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Dealing With Pain, Suffering, Loss and Grief: A Reader

Jul 2, 2020

Here are a number of important books dealing with suffering, pain and evil and how we might respond:

We all suffer in various ways, so to offer a reading list on how to cope with, how to understand, and how to endure grief, hardship and suffering should be of interest to all of us. And even if your life seems pretty breezy right now, you would know of others who are in pain and travail of the soul.

So this is a small sampling of the many books that are available to help us wade through the deep waters of affliction and suffering. This is my second list of books along these lines. My first piece appeared in 2011, and featured 55 volumes: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/09/21/readings-in-theodicy/

The books included there were somewhat wide-ranging, dealing with various aspects of the topic. Thus there were books that were philosophical, theological and apologetic in nature, as well as those which were more pastoral, spiritual, or biblical in nature.

Here those titles are still featured, but they are supplemented by over 20 newer volumes. It will again have a mix of works, but most of the newer titles I have added are more practical and pastoral in nature, dealing with counselling, help, and sharing personal stories of grief and how people have coped.

Just about all of these books share certain common features: they are all relatively recent (penned in the past half century); they are mainly penned by Christians (of a more or less conservative and evangelical persuasion); and most are still available at new or used bookshops.

It should be pointed out that I have written full reviews of a number of these volumes, so use the search function (top right of this site) to see if a volume you want more information on has in fact been reviewed. Also, seven of the more recent books I did offer shorter descriptions of: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/09/18/seven-helpful-new-books-on-the-problem-of-pain-and-suffering/

Here then is my reading list of 77 titles:

Adams, Marilyn McCord, Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. Melbourne University Press, 1999.

Alcorn, Randy, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. Multnomah, 2009.

Bickel, Bruce and Stan Jantz, Answering the Toughest Questions About Suffering and Evil. Bethany House, 2017.

Biebel, David, If God is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad? Spire, 1989.

Billheimer, Paul, Don’t Waste Your Sorrows. Kingsway Publications, 1977.

Blocher, Henri, Evil and the Cross. Apollos, 1990.

Boa, Kenneth, Shaped By Suffering. IVP, 2020.

Borthwick, Paul and Dave Ripper, The Fellowship of the Suffering: How Hardship Shapes Us for Ministry and Mission. IVP, 2018.

Bridges, Jerry, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. NavPress, 1988.

Campbell, Ronnie, Worldviews and the Problem of Evil. Lexham Press, 2019.

Carson, D.A., How Long O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil.  Baker, 1990.

Carson, D. A. and Kathleen Nielson, eds., Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering: 1 Peter. Crossway, 2018.

Cotterell, Peter, Is God Helpless? Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. SPCK, 1996.

Crenshaw, James, Defending God: Biblical Responses to the Problem of Evil. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Dickson, John, If I Were God, I’d End All the Pain. Matthias Media, 2001.

Dobson, James, When God Doesn’t Make Sense. Tyndale House, 1993.

D’Souza, Dinesh, Godforsaken. Tyndale, 2012.

D’Souza, Dinesh, What’s So Great About God. Tyndale, 2013.

Eareckson Tada, Joni, A Place of Healing. David C. Cook, 2010.

Eareckson Tada, Joni and Steven Estes, When God Weeps. Zondervan, 1997.

Elliot, Elisabeth, A Path Through Suffering. OM Publishing, 1990.

Elliot, Elisabeth, Suffering Is Never For Nothing. B&H, 2019.

Feinberg, John, Deceived by God? A Journey Through Suffering. Crossway Books, 1997.

Feinberg, John, The Many Faces of Evil. Rev. ed. Crossway Books, 1979, 2004.

Floyd, Gregory, A Grief Unveiled. Paraclete Press, 1999.

Fretheim, Terence, Creation Untamed: The Bible, God, and Natural Disasters. Baker, 2010.

Furman, Dave, Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials. Crossway, 2018.

Geisler, Norman, If God, Why Evil? Bethany House, 2011.

Geisler, Norman, The Roots of Evil. Zondervan, 1978.

Gregg, Brian Han, What Does the Bible Say About Suffering? IVP, 2016.

Guinness, Os, Unspeakable: Facing Up To Evil In an Age of Genocide and Terror. Harper, 2005.

Habermas, Gary, Why is God Ignoring Me? Tyndale, 2010.

Hasker, William, The Triumph of God over Evil. IVP, 2008.

Hauerwas, Stanley, God, Medicine, and Suffering.  Eerdmans, 1990.

Hick, John, Evil and the God of Love. Fontana, 1966.

Hicks, John, Yet Will I Trust Him. College Press, 1999.

Hicks, Peter, The Message of Evil and Suffering. Inter-Varsity Press, 2006.

Horton, Michael, A Place for Weakness. Zondervan, 2006.

Jones, Clay, Why Does God Allow Evil? Harvest House, 2017.

Kapic, Kelly, Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering. IVP, 2017.

Keller, Tim, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. Dutton, 2013.

Kreeft, Peter, Making Sense Out of Suffering. Servant Books, 1986.

Lewis, C. S., A Grief Observed. Bantam Books, 1961.

Lewis, C. S., The Problem of Pain. Fontana, 1940.

Image of Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers
Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Array Amazon logo

MacArthur, John, The Power of Suffering. Victor Books, 1995.

McCartney, Dan, Why Does it Have to Hurt? Presbyterian and Reformed, 1998.

McGrath, Alister, A Journey Through Suffering. Hodder and Stoughton, 1992.

Meister, Chad and James, Dew, eds., God and Evil. IVP, 2013.

Meister, Chad and James, Dew, eds., God and the Problem of Evil. IVP, 2017.

Morgan, Christopher and Robert Peterson, eds., Suffering and the Goodness of God. Crossway Books, 2008.

Morley, Brian, God in the Shadows. Christian Focus, 2006.

Ortlund, Dane, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers. Crossway, 2020.

Palau, Luis, Where is God When Bad Things Happen? Doubleday, 1999.

Peterman, Gerald and Andrew Schmutzer, Between Pain and Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering. Moody, 2016.

Peterson, Michael, Evil and the Christian God. Baker, 1982.

Peterson, Michael, God and Evil. Westview Press, 1998.

Piper, John and Justin Taylor, eds., Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.  Crossway Books, 2006.

Plantinga, Alvin, God, Freedom and Evil. George Allen & Unwin, 1974.

Plantinga, Theodore, Learning to Live With Evil. Eerdmans, 1982.

Powlison, David, God’s Grace in Your Suffering. Crossway, 2018.

Ramsey, K. J., This Too Shall Last: Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers. Zondervan, 2020.

Rhodes, Ron, Why Do Bad Things Happen if God is Good? Harvest House, 2004.

Schaeffer, Edith, Affliction. Hodder & Stoughton, 1978.

Silvester, Hugh, Arguing With God: The Problem of Evil. IVP, 1971, 1996.

Sittser, Jerry, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss. Zondervan, 1995, 2004.

Sproul, R. C., Surprised by Suffering. Tyndale House, 1988.

Stackhouse, John, Can God Be Trusted? Oxford University Press, 1998.

Swinburne, Richard, Providence and the Problem of Evil. Clarendon Press, 1998.

Van Inwagen, Peter, ed., Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil. Eerdmans, 2004.

Watts, Gary, Painful Questions. Herald Press, 1999.

Wenham, John, The Goodness of God. IVP, 1974.

Wiersbe, Warren, When Life Falls Apart. Spire, 1984.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas, Lament for a Son. Eerdmans, 1987.

Wright, NT, Evil and the Justice of God. SPCK, 2006.

Yancey, Philip, Disappointment With God. Zondervan, 1988.

Yancey, Philip, Where is God When it Hurts? Zondervan, 1977.

Zacharias, Ravi and Vince Vitale, Why Suffering? FaithWords, 2014.

With so many fine titles to choose from, you may want me to offer some recommendations here. So let me break things down into two main categories. For books that deal more with apologetics, theodicy, philosophy and theology, consider getting books by Carson, Geisler, Kreeft, Lewis and Zacharias.

If you are seeking inspiring and moving personal stories, and/or more pastoral and practical approaches (although still with biblical considerations throughout) you might try Bridges, Dobson, Eareckson Tada, Floyd, Ortlund, Sittser, Wolterstorff, and Yancey.

Let me finish with just one quote from just one of the books listed above (Sittzer, A Grace Disguised, p. 158): “The sovereign God came in Jesus Christ to suffer with us and to suffer for us. He descended deeper into the pit than we will ever know. His sovereignty did not protect him from loss. If anything, it led him to suffer loss for our sake.”

(Australians will find many of these books at Koorong.)

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7 Responses to Dealing With Pain, Suffering, Loss and Grief: A Reader

  • Thanks Bill for all your efforts. I think we’ve all had pain of some sort during life whether it be physical, mental or loss of loved one. Sometimes pain can be so bad that you cannot read anything nor believe that it will end so it is always good to be prepared.
    On a similar note, just this week I met a young lady who has five children but was nearly killed by her ex who was on the drug ‘ice’. She doesn’t know if God exists or not and I have no idea how I can convince her that there is only one God and that He sent His only son to suffer and die in her place. I can only pray for her and let God show her who He is.

  • Thanks for the list. Just a suggestion could you next time out the new titles in bold to easily find them??? I often copy lists and being able to quickly pick out the new ones, and copy just them, would be great.

  • Glad you are finding insight from A Grace Disguised. Lots of good quotes in it such as the one you quoted. It’s a book I’ve come back to a number of times, along with the sequel “When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayer”.

  • Thank you for these book titles as we have bought several books you have suggested on other topics, which have proved to be very helpful and encouraging. Just wondering if these books are for Christians only or if there are one or two which you would recommend for non believers who are suffering? Thank you and God Bless you and your Ministry.

  • Thanks Robyn. These authors could all be useful for non-Christians, either in an apologetics sense, or in help for suffering: D’Souza, Guinness, Kreeft, Lewis and Zacharias.

  • Just discovered this recent book Bill…Looks very interesting!

    Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy – Discovering the Grace of Lament…

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1433561484/?coliid=I3QNUZ5V8AD6IY&colid=2HWYDLRCXXWXV&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

    Going to get it at Koorong soon.

  • Thanks Jeremy. Yes it is a good volume indeed.

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