Subscribe now

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
Buy this book »

Book Review

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


Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Christian and Technology
John V. Fesko

Even the most hardened Luddite will find himself using a satnav, mobile phone, or email on occasion. But John Fesko urges us not to reach for the latest gadget without thinking carefully about how it might shape our minds, relationships,…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Christ Victorious: Selected Writings of Hugh Martin
Hugh Martin

Hugh Martin (1822–1885) was one of those 19th century Scottish theologians whose published works have stood the test of time. With good reason, for his works are consistently sound, reverent, edifying, and challenging to mind and heart. This is a…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
God’s design for women in an age of gender confusion
Sharon James

Is our belief in male headship culturally outdated, and should we see alternative ideas of marriage as ‘progress’? Is it possible to be born into the wrong body, and is sexual freedom good for women? Does Scripture show us a…

Sexuality and Identity (trilogy)
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Sexuality and Identity (trilogy)
Owen Strachan

These three punchy books address pressing issues: what the Bible teaches about lust (on desire), about homosexuality (on Biblical sexuality) and about transgenderism (on identity). The trilogy approach keeps each book short and focused while dovetailing effectively. Each book has…