Why does God allow the righteous suffer? Perhaps no other question has been asked more than that one. John Piper in his newest book, "A Sweet & Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God" seeks to provide an answer to that question. As the title suggests, in moments of despair, we must turn to God's Sovereign Providence. Despite what we want to be true, God's Providence is both sweet and bitter. At times we rejoice in God's providence, while at other times we suffer in bitter despair.
Piper looks at the story of Ruth, verse-by-verse, as an example of sweet and bitter providence. Ruth and Naomi was in a dire situation. Husbands and sons had died. They were alone. They were in dire poverty. And it seemed that God's providence had turned against them. But that is only the beginning.
Piper walks the reader through this fascinating, yet neglected, story with incredible insight. I have never read a better book on Ruth or on Providence than this. Piper reminds us the unique advantage we have as readers: we can skip to the end. As we read Ruth, we know what happens in the end. Marriage, a son, a king, and a Messiah. But Ruth and Naomi remained ignorant of these things until they happened. What we see is God's providence, what they experienced was God's providence. The issue is one of perspective. Let us not forget that though we suffer, God is sovereign and good, He is provident and is working all things for His glory. Let us have a more correct perspective.
This is a fascinating book that is timely. In an age of economic turmoil, terrorist attacks, deaths, and scandals, we need to be reminded of God's providence. Piper is known for his firm belief in the sovereignty of God and Piper shows how practical such a doctrine is. It gives us comfort in the midst of bitter despair and gives us joy in the midst of wondrous sweetness.
I read this book through a audio download attained at christianaudio.com. Audio books have allowed me to use my time at my desk or in my car more wisely. The reader is Grover Gardner who has read several books in his career and has one of the best voices I have heard in the industry. I therefore recommend both the print and the audio version of this book.
This is a message we all need to hear, especially as Christians. Ruth is more than about widows, marriage, and a baby. Its about God, His providence, Jesus Christ, and the gospel. Piper shows us how.