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Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things Hardcover – October 7, 2014
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About the Author
Sara Hagerty is the author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, a wife to Nate, and a mother of six, including four children adopted from Africa and one toddler who’s found his voice amid them all. After almost a decade of Christian life, she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her. His Word and His whisper took on new shape and form to her in the dark. Sara writes regularly about life delays, finding God in the unlikely, motherhood, marriage, and adoption at www.SaraHagertyAuthor.com.
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This book takes you by the hand and won’t let go until you accompany the author on her journey. On your own journey that will remake you. In a good way. Although it is about the author’s life and her struggle with infertility, it really doesn’t matter if you can relate to this or not. I could not relate at all. What matters is if you can relate to wondering if God is good to YOU or not. What matters is if you can relate to wondering why others are healed and you are not. What matters is if you sometimes wonder if you have been overlooked by God. If you want to taste of His goodness. If you just want to know Him better. If you are hungry for Him.
In my case, this book pulled my heart out of my chest and reshaped it. I re-saw my life in hindsight and reimagined God’s purposes. I tasted the sweetness in how God has always had His hand in my life and has brought me to here. The author achieves this in each of her reader’s lives simply by storytelling—stories about her life and her adopted children, but in a way that you will be able to relate to no matter what your life circumstance. It shows how God worked in her life in astonishing ways.
The book is organized in chapters that build to a crescendo in the last chapter. Each chapter is followed by Scripture verses from the Bible “For Your Continued Pursuit”. I plan to reread this book and journal the different verses as it will deepen my reading experience. This is a book that I have heavily highlighted and filled with notes, one that I will read again and again and quote from extensively; it is a book I “worked” rather than read, and it was more than worth it.
The writing style is beautiful, sensual, lyrical…the author has a way of writing about the deepest spiritual things. I was able to grasp the experience of “intimacy with Jesus” in a whole new way that is hard to put into words. As someone who has reviewed thousands of books, I am lost to find the words to adequately describe this one in order to convey to you how this book changed me. I have a new sense of my Father God and of being His child. I have a new perspective on my chronic physical pain condition and a childhood of physical and emotional abuse.
I want to share a couple of quotes here so that you can experience her writing style:
“God comes in the mundane and shifts us, slightly and subtly. Suddenly and slowly, it is following Him in the unseen that feels most normal.” When you come across this in line in context in the text it makes so much sense; you GET the paradox of “suddenly” and “slowly”. You read it and you think and you cry and you see how God is doing that in your life too.
“I let adoration fill the gap between when God wildly meets my hunger and when hunger just feels like an empty cry for help.” Again, when read in context in the text you feel this and know it and let God do it in your life too. It moves you to a new place.
I keep writing this review, yet I still feel as though I can’t find the right words. Quoting the author, this book “…found its way into my deep…” and also helped me to experience the Bible in a more personal way. I didn’t just read the book; I explored it. I contemplated on rich sentences and paradoxical concepts. I list it sink into my heart. I let it mentor me in my relationship with the Lord so that I could be with Him in a fresh, new more intimate way that I was so hungry for and didn’t even know it.
One of the most beautiful things about this book is that yes, the author was barren, but then… God restored her heart to a new level and then… He restored her more through her adopted kids AS He restored them and then… He restores us as readers AS He restores the adopted kids and the author. God grabs our hand and brings us along on this journey. This is so hard to describe but if you read the book you will be grateful to the author forever, appreciate God’s purposes in the lives of the precious adopted children, and be most grateful that you got to know…you got to come along…you got to not be left out on a beautiful journey.
I would recommend this for a Christian audience primarily, especially for mature Christians. It has deep, intense themes. For me it was a very emotional read. I’d have to stop and cry and continually reread passages because they affected me so deeply.
Since 1975 my favorite book has been Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek by Annie Dillard, and it is now this one.
Most highly recommended.
I was wrong. Yes, infertility is part of Sara's story, and she draws from that in places throughout this book, but she does what every good author does: uses her experiences to impact more universal truths. As I read, it felt like those sacred moments late at night with your best friend when you whisper your deepest hurts and she not only validates them but is able to say, "Me too." If she didn't lay herself so bare, I think lines like "Every single dark day was an invitation" (pg. 85) would have felt like an easy quip or a dismissive platitude. As she reveals where "pain had created space" for her, for her children adopted from places afar, for their business understanding... I realized places in me in which God has been creating space with pain. And I've been so focused on the pain that I've been missing out on the space.
Unlike Sara, my adult years haven't been times of waiting and hope deferred and such. They've been rolling, non-stop, barely enough time to breathe, breakneck paced days and weeks and years, in which God brought me into a new role of wife in a new town with a new job and no friends but my husband and, in less than a year, pregnant with our first child while the first friends we told gasped at how soon we were becoming parents and stammered, "Did you mean to?!?" Now, eight years and five children (one by birth and four by adoption, including three from Uganda like two of Sara's children) and a half dozen special needs diagnoses later, this book made me pause. I don't think I've paused like this in a decade. This stirring discontent that's been simmering, especially since our six week stint in Uganda last fall, has been hard to identify until Sara gave words to it in describing her own God-given journey: pain is creating a space. The loneliness Sara too has felt in parenting children with such loss, such broken glass, such trauma in their past... that too is creating a space for God to do glorious work.
Now that I've closed the book for the first time, having gobbled it down, I'm going to slowly, sweetly, meticulously savor it with a second reading, treating it more as a devotional resource as I pray through the stirrings in my own heart and explore the 20 or so verses listed at the end of each chapter. And I look forward to meeting God in that space He's created and remembering again what it's like to rest in Him even when my circumstances seem anything but restful.