Life in this fallen world is filled with suffering. Because of this, every Christian needs to learn how to suffer well.
The following Christian books on suffering, grief, loss, and death will help you learn God’s view on suffering and be prepared when suffering enters your life.
My prayer for you is that God would supernaturally equip you to joyfully obey the command of 1 Peter 4:19, just like he did my mother:
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
(**Note: the links below are affiliate links, which means that I earn a small percentage of purchases made at no extra cost to you.)
Some of the Best Christian Books on Grief, Death, and Suffering
For All Who Grieve: Navigating the Valley of Sorrow and Loss by Colin S. Smith
When Pastor Colin Smith found himself counseling grieving couples in his church, he turned to the book of Lamentations for help. What unfolded is recorded in this book.
Written with compassion and understanding, yet honestly facing the difficult questions that death stirs up, For All Who Grieve shows what it looks like to grieve with hope.
Based on the biblical themes of tears, talk, guilt, grievance, hope, and healing this book will demonstrate how to navigate the valley of grief, sorrow, and loss. Most of all, though, it points to Christ, our Savior, who knows what it is to walk sorrow’s path. For when you pass through the valley of sorrow and loss, you are in a place where Christ can be found.
A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss by Gerald Sitzer
Loss came suddenly for Gerald Sittser. In an instant, a tragic accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience loss in such a catastrophic form, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of our sorrows, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life — one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moment,” A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: “Nothing will shake a man — or at any rate a man like me — out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.” This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.
A Grief Sanctified: Through Sorrow to Eternal Hope by J.I. Packer
Richard and Margaret Baxter had been married only nineteen years before she died at age forty-five. A prominent pastor and prolific author, Baxter sought consolation and relief the only true way he knew- in Scripture with his discipline of writing. Within days he produced a lover’s tribute to his mate and a pastor’s celebration of God’s grace. It is spiritual storytelling at its best, made all the more poignant by the author’s unveiling of his grief.
J. I. Packer has added his own astute reflections along with his edited version of this exquisite memoir that considers six of life’s realities-love, faith, death, grief, hope, and patience. He guides you in comparing and contrasting the world’s and the Bible’s ideals on coping with these tides of life. The powerful combination of Packer’s insights and Baxter’s grief gives you a beacon if you are searching for God, a pathfinder for your relationships, and a lifeline if you are grieving.
Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie
In this paradigm-shifting book, Nancy Guthrie gently invites readers to lean in along with her to hear Jesus speak understanding and insight into the lingering questions we all have about the hurts of life:What was God’s involvement in this, and why did he let it happen? Why hasn’t God answered my prayers for a miracle? Can I expect God to protect me? Does God even care? According to Nancy, this questioning is not a bad thing at all but instead an opportunity. It’s a chance to hear with fresh ears the truth in the promises of the gospel we may have misapplied. It lets us retune our souls to the purposes of God we may have misunderstood.
Helping Those in Grief: A Guide to Help You Care for Others by H. Norman Wright
Many pastors and lay counselors have had minimal training in clinical methods of grief counseling.Helping Those in Grief is a biblical, practical guide to pastoral counseling written by one of the most respected Christian therapists of our time. This book is the next step after Wright’s best-selling The New Guide to Crisis and Trauma Counseling. Wright brings more than 40 years of clinical and classroom experience to this topic, and shares real-life dialogs from his private practice to demonstrate healthy, healing counseling sessions. Readers will learn how to counsel and coach both believers and non-believers who are grieving, how to walk alongside them and how to help them find the path to complete restoration.
Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff
The author describes the progress of his grief from the shock of learning of his son’s accidental death to his final resignation a year later.
This book helps you enter Wolterstorff’s grief which may help you in your own grief.
One Minute After You Die by Erwin Lutzer
“One minute after you die you will either be elated or terrified. And it will be too late to reroute your travel plans.”
Death comes to all, and yet death is not the end. For some, death is the beginning of unending bliss, for others, unending despair. In this latest edition of the bestselling book One Minute After You Die, Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer weighs the Bible’s words on life after death. He considers:
- Channeling, reincarnation, and near-death experiences
- What heaven and hell will be like
- The justice of eternal punishment
- Trusting in God’s providence
- Preparing for your own final moment
Download the Sermon Series the book is based on: One Minute After You Die: A Preview of Your Final Destination
Some of the Best Christian Books on Suffering
This anthology includes essays from both classic and contemporary theologians, Bible teachers, and missionaries such as John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Piper, Corrie ten Boom, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Helen Roseveare. Each entry expounds on a Bible verse, leading readers to see and be comforted by God’s perspective, purpose, and provision in suffering.
Anyone who has suffered knows that there is no such thing as “getting a grip on oneself” or “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The only bootstrap in the Christian life is the Cross,” says Mason. “Sometimes laying hold of the cross can be comforting, but other times it is like picking up a snake.”
Job knew this firsthand. From him we learn that there are no easy answers to suffering. That the mark of true faith is not happiness, but rather, having one’s deepest passions be engaged by the enormity of God. And through Job we learn the secret of the gospel: that “mercy is the permission to be human.” The Lord never gave Job an explanation for all he had been through. His only answer was Himself. But as Job discovered, that was enough.
The Gospel According to Job sensitively brings the reader to this realization, using a devotional commentary format that reminds them that it’s all right to doubt, to be confused, to wonder–in short, to be completely human. But what will heal us and help us endure is a direct, transforming encounter with the living God.
Formerly titled Comforting the Bereaved, this practical, insightful guide gives direction to pastors and lay-leaders of all levels of experience. Included are recommended Scriptures to read; an explanation of the stages of grief; approaches to conducting funerals in special circumstances such as suicide, victims of crime, multiple family deaths, or when the deceased is unknown to the pastor; signs of healthy and unhealthy grief, and how to help survivors cope. This new edition contains a chapter on ministering to victims of terrorism. It is also recommended for chaplains and hospice caregivers.
Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ by J. Todd Billings
At the age of thirty-nine, theologian Todd Billings was diagnosed with incurable cancer. The questions were acute: Why me? Why now? Where is God in all of this? This eloquently written book shares Billings’s journey and reflections on providence, lament, and life in Christ in light of his illness. He moves beyond pat answers to show how our human stories of joy and grief can be incorporated into the larger biblical story of God’s saving work in Christ.
The problem of suffering is often raised by those who question the goodness or the power of God. In this book, newly revised and expanded, R.C. Sproul provides biblical answers to the questions all of us ask about suffering and addresses some of the many unbiblical conclusions that are put forth today. In the end, he shows that suffering is not outside the realm of God’s providence and His good purposes.
In Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, contributors John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, Steve Saint, Carl Ellis, David Powlison, Dustin Shramek, and Mark Talbot explore the many categories of God’s sovereignty as evidenced in his Word. They urge readers to look to Christ, even in suffering, to find the greatest confidence, deepest comfort, and sweetest fellowship they have ever known.
The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis, one of the most renowned Christian authors and thinkers, examines a universally applicable question within the human condition: “If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?” With his signature wealth of compassion and insight, C.S. Lewis offers answers to these crucial questions and shares his hope and wisdom to help heal a world hungering for a true understanding of human nature.
In an effort to strengthen his own trust in God during a time of adversity, Navigator author Jerry Bridges began a lengthy Bible study on God’s sovereignty. The revelations changed his life. In Trusting God,Jerry shares the scope of God’s power to help you come to know Him better, have a relationship with Him, and trust Him more—even when unjust things happen. Tragedy, grief, loss, and death are part of life. Discover how Trusting God can reveal biblical truths about God.
New York Times bestselling author of The Songs of Jesus Timothy Keller—whose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readers—explores one of the most difficult questions we must answer in our lives: Why is there pain and suffering?
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is the definitive Christian book on why bad things happen and how we should respond to them. The question of why there is pain and suffering in the world has confounded every generation; yet there has not been a major book from a Christian perspective exploring why they exist for many years.
When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada
When God Weeps is not so much a book about suffering as it is about God. It tackles tough questions about heaven and hell, horrors and hardships, and why God allows suffering in this life. Through a panoramic overview of what the Bible says about suffering, the authors make clear who God is, why he permits so much heartache and pain, and how it is we can trust him. With both a practical edge and heartfelt warmth, When God Weeps offers dependence on his love and mercy in spite of our doubts, fears, longings, and questions. It’s a message much needed. Despair and discouragement are rampant. At the same time, fewer people are able to balance God’s purposes and his mercies. Instead, attempting to avoid tragedy and suffering, many Christians confuse simple formulas for faith. But where does that leave the family who loses a son on a military mission? Or the young mother who isn’t healed of cancer? When God Weeps is for people like these . . . and for thousands more who need more — much more — than answers.
Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale
Why would a loving and powerful God allow so much pain and suffering? In WHY SUFFERING? Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale carefully walk you through a variety of responses that considered together provide a clear, comprehensive, and convincing answer. Responses like: Where there is the possibility of love, there has to be the reality of freedom, and therefore the possibility of pain. Wishing God had made a different world is to wish yourself out of existence. In comparison with other world religions, the Christian response is highly distinctive. Here is a book written with great respect for the complexity of the issue, recognizing that some who read it will be in the trenches of deep suffering themselves and others questioning the very existence of a loving God. WHY SUFFERING? provides an answer to the problem of pain and suffering with emotional sensitivity and intellectual integrity.
What books have been helpful for you?