Reading that Reminds Us of Real Pain

If you know me at all, you know I like to read. Other than my daily Bible reading, I try to have two or three books going all the time. [If you want to see a list of all the books I have read so far this year, here’s a link.]

As with anything else, however, it can become easy to read in an “echo chamber.” In other words, we may be reading good material, but, too often, we only read things that we already agree with or that we know are going to make us feel good and uplift us.

Recently, however, I have finished two books that truly shook me. They were on two different subjects but were connected in that they both reminded me of real pain that people have gone through in the past. I simpy want to share them with you today.

Witness to the Holocaust

The first is a book that I have owned for many years, but I had never read all the way through. Witness to the Holocaust

But I am so glad I read it. It hurt to read. At times, no exaggeration, I was nauseated reading it. A couple of times, I struggled to sleep just because of the images in my head. Why put myself through that? Because I needed to! I needed to be reminded of how that awful event came about, and I needed to be reminded of just how horrific the suffering was. I needed to be reminded of just how depraved sinful mankind really can become.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

The second book was far shorter, but just as impactful. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass only takes a couple of hours to read, but it will open your eyes to the harrowing realities of slavery in American history. Douglass (which, by the way, was a name he chose as he started to come out of slavery) was a highly intelligent man, but this book will cause you to realize the price he paid just to know how to read and write.

The descriptions of beatings and other awful acts (some to Douglass and some to other slaves) will, hopefully, make you both angry and sad. What stood out to me as I read this short volume, though, was the constant struggle in the thinking of Douglass of “do I want to be free or is it even worth it?” The owners of these slaves would do just enough to make them question whether or not they wanted to be free, and that psychological back-and-forth is both fascinating and frightening.

I am a Caucasian. I’m sure that, if I went back far enough in my family’s history, I could find someone in some place who suffered as a slave. But to be reminded that, as a nation, we are not that far removed from this awful practice is something I need to be reminded of.


I challenge all of us to read a lot, but I also challenge us all to read things that cause us to think and cause us to remember the depths of evil and sin, so that we do not allow these things to even have a toe-hold on our thinking ever again.

(Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to read something about Philippians. I need some joy in my life!)

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn




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