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From the Bookshelf: Dealing with Loss

Friday, 30 December 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the death of our oldest son, Peter. To mark the date, here are some books that deal with grief that I have found to be helpful in coping with the change the loss made in my life.

When God Doesn’t Make Sense was written back when Dobson really did “focus on the family” rather than politics, and this book offers many wise words on dealing with loss. My sister-in-law Connie sent it to me shortly after Peter died and it was the first book (of many) I read in trying to sort out changes wrought by his death.

Publisher’s Summary: An immensely practical book for those who are struggling with trials and heartaches they can’t understand. Why does disease, divorce, rejection, death, or sorrow seep into our lives when we are trying to serve the Lord? It just doesn’t seem fair! This book deals unflinchingly with life’s most troubling question — the awesome “Why?”

Disappointment with God is written by one of my favorite Christian authors, Philip Yancey.

Publisher’s Summary: “Is God Unfair? Is God Silent? Is God Hidden?” These questions are asked with piercing honesty and biblical certainty. Step by step, Philip Yancey retraces the long journey toward understanding the answers to these and other questions. If God desires our love, why does he sometimes put obstacles in the way? Why does he seem so distant? What can we expect from him after all? No part of the Bible goes unstudied in the author’s search for God’s hidden nature in this compelling and profound book.

When God Weeps is written by Joni Eareckson Tada, who has certainly had much loss in her life and has had much time to reflect upon it.

Publisher’s Summary: “If God is loving, why is there suffering? What’s the difference between permitting something and ordaining it? When bad things happen, who’s behind them — God or the devil?” When suffering touches our lives, questions like these suddenly demand an answer. From our perspective, suffering doesn’t make sense, especially when we believe in a loving and just God.

After more than thirty years in a wheelchair, Joni Eareckson Tada’s intimate experience with suffering gives her a special understanding of God’s intentions for us in our pain. Together with her lifelong friend, Steven Estes, she probes beyond glib answers that fail us in our time of deepest need. Instead, with firmness and compassion, they reveal a God big enough to understand our suffering, wise enough to allow it — and powerful enough to use it for a greater good than we can ever imagine.

A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss is written by Gerald L. Sittser, who is also very familiar with grief.

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

A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of our sorrows, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. 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 — one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.

Celebrating the Wrath of God by Jim McGuiggan lives up to it’s thought provoking title. This book was written in 2001, so it has been a more recent read for me than the previous four.

Publisher’s Summary: Is there a purpose to suffering and loss? Just by living, we see and experience how agonizing life can be. We are surrounded by child abuse and neglect, starving families, premature deaths of those we love, natural disasters, and global disease. How could a God worthy of respect and worship allow such a world to exist?

There are no simple answers. But there is hope. Author Jim McGuiggan believes that suffering may in fact be the last thing we expect — an expression of God’s wrath, which is in turn nothing other than his relentless, loving pursuit of us. If this is true, then suffering is a vital part of God’s work to redeem his creation. Give this claim a hearing, and you just might see the suffering world in a new way — a world shot through with glory and hope and assurance.

This book, Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb, was recommended to me by another sister-in-law, Cindy. (I’ve got seven of them, so this could go on and on, but this is the last one for now.)

Publisher’s Summary: “Shattered dreams,” writes Dr. Larry Crabb, “are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story. The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream. They are ordained opportunities for the Spirit first to awaken, then to satisfy our highest dream.”

To help you understand this neglected truth in the deepest and most helpful way, Larry Crabb has written a wise, hopeful, honest, and realistic examination of life’s difficulties and tragedies. He wraps his insights around the bold story of Naomi in the Bible’s book of Ruth.

As Crabb retells and illuminates this sometimes disturbing and often profoundly touching story, we are shown how God stripped Naomi of happiness in order to prepare her for joy. And we gain an unforgettable picture of how God uses shattered dreams to release better dreams and a more fullfilling life for those He loves. Shattered dreams have the power to change our lives for good. Forever.

Anyone have any other recommendations? You’ll notice (if you actually made it all the way to the end of this list) that these books all have to do with God and loss. Thinking about these books made me curious about what type of books people who do not believe in God read to help them cope with loss. Post a comment if you can recommend a title.

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