The best books on finding hope and comfort in difficult times

Who am I?

I believe the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and that he loves us. But after enduring years of physical, mental, and emotional pain, special needs in one of our children, two job losses, and a degenerative ankle, I’ve struggled to understand why he’s allowed it. Over the years, God has been teaching me that there is more to our suffering than meets the eye. And what we see as pointless, God promises to redeem and use for his good purposes. As I’ve grown to trust Jesus, he’s changed me, and given me comfort, hope, and joy in the midst of my sorrows. 


I wrote...

Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God's Purpose in Your Suffering

By Kristen Wetherell, Sarah Walton,

Book cover of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God's Purpose in Your Suffering

What is my book about?

Sarah and Kristen have walked through, and are walking in, difficult times. So these thirty biblical reflections are full of realism about the hurts of life—yet overwhelmingly full of hope about the God who gives life.

This book will gently encourage and greatly help anyone who is struggling with suffering—whether physical, emotional, or psychological, and whether for a season or for longer. It is a book to buy for yourself or to buy for a member of your church or friend. For anyone who is hurting, this book will give hope, not just for life beyond the suffering, but for life in the suffering. Each chapter contains a biblical reflection, with questions and prayers, and a space for journaling.

The books I picked & why

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Beside Still Waters: Words of Comfort for the Soul

By Charles H. Spurgeon,

Book cover of Beside Still Waters: Words of Comfort for the Soul

Why this book?

Over the past 15 years, I’ve walked through layers and layers of trials – including chronic illness in myself and all four of my children, special needs in one of our kids, a degenerative ankle that has led to six ankle surgeries, depression, and several seasons of financial struggle. During times when I haven’t had much capacity to read in large chunks, I have found Beside Still Waters to be a comfort and encouragement. Charles Spurgeon writes with profound insight and eloquence, but in a down-to-earth way.


The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering

By Vaneetha Risner,

Book cover of The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering

Why this book?

Between suffering from polio as a child, post-polio syndrome as an adult, betrayal, the loss of a son, and a husband who left soon after – Vaneetha Risner has endured unimaginable suffering. For that reason, her honest words about suffering have left an incredible impact on me as I’ve endured my own. She doesn’t “preach” to us as if we need to get our act together, but she writes with compassion, honesty, and comfort as one who’s been there. Despite having every reason to be angry and bitter at the people who have hurt her and God himself, she is full of wisdom, grace, and joy, and shares about the hope she has that has enabled her to endure. 


Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense

By Paul David Tripp,

Book cover of Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Why this book?

Sometimes life doesn’t go as we’d hoped or expected; sometimes it’s filled with layers of difficulty and struggle, and sometimes it’s flipped upside down with tragedy. And I’ve experienced all three. Out of nowhere, death, illness, job loss, etc, can change our lives and challenge our view of God, ourselves, and the world. But despite all the pain, confusion, and disappointment, we have hope.

Paul David Tripp wrote with personal experience about how we can learn to trust God in the midst of suffering. He’s helped me cling to God's promises in my trials, face my pain with honesty, and persevere with the hope of the gospel.


Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament

By Mark Vroegop,

Book cover of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament

Why this book?

Sometimes the pain of our suffering is multiplied because those around us act as though grieving is a sign of weakness and lack of faith. Although we live in a world with many wonderful things, we will all experience suffering at some point. And trying to numb or avoid our pain doesn’t make our hurt and grief disappear. For that reason, I’ve been helped and encouraged by Mark Vroegop’s book because it teaches us to lament, which is acknowledging our grief and pain to God, giving ourselves the space and time to grieve while holding onto hope at the same time.


Suffering Is Never for Nothing

By Elisabeth Elliot,

Book cover of Suffering Is Never for Nothing

Why this book?

Elisabeth Elliot knows pain. She lost her first husband, Jim Elliot, when he and other missionary husbands were murdered by the tribe of people they were trying to reach. With incredible tenacity and bravery, Elisabeth continued to reach out to the tribe who killed her husband and ended up living among them and helping translate the bible into their language. In addition to that, she also lost her second husband to cancer. Despite all of that, she has offered the hope of Jesus to countless people – including myself. And the profound wisdom that she’s gained through unimaginable suffering has been such a gift to me as I’ve struggled to understand the purposes of my own pain. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Christianity, suffering, and fear?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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