“Suffering is Never for Nothing” Book Review

For those who don’t know, Elisabeth Elliot is the wife of a missionary killed by the tribe he was trying to evangelize to. He, along with his associates, were murdered. Elisabeth went on to continue ministering to the tribe that killed her husband. She later remarried, only to lose her second husband to cancer. She continued ministering and eventually married a third time.

This book, given to me for review, is the first time that these specific words have been published in book form. It is from a seminar that she gave on suffering. The title of the book aptly describes her message, that suffering is never for nothing.

What I love about this book is that Elisabeth acknowledges that we all suffer. However, just because we all have suffered, we cannot understand all suffering. After all, Elisabeth could not empathize with a mother who lost her child. But she could empathize in the suffering that ensued from that incident.

Elisabeth honestly points out what causes our suffering and why we have such a hard time dealing with it. No one is immune from suffering. Believers and non-believers all have sufferings. However, in her estimation, a Christian who suffers must come to an acceptance of it. To truly be Christian is to understand that God has control over everything and that whether we understand it or not, we trust in Him.

She acknowledges that suffering is not made better because of this, but that there is a peace that comes from knowing the God is walking with you through it. Her take on suffering is very honest and refreshing. It is not always an easy message to hear, but definitely a Biblical one.

Christianity is a religion of servanthood and suffering. Jesus embodied this. Our salvation (a good thing) came at the cost of suffering (His crucifixion). To be Christian is to be a servant and to suffer. There is no other way. But that suffering also brings a joy with it. Words that are quite hard to hear, but offer clarity.

I also like how Elisabeth shares how we can act as the body of Christ when dealing with suffering. For instance, you may not be able to empathize with someone’s suffering, but that doesn’t mean you cannot help them through it. Through her stories, you can easily see how you can respond to others’ sufferings and also how you can deal with your own. These are practical, no non-sense things.

As a person who has suffered much in her life, Elisabeth offers insight that most others cannot give. Those who have gone through intense suffering will find that they are agreeing with much of what she says. You will find yourself wishing Christians had responded in the ways she describe, wondering if you handled your suffering the “right” way, and assessing how you can help others.

The reader that has not suffered intensely yet will come away with a renewed sense of what Christianity is. They will understand what is to come in their spiritual walk. They will better understand what others who are suffering are going through, both spiritually and emotionally. And although suffering can be a scary prospect, Elisabeth is adamant that the joy that comes with it is worth it.

I highly recommend this book for any person questioning why God allows suffering. She doesn’t hedge away from this topic but takes it head on. I also recommend it for all lay people as it is important to truly understand the place that suffering has in our faith, as well as how to handle suffering of our own and of others. Lastly, I recommend it for clergy as it is a clear explanation of suffering and gives good anecdotal information for use with congregants. It will also help give clarity on how to handle suffering when it comes to you.

I am very glad I was able to review this book and am happy to recommend it for your library!!


Laura is a trusted reviewer for B&H Publishing (Lifeway).  In exchange for her unbiased reviews, she is supplied a hard copy for free. 

Laura participates in the Amazon Associates program which compensates her for sales made through the advertisements on her social media. 


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