There is no doubt that suffering is one of the hardest topics there are to think and talk about. It is a subject that makes us uncomfortable and many times we want to avoid it. In the Christian's life, however, this subject is one that should be seriously pondered upon. As witnesses of light to a darkened world it is important that we know what God has said in His Word about this subject. Many non-Christians (and some Christians) struggle with the question of why a loving and all-powerful God would "allow" suffering to occur on the earth and this is one reason why some people reject the Gospel. Christians should be knowledgeable about what the Bible says on this topic in order to proclaim God`s truth revealed to us in His Scripture and in order to be strong witnesses who are pleasing to Him. In addition, it is important that Christians know what God has said about suffering in His Word because He wants us to know about it: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."--2 Timothy 3:16-17. Not knowing what He has revealed to us in Scripture about this topic is crippling to a Christian's faith and leaves us unprepared for trials, persecutions and sufferings.
This book is wonderful and challenging. At the beginning of the book, MacArthur writes about how suffering is in the plan of God (Isaiah 45:7, see also Deuteronomy 32:39, 1 Samuel 2: 6-8 ) and he provides several reasons why He sends trials, sufferings and persecutions into our lives. Some of these reasons include:
1. To test the validity of what believers profess.
2. To test the strength of our faith.
3. To humble us.
4. To wean us away from worldly things.
5. To call us to a greater realization of our eternal hope.
6. To show us what we really love.
7. To teach us to value the blessing of God.
8. To enable us to help others in their suffering (empathy).
9. To develop us in enduring strength for greater usefulness.
He states that God will give believers what they need to get through every suffering, persecution, etc. by His Spirit and His Word. He provides commentary about believers in the Bible who served as wonderful examples for how we should deal with persecutions and sufferings in this life. He also writes about Christ's own example that has been left for us, preparing for suffering, dealing with suffering, and the lessons from suffering. MacArthur boldly proclaims the truth that God is more concerned about our growth in Him rather than our temporal happiness on this earth. The Lord sends sufferings into our lives to sharpen us and prepare us for the world to come (Psalm 66:10--"For Thou hast tried us, O God; Thou hast refined us as silver is refined."). This is a wonderful book that is sure to challenge your faith and well-equip you for future sufferings and trials that are inevitable to come in this life.