When you’re in the deepest of trenches, sometimes you just need the right book to offer itself in your life and commiserate with you. Enter in our list of books of Faith Filled Books for the Chronically Ill. Faith is the main backbone of all these books. We haven’t found too many books in our journey that touch both the heart and the mind like the ones we have listed. If you can think of any that we’re missing, please let us know in the comment section.
1. A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada may just be the most vulnerable book she’s written. And since long-time readers of Joni’s know her to be vulnerable, that’s saying something! A Place of Healing certainly wasn’t written while she was on a spiritual high; in fact, it was written after chronic pain ushered itself into her life only after she had become comfortable with the idea of her long stint of years as a quadriplegic. A Place of Healing encounters why some people are never healed from a Biblical standpoint as well as persuasive reasons why physical suffering occurs. In her trademark style, Joni is bold in her assertions, but always gentle. She also very interestingly records well-sourced incidents of leaders from “healing ministries” that have tried to hide their identity in hospitals by giving a fake name so that it wouldn’t be discovered that a prestigious leader of a healing ministry had to be rushed to the hospital.
“Friend, you may be going through a time of wounding right now and, if you are, take heart, because your heart is being set to God’s…Your life will produce so much more fruit from it all-fruit that you probably won’t even see or know about. For those whom God loves, he grafts. -Joni Eareckson Tada
2.A Grief Observed is what Michael was reading a couple of years ago when I was at my worst. This book was written by Lewis himself after the death of his wife but was written under a pseudonym, N.W. Clerk. It’s a book that touches more on the matters of the heart, whereas The Problem of Pain addresses more of the intellectual side.
3.This is a wonderful little book on the necessary aspect of grieving your chronic illness and the “old, yet healthier you.” Written in a down-to-earth style, you’ll find helpful information as well as necessary validation on the grieving process. It’s on my list as a re-readable that I’ll be returning to when the guilt and pain of chronic illness become palpable again. (You can read more about Esther Smith’s book here.)
“I have spent many hours trying to understand what makes chronic pain so difficult to understand, and I think one small piece of the puzzle is that it is hard to explain how much we have lost. -Esther Smith
4. This one was a book that was more of Michael’s favorite in our journey. The first part of the book addresses more of the intellectual side and why suffering makes the most sense from a Christian worldview. And while Keller builds an excellent case, some of his arguments on theodicy were too much for me at the time of my own reading to where I actually started to cry (embarrassing as it is to admit).
EDIT: I can now say I’ve finished the book and walked away with a different attitude. When you’re suffering, sometimes it’s your heart that is starving for comfort more than your mind striving for answers. The second half offers intellectually satisfying replies, but it’s taken more from the approach of a counselor than an apologist. I would probably have appreciated the first portion from Keller in a different season. If you feel like you can’t take a factual only approach to suffering because the rawness of your hurts is too overwhelming, I would definitely urge you to read from part two and three and save part one for a better time.
The second half had so many nuggets of wisdom that it’s difficult to isolate just one enriching truth. But the one that I don’t think I can forget is Keller’s mention of the famous passage of Jesus weeping at Lazarus’s tomb.
“When Jesus approaches the tomb of Lazarus, most translations say He was ‘once more deeply moved’ or ‘he groaned in himself.’ But these translations are too weak. The Greek word used by Gospel writer John means to ‘bellow with anger…’ Why did the sight of Lazarus’s tomb and his family’s grief enrage Jesus? In some ways, his anger and grief seem inappropriate. He knows full well that he is about to turn all the grieving and mourning into shouts of wonder and joy- he is about to raise Lazarus from the dead. So why is he quite literally furious? The spectacle of distress… enraged Jesus because it brought poignantly to home his consciousness of evil, of death, of its unnaturalness…and the general misery of the whole race and burns rage against the oppressor of men. Inextinguishable fury seizes upon him.” So this is the picture we have of Jesus in this moment that most miss out on:
“Jesus is furious at evil, death, and suffering and, even though he is God, he is not mad at himself. -Tim Keller
5. As we mentioned earlier, The Problem of Pain is more of an intellectual take on the problem of suffering.
Although this is a wonderful book, make sure you’re emotionally up for the read before cracking the binding.
6. Who doesn’t love stories? This is an older memoir on the life of Joni Eareckson Tada that was written while Joni was still very young. We traverse through the up and down challenges of her health and her strong correlating emotions to these circumstances. We walk with her and look on at the frailty of dreams, yet we also watch in the young Joni a new but different sort of hope and altered dreams emerge.
7. This is another book of Joni’s that’s written in a story format, only this time, it includes her long-time husband, Ken Tada as an accompanied voice to offer his perspective. This is certainly a wonderful read for anyone with a chronic health issue that either is married or wants to be married or to those who are married or dating someone with a taxing health condition. I talk about the book in further details here, if you want more information on this lovely book.
8. For all my fellow story lovers out there, here is yet another memoir. This one is written by the courageous Kristen Jane Anderson who after battling intense depression, decided to end her life in one of the most gruesome ways- by laying her body on the train tracks in the surest attempt of death many of us can think of. Except, she didn’t die. She remained alive. Yet after the train barreled through her body, miraculously leaving her with her life, it also ended her journey to ever walk on her own two legs again as both legs were torn from her body. This is a great read that’s accompanied by the much-loved author, Tricia Goyer as the story unfolds of a life that continued on in spite of Kristen’s personal desire to end it.
9. Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense was a book that Michael read, that again, helped him at a time where he felt like he was at his weakest.
10. This is a wonderful devotional written by Joni Eareckson Tada who herself knows suffering firsthand and poignantly writes short entries that are both theologically sound and emotionally satisfying. This is definitely a treasure of a book that I’m happy to own.
I hope there was something on this list that could help you along in your own journey in healing. Again, let me know if there are any books you yourself found helpful in your own struggles.
Walking alongside you,
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