As you peruse the following list of books and websites/blogs, think of your own needs, as well as the needs of loved ones and people in your sphere of influence.
- Michael Card, Sacred Sorrows: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament (NavPress, 2005).
- Elisabeth Elliot, Suffering is Never for Nothing (B & H Publishing Group, 2019).
- Timothy Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (Penguin Books, 2013).
- Alan Nelson, Embracing Brokenness: How God Refines Us Through Life’s Disappointments (NavPress, 2002).
- John Piper and Justin Taylor, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway Books, 2006).
- John Piper, The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway Books, 2001).
- David Powlison, God’s Grace in Your Suffering (Crossway, 2018).
- Vaneetha Risner, The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering (Desiring God, 2016).
- Joni Eareckson Tada, Beside Bethesda: 31 Days Toward Deeper Healing (NavPress, 2014).
- Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty (David C. Cook, 2010).
- Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way (Zondervan, 2016).
- Mark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament (Crossway, 2019).
- Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth, Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness (Moody Press, 2008).
- Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud, 25th Anniversary Edition (Zondervan, 2015).
- Philip Yancey, The Question That Never Goes Away: Why? (Zondervan, 2013).
- Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale, Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (FaithWords, 2014).
- Michelle Bengtson, Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression (Revell, 2016), and Hope Prevails Bible Study (Redemption Press, 2017.)
- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures (Eerdmans,1965).
- David Murray, Christians Get Depressed, Too (Reformation Heritage Books, 2010).
- David Powlison, God’s Grace in your Suffering (Crossway, 2018).
- Zack Eswine, Spurgeon’s Sorrows (Christian Focus, 2014).
- John Piper, When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God and Joy (Crossway, 2006).
- James I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1973).
- Brenda Poinsett, When Saints Sing the Blues: Understanding Depression through the Lives of Job, Naomi, Paul and Other Bible Characters (Baker Books, 2006).
*Which one book would I give to a Christian experiencing deep depression? David Murray’s Christians Get Depressed, Too. It is short, covers myths about depression and faith, and insights from Scripture without being too heavy. (I am not saying that my only suggestion for such a person would be to read a book. If only dealing with depression were that simple!)
*Which book should a pastor read to understand his own despondency, or to understand church members who experience depression? Eswine’s Spurgeon’s Sorrows. I believe every pastor should read this book! Spurgeon was transparent about his own depression and far ahead of his time in understanding it.
*Which book offers the best blend of raw personal story (transparency) and a sound biblical theology of suffering? (This one is a tie between Risner and Tada. All three of the books cited for these two ladies apply Scripture to their pain, rather than allowing their experience to formulate their theology for them.)
*Which book has the most helpful single chapter in it that I’ve read? Packer’s Knowing God. See the chapter titled, “These Inward Trials.” This classic book cites the primary attributes of God and covers basic truths of the gospel, but I love his coverage of “inward trials” and God’s purposes for trials and weaknesses of temperament. I’ve probably read this chapter a dozen times over the years.
*Which book offers Scripture and its truths as the primary weapon against depression? (Despite the deep theology in Piper and Keller and Zacharias, my answer is Michelle Bengtson’s Hope Prevails. She puts a strong focus on grasping and applying our identity in Christ to counter negative thoughts and feelings.)
*Which book encouraged me most as a depression-prone person in ministry? Piper’s The Hidden Smile of God. The stories of John Bunyan, William Cowper and David Brainerd brim with hope that God can use weak people, and redeem suffering for our good and for His glory.
Please note: to find reviews I’ve written on some of these books, go to my penetratingthedarkness.com homepage, click the green READ MY BLOG box until you find the following dates and blog titles.
*Review of Murray’s Christians Get Depressed, Too: see blog by same title on February 6, 2019.
*Review of Spurgeon’s Sorrows: See blog titled “The Outrageously Fruitful Ministry of a Depression-Prone Spiritual Giant,” July 4, 2018.
*Review of Hope Prevails: see blog by same title on May 15, 2018.
*Review of Joni Tada’s Beyond Bethesda: February, 2018.
*Review of Risner’s The Scars That Have Shaped Me: see blog titled “Suffering Seen Through the Lens of Scripture,” Fall, 2017. (My blog started October, 2017.)
Organizations & Websites
Joni & Friends
Joni & Friends (Joni Eareckson Tada) brings the Gospel of Christ and practical resources to people around the globe who are impacted by disability. This organization also equips Christ-honoring churches to evangelize and to disciple people in their communities who are affected by disability.
Joni and Friends International Disability Center P.O. Box 3333 Agoura Hills, CA 91376 (818) 707-5664
Chronic Joy Ministry
Mission: Radical Hope. Compassionate Change. Equipping those affected by chronic physical and mental illness through community and education rooted in Jesus Christ.
Extensive resources provided in the areas of chronic illness, caregiving and mental illness. Blogs, books and more. Theirs is a comprehensive, top-notch website!
Broken Believers (website and blog) is dedicated to serving broken Christians through a message of discipleship. Special attention is given to ministering to mental illnesses and other disabilities. Founded by Bryan Lowe. The center of this ministry is the blog.
This ministry offers support for persons with chronic illness or pain and serves needs of their caregivers. Rest Ministries offers devotionals, online support groups and a blog. They are dedicated to serving broken Christians through a message of discipleship.
P.O. Box 502928 San Diego, CA 92150 858-486-4685
Life in Slow Motion
Blog and online courses for dealing with chronic pain, directed by Esther Smith, a licensed and biblical counselor. Their focus is “Chronic Pain and the Christian Life.” Esther’s short book is titled, “But God, Wouldn’t I Be More Useful to You If I Were Healthy?”
Broken but Priceless Ministries
This is an interdenominational, non-profit Christian ministry that encourages individuals suffering with a chronic illness and serves their caregivers. Their mission is to help people with chronic illness see that even though their bodies are broken, they are priceless in God’s eyes.
P.O. Box 726 Hillsville, VA 24343
Their online magazine includes testimonies and reviews of resources that offer a biblically based hope. This ministry also maintains a blog.
Christine Chappell faithfulsparrow.com Hope + Help Project Podcasts In addition to articles, Christine’s site hosts regular podcast interviews with authors and other experts who deal with mental health and grief issues. Superb, helpful interviews!
No book or website helps a person unless it is read or its resources are appropriated. Which book or organization will you tap into this week? With which friend who suffers physical pain, depression, or some other form of affliction will you share this information?
I realize that my list of books and ministries is not exhaustive. Please send me information on any other resource that you have found helpful in relation to chronic pain, suffering, or depression.
When we hurt, let’s revel in Psalm 54:4: “Behold, God is my helper. The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.”