5 Books for Your Hardest Season
I’m going to be honest with you, when I was walking through the hardest parts of my journey there were very few books that were helpful. It might be partly my personality, but well put together words didn’t mean much to me when nothing in my life was put together at all.
I still read books though, because that’s what I do.
And surprisingly enough, I have found some books through the years that reached me. And more books have come out in years since my stumble through depression and loss–books that have helped me and brought me more healing.
Today I want to share with you a few books that helped me process my sorrow, along with the book I wrote through my own hardest season.
Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot
This book was not around when I was at my darkest place, but I wish it was because Elisabeth Elliot’s practical way of addressing deep and difficult things has always ministered to me.
When I was offered a review copy of Suffering is Never for Nothing, I immediately said yes because, hello! this was something by Elisabeth Elliot. In many ways, she was my mentor through my teenage years as I devoured her books and writings.
This book is transcribed from a conference she spoke at many years ago, and I can’t be more thankful to the person who took the time to transcribe them because it’s so good. Like, so, so good.
It feels like one last conversation with an older woman in the faith who has come beside you and isn’t afraid to tell you the hardest, but most life changing truths available.
“If your prayers don’t get answered the way you thought they were supposed to be, what happens to your faith? The world says God doesn’t love you. The Scriptures tell me something very different.” –E.E.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
I had this book on my shelves for years. I originally bought it because it was a C.S. Lewis book I hadn’t read, but whenever I tried to read it, I just couldn’t get into it.
Fast forward until after our miscarriage, when I was adrift in questions and confusion. I picked up A Grief Observed and every chapter carried something—some little nugget of oh, this isn’t just me or ah, here is some truth or wow, that’s just a lie the enemy feeds us all, isn’t it?
Unlike many of Lewis’ books, this is not anything well put together. It is an honest observation. Sometimes desperate, sometimes trusting, sometimes heart breaking.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” –C. S. Lewis
Pain Redeemed by Natasha Metzler
I always knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I planned on only writing fiction until infertility and loss laced my life and the biggest story I had to tell was about my own life.
This little book invites you to join me as I share an honest look at the hardest points of my journey and the most difficult questions about God, life, and painful experiences. With personal stories and very real (and raw) journal entries, you will see how God met me right in the darkest parts of my struggles.
This isn’t a happily ever after book on infertility. I started and ended from the same place, without the babies my heart cried for, but it’s full of hope and God’s presence and the goodness of the Father.
“My job is not to understand it (lean not on your own understanding) but to acknowledge Him in it. To recognize that He is God. Not me. Never me. Never the idols I create in my life. Only Him.” –Natasha Metzler
The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey
I had no idea when I picked up this book while clawing my way through infertility, that I’d be blessed. I just like studying the Old Testament and thought it seemed interesting.
Right near the beginning, Philip Yancey starts a chapter titled Job: Seeing in the Dark and it was like a lightbulb came on for me.
Up until this point, I was floundering hard trying to reconcile my faith with a God who didn’t do what I expected Him to—and here comes a commentary on the story of Job. Pretty much the ultimate story of reconciling faith with circumstances that crush us.
There was much more in this book that blessed me—the chapter on Psalms and others—but the section on Job was a huge turning point and also the start to me digging back into the Scripture again.
“The book of Job affirms that God is not deaf to our cries and is in control of this world no matter how it appears.” –Philip Yancey
Hind’s Feet on High Place by Hannah Hurnard
I love allegories and parables. They are my original literary loves and even in hard times, I go back to them. There is such simplicity and depth to them, which teaches more profound lessons than the most brilliantly worded exposition on a subject.
Hind’s Feet was one of my favorites for years, but when I read it again while walking through darkness—I saw much deeper meaning and encouragement in the stories of the wilderness and altar and the battles against self-pity and pride.
(and just a side note: the version I linked to here is a gorgeous illustrated edition!)
“Remember also that it is always safe to obey [the Shephard’s] voice, even if it seems to call you to paths which look impossible or even crazy.” –Hannah Hurnard
A few other noteworthy books:
Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty (This book was a huge blessing to me, partially because of Sara’s conversations about infertility–but mostly because of her stories of God’s presence in the middle of the bitter seasons of life.)
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (This book has been well read and well loved by so many–and there is a reason for it. Learning to celebrate the gifts God has blessed us with while journeying through an equally mundane and sorrow-filled world is simply life-changing.)
Remember God by Annie F. Downs (This story touched me deeply when I read it. There is so much real-life emotion and frustration and beauty written in these pages. Annie’s walk through singleness and my own walk through infertility are so similar–and God has truly shown up. Just like He promised.)
No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece (The reality of life is that we face hard things. And the rest of the reality is that God is there. This brave book explores those truths in such a beautiful way.)
**I received Suffering is Never for Nothing from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.