Paul David Tripp
Reviewed by: Stephen A. Migotsky
Date posted: 07/21/2019
Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, by Paul David Tripp. Crossway, 2018. Hardcover, 224 pages, $16.75. Reviewed by OP pastor Stephen A. Migotsky.
Paul David Tripp is a careful student of the two ways God has given us to know him, special revelation and general revelation, and this book reflects his study. In special revelation, God reveals us to himself through the written Word, which, if properly interpreted, is infallible. In general revelation, our observations and experiences of the world, if properly interpreted, never conflict but only support special revelation. In times of suffering, however, we may likely have difficulty interpreting both the written Word and our observations and experiences of the world. Suffering, by Paul Tripp, provides a guide.
After earning his doctor of ministry in biblical counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary, Tripp became a faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation and a lecturer in biblical counseling at Westminster. In 2006, he began his own ministry. What motivated Paul Tripp to write this book was his kidney failure and the accompanying physical agonies, permanent disability, financial challenges, and temptations to sin—as well as the transforming power of God’s grace. To his own experiences, he adds the anonymous experiences of his counselees, who have endured various forms of suffering—physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual.
Tripp’s account of his life-threatening illness begins the book. He describes how suffering is never “neutral,” but always pushes the sufferer to respond with potentially disastrous or beneficial spiritual results.
The book is then divided into six forms of temptations (called “traps”) and six forms of comfort available to believers who suffer. The traps for a sufferer are (1) awareness of the profound, and potentially permanent, difference suffering makes, (2) fear of more suffering coming, (3) envy of those who are not suffering or who are happy, (4) confusion about what God is doing and doubt that God is good, (5) denial that what happened is as bad as it seems, and (6) the discouragement that can dominate one’s thinking and life. The comforts are (1) God’s grace as expressed in Romans 8:18–39, (2) God’s presence and the rest it brings, (3) God’s sovereignty and the absolute control God has over all things, (4) God’s good purposes for suffering, (5) the comfort of God’s people when they love the sufferer, and (6) the comfort of a heart that is resting in Jesus Christ. Each of these twelve chapters has strong warnings, strong encouragements, and healthy advice on finding God’s help and comfort.
This book belongs by God’s Grace in Your Suffering (2018) by David Powlison and The Crook in the Lot (1737) by Thomas Boston in your library. It is not only for those who suffer now, but it is certainly for them.