When Suffering Is Redemptive: Stories of How Anguish and Pain Accomplish God’s Mission

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Trim Size: 
6 x 9
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About the Author: 
Larry J. Waters

Larry J. Waters (Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) is the editor of Why, O God? Suffering and Disability in the Bible and the Church (Crossway). He is Professor of Bible Exposition and Lead Editor of Bibliotheca Sacra, the academic journal for Dallas Theological Seminary. Before joining the faculty of Dallas Seminary he and his wife, Mary, served as missionaries in the Philippines from 1973 to 1999. His worldwide ministry continues, primarily in the Philippines with Biblical Education by Extension World Missions. Dr. Waters and his wife enjoy time with their two daughters and sons-in-law and their five grandchildren.

About the Book

The eight stories of this book do not seek to explain the why of suffering, but rather present ways that God can transform and redeem suffering in the life of the individual and in the Christian community. The stories are personal, sometimes difficult to tell. The authors are transparent with their struggles and honest in their questions, yet they have not lost sight of Christ and his purpose for their lives. The natural reaction to suffering is anger, confusion, and feelings of alienation from God. But the eventual end should be redemption—the faithful sufferer and the suffering transformed for the glory of God.


1. Redeeming the Worse Pain Known to Medical Science: Suffering and the Mission of God

            Larry J. Waters

2. Redeeming a Life of Paralysis: Broken Wholeness

            Mark Talbot

3. Redeeming Chronic Pain: When Surgery Fails

            Mark McGinniss

4. Redeeming Disability: Parenting a Child with Special Needs

            Mary Klentzman

5. Redeeming Trauma: The Trials and Triumphs of Emergency Responders

            Steve Calvert

6. Redeeming the Loss of a Spouse: God’s Crucible of Affliction

            Richard Rood

7. Redeeming the Homeless: One Man’s Vision and Experience

            Wayne Walker

8. Redeeming a Life after Suicide: The New Normal

            Bill Bryan

Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada

When I first leafed through the book you hold in your hands, one sentence quickly caught my eye: “Sometimes we are unwilling, shunning the very thing that will move [God’s] redemptive purpose forward. That ‘thing’ is suffering.” 

In those few words, Larry Waters described me perfectly. Decades ago when I broke my neck in the diving accident that left me a quadriplegic, I couldn’t have cared less about God’s redemptive purposes. I hated life in a wheelchair. All I wanted was the use of my hands and legs. Yet when I finally found myself in a corner with nowhere else to turn, God suddenly became my “ever present help in trouble.”

Nearly fifty years later, God is still backing me into corners. And in every one, I am still discovering fresh new levels of how tender and powerful His help is. Sometimes it involves battling stage III cancer or lung infections or dealing daily with chronic pain; whatever the case, I have come to know suffering. I have also come to know that my Savior is ecstasy beyond compare, and it is worth anything to be His friend.

Still, there are deeper levels of His grace to explore. That means more corners to be led into, especially as older age encroaches. Each new affliction exposes dark corners in my heart where peevishness and unwillingness still hide. My spirit can still dig in its heels when it comes to cooperating with God and His redemptive purposes. My will is still quick to crumble when pain heightens, and my emotions become too easily deflated when new afflictions loom. 

This is why I make every effort to surround myself with people who inspire and encourage my weak heart—people who have stepped into the inner sanctum of sharing in Christ’s sufferings and have not only survived, but flourished. I look for stories that enlarge my vision, invigorate my faith, and bolster my confidence in Christ. I dare not listen to my soul when I'm in pain; rather, I listen to the Bible-breathed words of courageous brothers and sisters in Christ who whisper, “Joni, you may think it’s impossible, but you can do all things—even live with pain today—through Christ who strengthens you!”

I know this is why you’ll enjoy—and more, be blessed by—reading When Suffering Is Redemptive. The remarkable testimonies on the following pages will refresh your weary heart and point you to God's purposes in your suffering. And that’s a good thing. Because suffering is not as private and personal as you think. There is a divine mission to be accomplished through your afflictions—a Spirit-blessed mission where the cosmic stakes are about as high as you can get. Let When Suffering Is Redemptive elevate you onto that celestial battlefield alongside other valiant warriors, the place where you, too, will discover that the Lord is always your ever present help in trouble.

Joni Eareckson Tada