The book drew me, beckoned to me, really, from the bookshelves at Barnes + Noble. I was looking for a gift for my sister, and it wasn’t what I was searching for. But something about it spoke to me. Maybe because the title and theme speaks to something I continue to struggle with and seem to learn over and over again with God: Every Bitter Thing is Sweet.
How can every bitter thing be sweet? Truly, can we say every bitter thing? Can we really taste the goodness of God in our darkest of days and trials? Will God hold up under the weight of that, under the weight of our darkest questions and scrutiny?
Sara Hagerty is familiar with bitter trial and circumstance. In this precious book, she explains some of her story, her struggles in early marriage, her struggles for many years with infertility. Her struggle with a God who spoke to her and gave her a vision of a child toddling across her bedspread, and then closed her womb to this possiblity. The struggles through multiple foreign adoptions and the seemingly endless setbacks and disappointments. And all the way, she traces the glory of God shining brilliant in these darkest moments.
In her book she reveals how God took her, a child who believed in a God whose love was best displayed in blessing, and transformed her into a desperately hungry soul. She writes her story of encountering a God who cares to carve out spaces in the soul, empty, hungering spaces that He can fill.
“A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb,
But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”
What if our places of discontent and brokenheartedness, what if we discovered that these places are the very holy + sacred ground of God’s deepest riches, the “treasure of darkness” that Isaiah 45:3 talks about?
Here’s a little excerpt from the first chapter:
“The Bible resting on my chair showed wear–how could it not? My friend, my best friend in this hour, was the Author. The book I’d once used to plan youth ministry talks, the book I’d once used to quote pithy sayings and to confirm opinions I’d already formed, that book had found its way into my deep.
The God behind it was proving Himself to be fundamentally different than what I’d supposed for at least a decade, maybe more. But I was finding Him. In the places I had feared most and spent a lifetime avoiding, He was meeting me. My worst, my very worst moments were getting rewritten without circumstances changing. I was getting acquainted with the kind of deep satisfaction that bad news can’t shake. He was showing me Himself as strong enough. He was letting me hide in Him, letting me find a safe place.
And so I cradled my midnight questions while mamas cradled their babies, and I let God’s psalms tell me He cradled the answer in Himself. I felt forgotten, but I heard God speak that He had not left me. I felt weak, but I heard Him promise an overshadowing. I felt anxious that my constant fumblings would annoy Him, but I heard Him say He delighted in me.
And I felt hungry.
I wasn’t this hungry when God was a distant coach, forcing me to perform.
I wasn’t this hungry when I had a life easily explained, easily predicted.
I wasn’t this hungry when everyone understood me.
Pain had created space. Space to want more. Space to taste a sense of being alive. An alive that would grow to be my favorite kind of alive: secret, hidden to all eyes but mine and those nearest to me.
This had to be the hope of a lifetime, Him and Him alone.”
If you’ve ever wondered about this God, this mysterious God who both gives and takes away, and how anyone can love a God who gives the strange gifts of hardship and hunger at times, you would be helped to read Sara’s story.
If you’ve ever battled fiercely with hard circumstances and painful seasons and have wondered how to make sense of it all, you would be helped to read Sara’s story.
Essentially, if you’ve ever lived the human experience, you would find sweet company in Sara’s poetic prose.
Triumphant, encouraging, beautifully crafted. Sara Hagerty not only shares with you her journey to a deeper hunger for God, she stirs up your own hunger, too. I highly recommend it!
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Book Look Bloggers sent me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to give a favorable review and the opinions expressed are my own.