John Piper's Hospital Lessons

  • July 27, 2016
  • #8933

If we complain and grumble, we reveal to others we believe God is uncaring or helpless, which hinders our testimony of the goodness of Christ.

John Piper's Hospital Lessons

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a story from Dr. John Piper.

If one can have a favorite theologian, I think John Piper would be mine. I devour everything he writes in books and blogs, and I’d venture to say that some of his articles and essays may have touched your life, too. John Piper has written a great deal on the subject of suffering and the sovereignty of God, and because he has battled against cancer himself, his reflections are always so applicable, so practical. Recently he wrote a little book called “10 Lessons from a Hospital Bed,” and I was pretty honored that he asked me to do the foreword. When I read the manuscript, I thought, I just have to offer this little book to my radio friends! And so all this week, that’s just what we’re doing. Go to my radio page today at and ask for your free copy of “10 Lessons from My Hospital Bed” written by Piper.

And just what are a few of those lessons? Well, one has its roots in Philippians chapter 2, verse 14 where it says, “Do everything without complaining.” Now, I realize that’s hard to do when you have to be in a hospital. Complaining is such a temptation: You dropped the call button and can’t reach it; you have to use a bedpan; they want you to wear a hospital gown with an open back; the room is way too small for you and there is a person in the bed next to you; and, he keeps crying out at night. Sound familiar? I bet it does. And I bet these things foment a lot of complaints, am I right?

Well, I like what Dr. Piper advises: instead of focusing on the fact that your nurse isn’t responding or the person in the next bed is snoring or the intravenous device is beeping or the ice chips have run out, think instead about the fact that 150 years ago you would probably be dead at this point. And if not, you might be groaning in unrelieved pain with no medication to help. Back then, the patient didn’t know what was wrong with his body; 150 years ago he didn’t know if he was dying or not. But now, so many years later, we expect things to work. We expect help when we feel we need it. We want relief from a pill. We expect those who serve us to be respectful. And we do not expect to be told that there was nothing that can be done for our illness.

We Americans do not suffer well, and so, we are prone to complain. (And I include myself in that lot). And I am ashamed of it. It contradicts all that I believe about God. When I complain – or when you complain – it makes God look weak or uncaring or helpless, but God is none of these things. And so, our complaining tells lies about him. What I mean by that is, if as a Christian we grumble, it tells onlookers that we think God is ineffective or uncaring. Besides, when we complain we act like everybody else in the world – and then what good is our witness for Christ? The Bible tells us that Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow in his steps. And part of that example is to put away complaining. So please visit me today at and ask for your free copy of Dr. Piper’s “10 Lessons from a Hospital Bed.” Something you can give to a friend you know who’s in the hospital, or be blessed by the lessons yourself. And before we go, let’s be grateful that we live in a century where we can receive good healthcare, where there are hospitals in our community, and if you know someone in a hospital who might benefit from John Piper’s little book, then visit me today at

© Joni and Friends


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