Book Review: Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

51f2CkIM34LI was captivated by this cover from the first time I saw it online. It is simply gorgeous. The memoir inside is equally beautiful, and I’m so glad I read it.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God In All Things is Sarah Hagerty’s story of figuring out the challenges of adulthood. Existential questions about the nature of God, practical struggles with the constraints of new marriage, and then later, the pain of more than a decade of infertility. Hagerty is very open about some of these challenges, while others are veiled in metaphor. Her writing style is more artful than straightforward, but once you get used to it it carries you along like a series of gentle waves. And it takes you to some interesting places.

One of my favorite scenes is where she describes struggling to accept an enormous gift that has allowed her and her husband to buy a house that is far bigger than two people need. She’s embarrassed to live in such a big house, afraid that people will think they’ve abandoned God in favor of blatant materialism. She says this:

“I knew I didn’t deserve this [house]. I didn’t feel I could be trusted with it. But God wasn’t sitting back, fearful that I would suddenly cash in on this gift as a lifestyle and become a spendthrift instead of a fervent follower of Him. He wanted to show me Himself as a Father who gives gifts to His children. This scenario wasn’t setting me up for materialism; it was deconstructing my misconception of HIm as a tightfisted Father, someone who is concerned only with my getting life ‘right.'”

Such a profound distinction–I underlined this whole section and put stars up and down the page. Later, Hagerty and her husband adopt four children and the gift of that  big house makes total sense to everyone.

And this:

“I will not talk myself out of hope, hiding behind Scripture to support all my reasons for being ‘wise’ and ‘measured’ in my response to the not-yets in my life. Because when I choose hope, when I choose to engage in that awkward intimacy of believing that He might say no while asking expectantly that He say yes, He gets the most beautiful part of me.”

Good stuff.

Note: This book is very marriage-centric and might be a tough read if that is not your season of life right now. Put it on your TBR list for when you return from your honeymoon :)

To get to know Sarah, check out this talk she gave earlier this month at Changing Seasons.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.