Extraordinary Books: Why, O God? Suffering and Disability in the Bible and Church

I don’t recall how I heard of this book, but when I saw the title I felt compelled to get a copy. You don’t have to live long in the culture of the extraordinary to begin to wonder of there’s a reason behind the disability in your life. I thought about it, talked about, prayed about, and read about it, perhaps you’re curious too.

The foreword for “Why, O God?” was written by Randy Alcorn so it had instant credibility. Alcorn has a couple of books on the Nobody’s Normal bookshelf: Deadline, Deception, and Wait Until Then. He’s a renown theologian and prolific writer. If you really want to dive deep into the question of disability and suffering in the world I would suggest his book “If God is Good.” I trust him and his work completely.

Bookended with chapters penned by Joni Eareckson Tada, “Why, O God?” offers a survey of disability and suffering from every book of the Bible, a few chapters dealing with the ethical treatment of those with disabilities, and some that deal with the philosophical underpinnings of how our culture currently views those who suffer. The end of the book is the most practical and where I found the most helpful reading. With chapters written by PhD’s, MD’s, college professors, and directors of national disability research groups you will find insightful tips for befriending people with all variety of disability. The chapter titled Pastoral Care and Disability is worth the price of the book by itself. And pastoral care can be done by any of us,

Pastoral care simply means tending to the needs of another person with a motivation and manner that are rooted in biblical theology and love for the Lord Jesus. Pastoral care may be performed by any believer, regardless of office.

The chapter explores realities about suffering, causes, helpful ways to support and encourage those that have them, and even helpful ways to support and encourage those who care for the disabled. I have more underlined passages in this chapter than any other. Here are just a few:

  • The caregiver who helps a disabled person achieve control over some area of life will help that individual have a greater sense of self-worth and will help decrease frustrations that come with helplessness.
  • Of the core needs for people who are suffering with disabilities, relational challenges, though not immediately obvious, present significant needs to be met primarily through friendship.
  • The key is envisioning the world from the perspective of the mobility-impaired individual and moving to provide a proper level of assistance.

I feel like I’m doing the book a disservice to include so little of its rich depth, but hopefully you are enticed to read further. If the title of the book, Why, O God?, resonates within you I highly recommend picking it up. By the way, you can read one of my favorite excerpts from the book over at Discovering Writing – Poetic Prose: Joni Eareckson Tada


  1. Thanks for your review of the book. I did not write anything in it but did the drawings for the sections and it has really been a priviledge to see what God is doing with this book. I pray we see the church awaken to the disabled to what we can learned FROM THEM and to a deeper sense of the Body of Christ.

    1. Glad to hear from you, Dawn. You drawing is the first thing my sons see when they leave their bedroom every day. I hope more read the book and see your work, not to mention all your paintings. Narnia fans, Dawn has some cool paintings inspired by Aslan and the world of Narnia. http://www.dawnwatersbaker.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s