12 Best Books on Finding Purpose In Your Pain

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I read a lot of books on my healing journey. Some of them great, and some of them not-so-great. Here are my top choices. Hope this helps you on your own healing journey.

Through the Eyes of a Lion
Levi Lusko

In Through the Eyes of a Lion, Pastor Levi Lusko shares the eye-opening truth of the power of hope in a world that is often filled with pain, suffering, and loss. He says, “This book isn’t a manual for grieving, but a manifesto for high-octane living, and through it I want you to see that God made you for a purpose. There is a wild and wonderful calling on your life, a microphone in your hands. Jesus wants you to look at the adventure of your life through His eyes, the eyes of a Lion.”

Part memoir but all overtly instructive and deeply inspirational, Through the Eyes of a Lion gives readers the tools they need to face their fears and turn their journey into a roar story.
Chapter themes include:

  • Don’t rely on the naked eye
  • Run towards the roar
  • There’s no such thing as a wireless anchor
  • Let God use your pain
  • Cue the eagle

What we do in life really does echo in eternity. You are destined for impact, and there’s not a moment to lose!

Walking with God in Pain and Suffering
Timothy Keller

The question of why God would allow pain and suffering in the world has vexed believers and nonbelievers for millennia. Timothy Keller, whose books have sold millions of copies to both religious and secular readers, takes on this enduring issue and shows that there is meaning and reason behind our pain and suffering, making a forceful and ground-breaking case that this essential part of the human experience can be overcome only by understanding our relationship with God.

As the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Timothy Keller is known for his unique insights into religion and culture. Keller’s series of books has guided countless readers in their spiritual journeys. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering uses biblical wisdom and personal stories of overcoming adversity to bring a much-needed, fresh viewpoint to this important issue.

The Path of Loneliness
Elizabeth Elliott

Whether through the death of a loved one, divorce or estrangement in a marriage, or by being a single person in a world of couples and families, loneliness eventually comes to us all. Elisabeth Elliot lost her first husband to murder in the South American jungle and her second to the ravages of cancer. She has felt the deep pain of loss. In The Path of Loneliness, Elliot gives hope to the lonely through tender reflections on God’s love for us and his plans to bless us. She tackles this difficult topic with grace and faith, showing readers how to make peace with loneliness and grow through it.

Suffering is Never for Nothing
Elisabeth Elliott

Hard times come for all in life, with no real explanation. When we walk through suffering, it has the potential to devastate and destroy, or to be the gateway to gratitude and joy.

Elisabeth Elliot was no stranger to suffering. Her first husband, Jim, was murdered by the Waoroni people in Ecuador moments after he arrived in hopes of sharing the gospel. Her second husband was lost to cancer. Yet, it was in her deepest suffering that she learned the deepest lessons about God.

Why doesn’t God do something about suffering? He has, He did, He is, and He will.

Suffering and love are inexplicably linked, as God’s love for His people is evidenced in His sending Jesus to carry our sins, griefs, and sufferings on the cross, sacrificially taking what was not His on Himself so that we would not be required to carry it. He has walked the ultimate path of suffering, and He has won victory on our behalf.

This truth led Elisabeth to say, “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust Him.”

Because suffering is never for nothing.

Filling up the Afflictions of Christ
John Piper

When Augustine handed over the leadership of his church in AD 426, his successor was so overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy that he declared, “The swan is silent,” fearing the spiritual giant’s voice would be lost in time. But for 1,600 years, Augustine has not been silent―and neither have the men who faithfully trumpeted the cause of Christ after him. Their lives have inspired every generation of believers and should compel us to a greater passion for God.

In his fifth book in The Swans Are Not Silent series, John Piper explores the lives of William Tyndale, John Paton, and Adoniram Judson―a Bible translator, a missions organizer, and a front-line missionary.

 In their lifelong willingness to plant seeds of faith and hope with tears of blood, they not only embraced Christ’s suffering for them but powerfully joined with Christ in his afflictions―all for the sake of the gospel. Understanding that God’s strategy for reaching unreached peoples includes the sufferings of his front line heralds, these faithful servants let nothing deter them from their mission. May their faithfulness and sacrifice intensify your passion to make Christ’s love and value known among the nations.

Part of the The Swans Are Not Silent series.

Heaven
Randy Alcorn

Have you ever wondered . . . ?

  • What is Heaven really going to be like?
  • What will we look like?
  • What will we do every day?
  • Won’t Heaven get boring after a while?

We all have questions about what Heaven will be like, and after twenty-five years of extensive research, Dr. Randy Alcorn has the answers.

In the most comprehensive and definitive book on Heaven to date, Randy invites you to picture Heaven the way Scripture describes it—a bright, vibrant, and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering, and death, and brimming with Christ’s presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it.

This is a book about real people with real bodies enjoying close relationships with God and each other, eating, drinking, working, playing, traveling, worshiping, and discovering on a New Earth. Earth as God created it. Earth as he intended it to be.

The next time you hear someone say, “We can’t begin to image what Heaven will be like,” you’ll be able to tell them, “I can.”

The Upside of Adversity
Os Hillman

Os Hillman is a modern-day biblical Joseph who experienced his own decade-long journey from the pit of despair to the pinnacle of success in life and in the workplace. Here, he explains how God uses adversity to show His power and purpose. Os identifies seven reasons people experience adversity, and the three stages of response—including practical ways to cope when circumstances veer out of control. You’ll see why some people become victims while others become victors. Then, you’ll discover hope and inspiration in the stories of others who have survived difficult experiences and rose to positions of influence. Like a well-thrown life preserver, Hillman gives you the wisdom you need to see your negative experiences as God-given positive opportunities.

Listen to Os’ interview on the Nothing is Wasted Podcast

A Grace Disguised
Jerry Sittser

Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know the grace that transforms it.

Whether your suffering has come in the form of short-term illness, chronic illness, disability, divorce, rape, emotional abuse, physical or sexual abuse, chronic unemployment, crushing disappointment, mental illness, or the loss of someone you love, Sittser will help you put your thoughts into words in a way that will guide you deeper into your own healing process.

A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of our sorrows, asks questions many people are afraid to ask, and provides hope in its answers:

  • Will the pain ever subside?
  • Will my life ever be good again?
  • Will the depression ever lift?
  • Will I ever overcome the bitterness I feel?
  • What is God’s plan in all of this?

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.

A Grief Observed
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.

It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way
Lysa TerKeurst

Life often looks so very different than we hoped or expected. Some events may simply catch us off guard for a moment, but others shatter us completely. We feel disappointed and disillusioned, and we quietly start to wonder about the reality of God’s goodness.

Lysa TerKeurst understands this deeply. But she’s also discovered that our disappointments can be the divine appointments our souls need to radically encounter God. In It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa invites us into her own journey of faith and, with grit, vulnerability, and honest humor, helps us to:

  • Stop being pulled into the anxiety of disappointment by discovering how to better process unmet expectations and other painful situations.
  • Train ourselves to recognize the three strategies of the enemy so we can stand strong and persevere through unsettling relationships and uncertain outcomes.
  • Discover the secret of being steadfast and not panicking when God actually does give us more than we can handle.
  • Shift our suspicion that God is cruel or unfair to the biblical assurance that God is protecting and preparing us.
  • Know how to encourage a friend and help her navigate hard realities with real help from God’s truth.

Listen to Lysa’s interview on the Nothing is Wasted Podcast

Hope in the Dark
Craig Groeschel

“I want to believe, I want to have hope, but . . .” Pastor and bestselling author Craig Groeschel hears these words often and has asked them himself. We want to know God, feel his presence, and trust that he hears our prayers, but in the midst of great pain, we may wonder if he really cares about us. Even when we have both hope and hurt, sometimes it’s the hurt that shouts the loudest. Can God be good when life is not?

In Hope in the Dark, Groeschel explores the story of the father who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus, saying, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” In the man’s sincere plea, Jesus heard the tension in the man’s battle-scarred heart. He healed not only the boy but the father too, driving out the hopelessness that had overtaken him. He can do the same for us today.

As Groeschel shares his pain surrounding the current health challenges of his daughter, he acknowledges the questions we may ask in our own deepest pain: “Where was God when I was being abused?” “Why was my child born with a disability?” “Why did the cancer come back?” “Why are all my friends married and I’m alone?” He invites us to wrestle with such questions as we ask God to honor our faith and heal our unbelief.

In the middle of your profound pain, you long for authentic words of understanding and hope. You long to know that even in overwhelming reality, you can still believe that God is good. Rediscover a faith in the character, power, and presence of God. Even in the questions. Even now.

Listen to Craig’s interview on the Nothing is Wasted Podcast

Nothing is Wasted
Davey Blackburn

On November 11, 2011, Davey and Amanda Blackburn loaded up a moving truck and drove from Greenville, South Carolina to Indianapolis, Indiana to start Resonate Church, a place they hoped would bring new life to a city and reach people who didn’t know God.

Almost four years later on November 10, 2015, the unspeakable happened: Davey came home from the gym to find that his wife, who was pregnant, had been shot three times during a burglary gone wrong in their home. Thankfully, their fifteen-month-old son was left unharmed in his bedroom upstairs. Amanda passed away twenty-four hours later.

The story hit headlines across the country, and the months following Amanda’s death brought Davey to the lowest level in his life. Nothing Is Wasted is the deeply moving story of Davey’s journey of despair and hardship, hope and healing, and how he discovered firsthand that God has a bigger purpose in our pain. It is through this tragedy and Davey’s brokenness, forgiveness, and willingness to share his story that God’s presence and healing power allows triumph, victory, and restoration to have the last word.

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