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Christian’s pocket guide to suffering

By Brian H Cosby
March 2016 | Review by Matthew Cox
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-78191-646-9
  • Pages: 86
  • Price: 4.99
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Brian Cosby’s short volume does what it says on the cover, providing a brief summary of the Bible’s teaching on suffering and pain. Much information is packed into a small number of pages, all of it from a sound, God-centred theological position.

An entire chapter is spent demonstrating how suffering is the result of the Fall. Another examines the character of God, focussing on his goodness, sovereignty and omnipresence.

Cosby is bold enough to give a straight answer to a straight question: ‘Yes, God powerfully, authoritatively, decretally and effectually ordains suffering’ (p.25). He then lists five reasons why God brings trials into his people’s lives, and seven ‘active responses’ which they should undertake at such times.

Each statement leads the Christian to see more of the glory of God, and to seek to glorify him in all circumstances.  Cosby offers wise advice along the way: a warning not to over-analyse God’s providence and assign specific purposes to it beyond our knowledge. He calls us to balance truth and love sensitively when ministering to sufferers; and encourages attendance at the means of grace, all the more diligently during times of hardship.

This is a readable and reliable addition to the Pocket Guide series, yet overall it is not entirely satisfying. It states theological truth accurately, but comes across as lecture-like, and dealing with the subject in theoretical and abstract terms that are not applied immediately to real-life experience.

As a result, it does not convey the warmth of pastoral comfort which a struggling Christian reader might be looking for. It is likely that other books on this topic would be more helpful in that regard, but judged on its own terms, this book does achieve its stated aim adequately.

Matthew Cox


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