Shaped by Suffering: How Temporary Hardships Prepare Us for Our Eternal Home, By Kenneth Boa alt

Shaped by Suffering

How Temporary Hardships Prepare Us for Our Eternal Home

by Kenneth Boa
With Jenny Abel

Shaped by Suffering
  • Length: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 0 × 0 in
  • Published: February 04, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3647
  • ISBN: 9780830836475

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"The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:10

Suffering comes to us all. It may be disease or debilitation, pain or persecution. Our difficulties may be invisible to others or impossible to hide. Sometimes we suffer because of our Christian witness. Other times it's simply part of living in a fallen world. But suffering affects us all, in ways we don't always anticipate.

Christians today are often not prepared to suffer well and have a shortsighted view of pain and trials. Ken Boa shows how God uses suffering to shape his children for eternity and to grow them in Christlike character. The book of 1 Peter tells us suffering is both a guarantee and comparatively brief; we shouldn't be surprised when it comes to us. The nature of our affliction is not as important as our response to it. God is at work through our hardships and wants to use them to prepare us for eternal life.

Suffering can make us bitter or better. Rediscover living hope, present joy, and a glorious future.

"This book is superb—rich, deep, wise, and warm. It fills a glaring gap in responses to the challenges of suffering and will be read as God's great hug for all who are in pain."

Os Guinness, author of Carpe Diem Redeemed

"Suffering is like manure—though totally repellent, it provides compost for growth. In this thoughtful book, Ken Boa and Jenny Abel reflect on the pain experienced by the apostle Peter. Themes of grace, hope, and even joy emerge as character is forged. Such personal growth does not come cheaply, but it is eternal."

Alec Hill, president emeritus of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA and author of Living in Bonus Time: Surviving Cancer and Finding New Purpose

"For decades, Ken Boa's writings have directed readers' thoughts toward worship, spiritual formation, and living in light of eternity. Now, in Shaped by Suffering—which is arguably his most profound book—he offers hope, meaning, and perspective on our suffering. In Ken's words, get ready 'to let God use our difficulties to pry our fingers off the tight grip we have on our expectations and turn our attention to a living hope—one that won't let us down.'"

Paul Borthwick, senior consultant for Development Associates International, coauthor of Fellowship of the Suffering

"The challenge of suffering calls for all the resources we can find, and Kenneth Boa's latest book is filled with them. Drawing extensively on the letter of First Peter, Boa vividly describes the way God uses life's difficulties to shape our characters and prepare us for eternal fellowship with him. While nothing diminishes the pain that suffering brings, he insists, we have the assurance that God is with us through it all, forming us in the likeness of Christ. The book is filled with inspiring illustrations of people who have grown in suffering, sometimes dramatically, and it concludes with a number of practical ways to apply its insights to our lives."

Richard Rice, author of Suffering and the Search for Meaning: Contemporary Responses to the Problem of Pain

"I cannot think of a better person to write such a book. Ken has spent his life focusing on people and on ministry to them. He is one of the best-read individuals I know, and his love of Scripture, his knowledge of apologetics, and his deep passion for practical spirituality have touched the lives of many over the years. This is a timely book. The topic is vitally relevant and, as you will see, the message speaks to the heart as it informs the mind. The mystery of suffering hits all, and we need wise counsel to navigate through the hardships it brings. This book is a great resource and one you will want to share with others. I heartily commend it."

Stuart McAllister, global support specialist with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

"My good friend Ken Boa has done it again—this time with Jenny Abel. This is not only an in-depth and scholarly approach on the subject of suffering, but it is deeply pastoral. We all need encouragement in this area of life—whether personally or in helping others. This book will definitely meet that need."

Gene A. Getz, professor, pastor, and author

"We don't typically think of the words suffering and joy as going together. But Ken Boa teaches us that—in the context of God's goodness and sovereignty—they do. Shaped by Suffering contains fresh insight on just about every page, which is no surprise to those of us who have come to love Ken Boa and his work. He is truly one of the wise men of the church today, and like the wise men of old, he has a special gift for seeing the glory of God first, before the rest of us. Also like the wise men of Scripture, Ken Boa does not keep the secret to himself but shares it with the world. Shaped By Suffering may be his best yet."

Warren Cole Smith, president of

"Why is there suffering in this world? This is one of the hardest questions we face as Christians, and many books have been written to try to answer it and to provide help for those struggling with pain and sorrow. Rather than following the well-trodden paths, this book explores how God uses suffering to prepare us for our eternal home. In showing us a purpose for our suffering, Shaped by Suffering does something even more important than giving us a theodicy: it offers a perspective that brings hope and even joy in the midst of hardship."

Glenn Sunshine, senior fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, professor of history at Central Connecticut State University

"Outside those who steward the message of Christ, there remain almost no resources in our culture to help people who suffer—with hope, with meaning, with purpose. Ken has done us all a great service here, bringing the truth and hope of the gospel to bear exactly where we need it to speak most. Not only does this book point us beyond our suffering to the One who suffered on our behalf, it will equip us to point others to him as well."

John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview

"Suffering is hard, but it's never pointless. Many Christians know this to be true. But Ken Boa helps believers embrace a fresh vision for how hardship creates Christlikeness through his treatment of the Scriptures and real-world examples. This book is packed with fresh insights and a wide array of encouragement. It's theological and personal—a rare combination for a book on suffering. It's hopeful and honest—an important tool for rethinking our approach to pain. Read this book and you'll see how suffering can shape your soul for the glory of God."

Mark Vroegop, lead pastor of College Park Church, Indianapolis, author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament

"In case you are thinking this is just another book on suffering—think again. Ken Boa has crafted a perspective on suffering that is often overlooked yet significantly relevant. Boa reminds us that suffering is not random and that we are not just vulnerable victims of the whims of fate. Understanding God's work to not just transform us but to prepare us for our eternity with him gives strength of meaning and purpose to all who journey through the dark downturns of life. This is a 'must read' for those who are experiencing difficult times, for your friends who suffer, and for any of us who wrestle with why a good God would permit pain. Thanks, Ken, for this indispensable contribution to the upside of down!"

Joe Stowell, president of Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan

"I am a devout follower of Ken Boa's writing and resources because of their ongoing impact in my personal growth and ministry, and Shaped by Suffering delivers a desperately needed message for our personal challenges, injustices, and afflictions. Drawing from the wisdom of 1 Peter, Ken and coauthor Jenny Abel teach us how to 'lean in' and leverage our suffering to accomplish God's ultimate agenda—to make us like Jesus and bring honor and glory to himself. I highly recommend it!"

Chip Ingram, teaching pastor and author, Living on the Edge Media and Discipleship Ministry

"Suffering comes for all of us. When it does, we're filled with questions: Why did this happen? Is there a purpose behind it? Is there hope of healing? Perhaps the most important question we can work through is the one Shaped by Suffering takes up: How shall I respond? With rich insight, a long view of eternity, and a careful handling of Scripture, Boa and Abel offer preparation for those soon to suffer, help for those in the midst of suffering, and comfort for those who have emerged on the other side."

Russ Ramsey, pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church's Cool Springs location in Nashville, Tennessee, and author of Struck: One Christian's Reflections on Encountering Death

"Ken Boa has done it again. Shaped by Suffering takes us to a deeper, richer, and, in my opinion, a more accurate understanding of suffering in this world. Boa's discerning and comprehensive grasp of Scripture releases new insights about the methods and motivation of the Master Craftsman of our lives as he refines and purifies our character to better reflect the image of His Son."

Pat MacMillan, president of Triaxia Partners

Read an Excerpt


1. The Crucible of Suffering
2. The Alchemy of Grace
3. A Living Hope
4. A Present Joy
5. Preparing to Suffer
6. Imitating Christ
7. Submitting to God
8. Submitting to Authority
9. Ministering to Others
10. An Eternal Glory
11. A Clear Calling

Appendix 1: How Can a Good God Allow Evil and Suffering? A Brief Theodicy
Appendix 2: Ten Intercessory Prayer Tips
Appendix 3: Powerful Prayers for Yourself and Others
Appendix 4: Psalms of Lament
Appendix 5: Scripture for an Eternal Perspective on Suffering
Study Guide


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Kenneth Boa

Kenneth Boa is an author, a speaker, and the president of Reflections Ministries, Omnibus Media Ministries, and Trinity House Publishers. He is the author of over fifty books, including Faith Has Its Reasons, Rewriting Your Broken Story, Life in the Presence of God, and Shaped by Suffering. He is a contributing editor to the Open Bible, the Promise Keepers Men's Study Bible, and the Leadership Bible, and is the consulting editor of the Zondervan NASB Study Bible.

Kenneth Boa on the Eternal Perspective with three cover images of his books.
Shaped by Suffering - book cover image "Power of Eternal Perspective"
Shaped by Suffering - book cover image "Living in the light of Eternity"
Shaped by Suffering - book cover image "Prepare for Eternity"
Ken Boa says "Suffering comes to us all.  The nature of our affliction is not as important as our response to it."