My inability to comprehend God’s benevolence in the face of suffering drove me to agnosticism and suicidality.
The realization that Christ also suffered and died for us, brought me back.
This is a hard topic, and one too complicated for pat answers. The following books, however, offer thoughtful explorations, without dismissing the complexity of the issue, or the vulnerability it reveals in us.
Out of the Storm: Grappling with God in the Book of Job , by Christopher Ash — This commentary not only beautifully summarizes the book of Job, but does so through an analysis that lifts Job’s anguished questions from the pages and into our own lives.
A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament by Michael Card — Christian songwriter and teacher Michael Card writes a thoughtful, sensitive exposition of biblical lamentation. Through his exploration of the prayers of David, Job, Jeremiah, and Jesus, he reveals the Scriptural premise for engaging openly with God in our suffering.
How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil , by D. A. Carson — An academic, yet clear and accessible analysis of Biblical themes of suffering.
Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow, by Nancy Guthrie — I would actually recommend everything by Nancy Guthrie, especially, in addition to Hearing Jesus, Holding onto Hope and What Grieving People Wish You Knew About What Really Helps. Nancy has a high view of Scripture, a discerning eye, and has endured unbearable heartache personally. Her skills and experience combined make for writing that is at once genuine, heartbreaking, and inspiring.
Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart , by Kenneth C. Haugk — A practical, yet biblical, guide to supporting others through suffering. Chapters explicitly discuss what helps, and what hurts, when we walk alongside those in pain.
The Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis — I’d be remiss to compile a book list on suffering, and not include Lewis. I’d recommend both, but with different expectations. The Problem of Pain is theoretical; A Grief Observed captures his personal reflections in mourning after the untimely death of his wife.
The Scars That Have Shaped Me , by Vaneetha Rendall Risner — Vaneetha is one of my favorite modern Christian writers, and in this memoir she chronicles her travails her suffering, in all their honest ugliness, and the influence of that path on her faith. Achingly beautiful, each page points to the Cross.
Hope When It Hurts , by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton — This relatable, well-written book reads like a Bible study, with an exposition of 2 Corinthians interwoven with personal testimony, as well as with thoughtful reflections on how to endure.