“There is a pathway through this suffering. It’s not easy, but God will use it to lead you toward healing.”
By Isabella Graunke
I attended a family funeral recently and was reminded that death and dying are some of life’s hardest subjects. There is nothing that makes me feel less in control than the sudden passing of a loved one. For this reason, I am grateful for authors who speak wisely and tenderly on the subject of loss, grief, and suffering. Here are five book suggestions if you need comfort for suffering and hope for healing in your current season.
1. The Louder Song by Aubrey Sampson
Lament helps us hear God’s louder song.
When you’re in the midst of suffering, you want answers for the unanswerable, resolutions to the unresolvable. You want to tie up pain in a pretty little package and hide it under the bed, taking it out only when you feel strong enough to face it. But grief won’t be contained. Grief disobeys. Grief explodes. In one breath, you may be able to say that God’s got this and all will be well. In the next, you might descend into fatalism. No pretending. Here, you are raw before God, an open wound.
There is a pathway through this suffering. It’s not easy, but God will use it to lead you toward healing. This path is called lament. Lament leads us between the Already and the Not Yet. Lament minds the gap between current hopelessness and coming hope. Lament anticipates new creation but also acknowledges the painful reality of
now. Lament recognizes the existence of evil and suffering—without any sugarcoating—while simultaneously declaring that suffering will not have the final say. In the midst of your darkest times, you will discover that lament leads you back to a place of hope—not because lamenting does anything magical, but because God sings a louder song than suffering ever could, a song of renewal and restoration.
2. Either Way, We’ll Be All Right by Eric Tonjes
Does God have a hope to offer us in times of pain? Can God meet and sustain us even if our circumstances don’t improve?
One of the few guarantees in life is that we will suffer. Everything around us is broken. Each of us has an expiration date. A few years ago, Eric and his wife, Elizabeth, together with their young children, were confronted with this unavoidable reality when she was faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Shattered by grief, they began to wrestle with what it means to follow Jesus when everything around them seemed to be giving way. What this pastor and his wife discovered were a set of truths about God from Scripture that provided the resources they needed to survive—truths too often neglected by the modern world. God meets us in our grief, but not always in ways we expect or even want.
Coming from that jumbled place of agony and assurance, Either Way, We’ll Be All Right is a journey through the darkness in hopes of discovering light on the other side.
3. A Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card
God desires for us to pour out our hearts to Him, whether in joy or pain. But many of us don’t feel right expressing our anger, frustration, and sadness in prayer. From Job to David to Christ, men and women of the Bible understood the importance of pouring one’s heart out to the Father. Examine their stories and expand your own definition of worship.
4. The Cry of the Soul by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman
All emotion—whether positive or negative—can give us a glimpse of the true nature of God. We want to control our negative emotions and dark desires; God wants us to recognize them as the cry of our soul to be made right with Him. Beginning with the Psalms, Cry of the Soul explores what Scripture says about our darker emotions and points us to ways of honoring God as we faithfully embrace the full range of our emotional life.
5. Holy Vulnerability by Kellye Fabian
Life can seemingly be fine on the surface. But for any of us who scratch that surface, we recognize anxiety, shame, disappointment, and regret. And yet, in the depths of these feelings, in the things we hate about ourselves, others, and this world, we can invite God’s presence.
This is the essence of holy vulnerability. To enter into holy vulnerability is to intentionally expose our raw wounds so that God can heal and mend and transform us.
What happens when we refuse this depth of healing? Something that author Kellye Fabian calls “unholy leakage”—that thing that happens when we are afraid, ashamed, or anxious, and instead of facing the reality of what we’re experiencing, we just spill it on everyone around us. Where is anxiety occupying our hearts and
minds? Where is fear hindering our relationships and limiting our faith and joy? Where is shame causing us to question our self-worth? Is there another way? Yes. Holy Vulnerability unpacks six atypical, unexpected spiritual practices intended to open us to God’s healing and transformation. Through practices like laughter, community, and tangible engagement with creation, Kellye guides us to notice where brokenness is breaking into our lives. And as we intentionally seek God in the midst of these practices—as we step out in holy vulnerability—God will meet us there.
Featured image photo credit: Jonatán Becerra (@ionass86)