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

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9781567691849: Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life


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.

In this classic book, republished in a revised and expanded edition, Dr. R. C. Sproul argues that we should not be surprised by suffering; instead, we should expect pain and sorrow in this life. Some are actually called to a "vocation" of suffering, and all of us are called to undergo the ultimate suffering of death. God promises in His Word that difficult times will come upon us, but He also promises that He allows suffering for our good and His glory, and He will never give us more than we can bear with His help.

Dr. Sproul offers solid biblical counsel and comfort for those undergoing suffering and for those who minister to the suffering, counsel that helps believers stand in times of trial with faith in a God who is both loving and good.


  • Suffering, Perplexity, and Despair
  • Walking the Via Dolorosa
  • A Case Study in Suffering
  • Purpose in Suffering
  • The Final Calling
  • Dying in Faith
  • Speculations on Life after Death
  • Jesus and the Afterlife
  • To Die Is Gain
  • A Vision of Things to Come
  • Conclusion


  • Appendix: Questions and Answers
  • Index of Scripture
  • Index of Subjects and Names

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About the Author:

Dr. R. C. Sproul is the founder, chairman and president of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education ministry located near Orlando, Florida. His teaching can be heard on the program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and in 40 countries worldwide. He is the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine and general editor of The Reformation Study Bible, and the author of more than seventy books and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. Dr. Sproul currently serves as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's in Sanford, FL.


It's a real gift to the church when a seasoned theologian, with insights gained from years of personal experience and biblical study, handles a tough topic like suffering. Here you will find the wisdom of biblical perspective combined with the eternal hope of the gospel leading you to greater rest in your Savior, even in times of trouble. I am thankful for the new edition of this book.

--Paul David Tripp: President, Paul Tripp Ministries, Minister to Center City, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pa.; Professor of pastoral life and care, Redeemer Seminary, Dallas , Texas

As an oncologist, I have the privilege of caring for people as they 'walk through the valley of the shadow of death.' In such times, people of faith find themselves faced with the most troubling questions of human existence, namely those raised by suffering and death. In 'Surprised by Suffering' R.C. Sproul concisely and sensitively affirms what I believe to be the three critical truths we need to grasp in order to preserve through suffering and death. First, the inevitable and vocational nature of death/suffering; second, God's sovereign redemptive purposes in suffering; and finally, the certainty of eternal life in perfect fellowship with Him and our fellow believers. I was delighted to learn of this book's republication, and my reading of the manuscript reaffirmed why we do not grieve as those who have no hope.

--James W. Lynch Jr., MD: Professor of medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology; University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Fla.

In Surprised by Suffering, John Calvin meets Florence Nightingale. This is a rare work, a melding of the theologian and the pastor-a book that looks straightforwardly at suffering and teaches, explains, confronts, and comforts. By a dozen, as you will be given this one away to someone who is hurting in the world around.

--John P. Sartelle Sr.: Senior Minister, Tates Creek Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY.

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