of human sinfulness. Indeed, the vision of the Christian life is one of unique forms of suffering, and those who lead in the Christian life may experience greater suffering. These biblical themes may not grant instant relief to the sharp pain of suffering, but they provide a foundation for Christians to stand on, in order to endure suffering with hope and stability.

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