A Theology of Suffering
What if suffering were not arbitrary? Not meaningless, nor a sign of punishment or defeat, but a fundamental element of healing, growth, and triumph? What if suffering were positive?
This book is a study and meditation on the nature, origin, and reality of suffering. Contemplating the suffering of Christ and other biblical figures, J. Bryson Arthur investigates a theology of suffering that testifies to its necessity within the plan of God. Bryson reminds us that the nature of suffering is to share fellowship with Christ – to take up one’s cross and follow him. Thus, suffering is not arbitrary but intrinsic to the path God has laid before our feet: a path leading to restoration, wholeness, and fullness of life.
An important resource for students of theology, this is also a powerful and hopeful read for anyone seeking meaning in the midst of suffering.
Dr Arthur profitably probes the nature of suffering and offers guidance on how faithful Christians, like those before us in biblical times, are called to respond in situations of personal suffering. He guides us by these theological mediations to think biblically about our suffering and to encourage us onward towards even rejoicing in our suffering. This book is a helpful guide for every believer who wants to reflect theologically about this subject, and who needs the reassurance of God’s gracious purpose in allowing us to suffer.
Rev Brian DeVries, PhD
Principal, Mukhanyo Theological College, South Africa
This is a thought-provoking book on one of the most difficult topics to ever have concerned the church universal – suffering. Arthur ably draws on theological and biblical resources to provide new insights which will be of interest to many.
Rev Duane Alexander Miller, PhD
Associate Professor, Protestant Faculty of Theology,
Theological Seminary of UEBE, Madrid, Spain
This book explores various meanings, nature, and types of suffering, noting that God uses deserved suffering, undeserved suffering and inner suffering to convict us of our sins, to refine us, to reposition us and to lead us to another level and direction of physical and spiritual life.
Rev Willie Zeze, DTh
Head of BTh Programme, Ecclesiastical Science Lecturer,
Mukhanyo Theological College, KwaMhlanga, South Africa
Dr Arthur gives us a theology of hope which highlights the importance of a biblical theocentric thinking because it does not culminate in the Christevent but in the actualization of God’s sovereignty and triumph. He writes with rigour and passion. Here we have a theologian who takes seriously the words of Christ: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).
Rev Gerishon M. Kirika, PhD
Professor of Theology in Old Testament,
The Presbyterian University of East Africa, Kenya
Bryson Arthur has written what will be the standard work on suffering for theological thinkers. It is learned, deep and profound. It is also passionate about biblical truth and spiritual realities. This book is pure gold, towering over the many books on this subject.
Rev Phil Hill
Baptist Pastor and Professional Counsellor
Former Pastoral Dean, Union School of Theology, Wales
While pain and suffering are a part of human existence, Arthur encourages the believer with the theological stance that suffering is a process that increases meaning in life. While suffering is never sought, Arthur creates a balm with his theological stance that it begets an increased capacity to know the glory of God.
Rev Azar Ajaj
Principal, Nazareth Theological College, Nazareth, Israel
Table of Contents
- Part 1: The Nature of Suffering
- The Fall and Human Suffering
- Creation and Human Suffering
- Types of Suffering
- Undeserved Suffering; Meaning, Hope, Healing and Forgiveness
- The Inner Pain of Angst
- The Solution to Angst
- Part 2: The Suffering of Biblical Figures
- The Suffering of Job
- The Suffering of Jesus
- The Suffering of God
- The Suffering of the Apostle Paul
- The Suffering of the Church: Persecution
- Part 3: Trauma and Triumph
- The Roots of Human Conflict
- The Dialectic of Difference and Similarity
- The Triumph of Faith and Glory
- Recommended Further Reading