Tuesday, June 11, 2013

10 Books that Shaped My Theology of Suffering

In Torn to Heal I encourage readers to develop a robust theology of suffering and to not be surprised to have to use it. This language comes from Peter’s exhortation in 1 Peter 4. As I’ve sought to obey Peter’s exhortation I’ve found a few books very helpful in this quest.

Certainly the Scriptures are the most helpful. If our theology of suffering doesn’t match up to Scripture then it isn’t worth much. There have also been a few other books that have helped me greatly:

  1. D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? provides a biblical and theological framework for understanding suffering and evil. If you want a book that is a little more intellectual to help you think through issues related to human suffering then this is your book.
  2. Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, absolutely broke me and healed me at the same time. Sibbes has a way of opening up wounds and then pouring the gospel in.
  3. Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, is the reflections of a man that is suffering and struggling with unwanted sexual desires. More than many others this book helped me see how the gospel not only heals us but it also afflicts our fallen inclinations.
  4. Randy Alcorn, The Goodness of God, is a helpful little book that really shines in giving anecdotes and illustrations to give life to a book like D.A. Carson’s. I owe a great deal to Carson in providing the framework for my theology of suffering. But I owe a great debt to Alcorn in helping me put words to that framework.
  5. John Piper, Desiring God, along with many other works from Piper were influential in laying a God-centered foundation of a theology of suffering
  6. Christopher J.H. Wright, The God I Don’t Understand, gave me permission to be comfortable with mystery and questions that remain unanswered.
  7. Samuel Rutherford, Letters of Rutherford, was used by God several years ago to awaken in me a desire to value Christ above comfort. Reading the passionate letters written from prison by this man of God caused me to question my own devotion to Christ.
  8. William Bridge, A Lifting Up for the Downcast, has been personally beneficial in my own battle with depression and discouragement. He not only diagnosis the reason for our depressive episodes but provides sweet counsel.
  9. David Murray, Christians Get Depressed Too, put words to my developing thoughts that things like suffering/depression can still be used for God’s glory.
  10. Robert M. McCheyne, Memoirs and Remains, modeled for me what humble brokenness looks like. His dedication to Jesus assisted me in thinking through the trials that come with mission and ministry.

If you want to develop a theology of suffering I would suggest getting these 10 books. (Of course I’d also be honored for you to give my book a read as well).

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