God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer, by Pete Greig
When I read God on Mute, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Here, at last, was permission to cry out that I wasn’t healed, that it was all too hard, that I didn’t understand where God was in it all. Greig’s story of his wife’s struggle with a severe brain tumor was a welcome respite from so many tales of God’s triumph over disease and how God always heals if there’s enough faith. The book doesn’t demand answers, but instead finds God at work in the shadows and the ruins.
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
I fell in love with 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, the subject of this children’s novel, who was bullied because of an extreme facial disfigurement. He says, “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” His courageous determination to grab hold of life despite the barriers he meets speaks deeply to me. It’s a celebration of the best of humanity and a reminder that contentment doesn’t always come from perfect circumstances.
Edges of His Ways, by Amy Carmichael
Amy Carmichael worked among orphan girls rescued from slavery in India in the early 20th century. After a fall, she became bed-bound, yet rather than turning bitter she found great treasure in turning to God. Calling her constant pain “shackles of iron,” she discovered that leaning into God in her darkest times led to new depths of contentment and peace.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death, by Jean-Dominique Bauby
This is the autobiography of a man with locked-in syndrome, a rare neurological condition that causes paralysis everywhere except in the eyes. Through he could only communicate by blinking, he managed to articulate the memories that became the substance of this book. The agony of feeling imprisoned inside one’s body chimes with my experience, but the poetic flights of Bauby’s “butterfly” show me how to see beauty amidst tragedy.
The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis
This final Narnia tale culminates with a glorious vision of God restoring all things. How can a book about the end of time speak into our painful present? God has imbued us with a yearning for his presence, a soul-ache for our forever home. The last pages of this book never fail to kindle a poignant longing for the way things are supposed to be, and one day will be.