Let's face it; life is difficult. I have been told that one of my gifts is the gift of encouragement. But, sometimes I find myself giving it; however, not often receiving it. So, what's a girl like me to do when I face difficult life struggles? Whether they be financial, parental, marital, educational, or relational, five books have become my go-to resources for encouragement.
Here we go...
When going through the issues of life, it can be so easy to make a phone call to a friend or run to the bookshelf to find the answers to our problems or even to make us feel better. But, we often miss or skip past the most important book on the shelf--the Bible. This is my #1 go to when I am down or discouraged. The Bible is literally a book full of problems and solutions. With the biggest problem being that God is holy and we're not. We are sinners separated from a holy God. The good news is God provides a solution through His Son, Jesus the Christ for those that believe and put their trust in Him through repentance and faith.
The Bible is all sufficient, inerrant, and trustworthy to turn you from your 'stinkin thinkin' and refocus your mind and heart from self toward Christ. My soul always feels revived, refreshed, and refocused to fight the good fight of faith after bathing myself in the scriptures.
Unfortunately today, all Bibles are not created equal. So you must be careful when selecting one to study, memorize, and meditate on. I personally like bibles that have no study notes, titles, or subtitles because it forces me to do the work. I am able to dig deeper and have an inductive study every time I read God's Word. However, for those days that I don't have time to study on my own I love the John MacArthur Study Bible. The hard work is already done and I can sit back and reap the benefits of a great Bible teacher. However, I always remind people to remember the study notes are not inspired. Only the Word of God is. So make sure you still do your due diligence as a Christian to study the Word of God on your own as a Berean (Acts 17:11).
The second book I often turn to is Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges. This book has been a lifesaver in my darkest of days. Times that I just don't understand what God is doing or even why or how long. The author goes into personal stories of his pain and heartbreak. He then exhorts the reader on how God uses these very pain points to draw us near to Him. While I may not personally understand my trials, I can trust the Lord to know that He's God and I'm not. That's good enough for me :)
A book that I have fallen in love with is by Ruth Chou Simons titled Gracelaced. It has been a balm for this weary soul many of days. It is cleverly designed to reflect on the seasons of our heart: Winter - Resting in God's Character, Spring - Rehearsing the Truth, Summer - Responding in Faith, Fall - Remembering God's Provisions.
I have read most seasons with tears as Ruth is such a gifted author and artist who brings the beauty of our pain together with God's Word along with a gorgeous painted piece of artwork for our enjoyment. This combination can't help but to uplift the soul and look toward God through our suffering.
One of my favorite quotes from this book is, "And if not He is still good". Not to mention that the book also doubles as a guided devotional. She prompts you to dig deeper and answer thought-provoking and soul-searching questions. I have gifted this book to many hurting women.
My next book is a precious gem that was gifted to me by a dear friend during one of the most difficult trials of my life. The book is called Contentment by Lydia Brownback. It is labeled as an on-the-go devotional. I really enjoy small reads like this as a busy mom. They are quick, easy, and cut straight to the heart. Most importantly, Lydia points out how we can find real contentment in whatever situation the Lord places us in. She also shows how every situation isn't just happenstance, but sovereignly designed by our Creator. This book helped me to find pure joy and contentment in the midst of my trials.
Enjoy this brief quote from the book, "Contentment in the valleys comes when we stop fighting so hard to climb out. God is the one who leads us into the valleys, and he will lead us back out in His time."
Since a lot of my struggles can come from striving to be a godly wife and mother, an excellent book that addresses these challenges is by Kimm Crandall titled, Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood. The foreward is by Elyse Fitzpatrick and was published by Tim Challies' publishing company, Cruciform Press.
Kimm hits dead on a lot of our struggles as moms, from comparing ourselves to others, meeting false expectations from ourselves or others, and how we think our performance dictates our worth. She challenges us to look to the gospel. I can't hear that enough as a mom aiming to please the Lord, but who falls short every day.
As an author, I love to write, but I like to read even more. I tend to grab a good book and curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee when I need a little pick me up. What about you? What do you do when you're down in the dumps. What are some of your favorite books?
If you are still looking for other great books about encouragement, then check out my newest book Goodbye Workplace. Hello Family! It will give you the motivation to stay the course as an at-home-mom or encourage, equip, and enlighten you to leave to the workplace if you're a working mom. Click here to get it now!
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For His Glory,