EVERY BITTER THING IS SWEET : A REVIEW
Though one of the coldest we have had in years, nearly every day last winter I found myself hiking among the barren trees in a park near our home. Up I would climb along that carefully crafted trail, each time stopping at the very same bench. Worrying less about stopping my physical momentum and more about keeping the momentum of an expectant heart, I would sit. It was less a season of bitterness and despair, and more a season of hope. I would listen to the sounds of the trees and the dead leaves as they glided over the mountain, across the path and down into the valley. I would breathe in the cold air as my hands would find warmth in the pocket of my winter coat. I would look out to landscape that seemed lifeless. It felt familiar. Secure. A landscape that was made to embrace a current truth while holding on the hope of what lay under that frozen ground.
I don’t claim to hear clearly from God often, but these days, last winter, were different. “Spring is coming.” It seemed so clear.
As I poured over the pages of “Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet” by Sara Hagerty I found a story that, though I wouldn’t choose to relate to if I had the choice, spoke so gently words of strength, perseverance, and hope. The eternal kind. That kind that can only be found in Jesus. But it wasn’t without brutal moments of vulnerability and honesty through a journey that we could all likely relate to. Sara is a true fellow traveler. And though you may not be encountering the kind of barrenness that literally leaves a womb empty, living long enough will produce the kind of winter where the frozen ground exists long after that flowers have bloomed.
“A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”
Part of me wants to share every underlined, ah-ha, soul enriching moment of the book, but that’s not the point. After all, I underlined more than I left blank. You need to read this for yourself. But this line, it is as beautifully poetic as it is ironic. And it’s how, as Christians, we live much of our lives. We spend it striving, reaching, achieving and moving on to the next. We think the last thing has built us and the next thing will fix us, all the while missing the One who created us and wants us above all else.
I journeyed through this book, much of it in tears, gripping to her story. Oh the power of our story. I felt a kindred spirit in these pages. The kind where I would find myself saying, “me too.” The kind that made me realize that our prayers are answered, even if delayed, or perhaps not on this side of heaven. It made me ask, “even if, would I still love God?” The kind where if we aren’t paying attention, we just may miss what God is speaking. The kind where, even on the hardest of days, He is near. He knows us, and He loves us. The kind where in our seeking there is finding, but it may not be in our timing. I hate that one.
I ran across a quote today whose timing seemed too impeccable to share.
Beloved, God’s promises can never fail to be accomplished, and those who patiently wait can never be disappointed, for a believing faith leads to realization. – Lettie B. Cowman
If you’re a Bible believing Christian you have said a thousand times that His work has already been finished. And it has! But we are running these races. Some of which paths we choose and many of which we don’t. As many of which that cause pain and confusion. But as Sara so graciously writes, we find God in the bitter. For every bitter thing is sweet.
I wish I could tell you that spring did indeed come. In one sense it did. The ground thawed and the flowers bloomed. I’ve sensed God in ways I haven’t before. But my spring, the way I desire it, has remained much the way I did sitting atop that mountain that I was sure was to come to pass.
No matter the journey you are on, I believe you can relate to this book. Sara shares her life in an honest way that will leave you challenged and yet hopeful. I know these words have marked my soul. Thank you Sara for the sharing your story.
You can purchase her book here. You won’t be disappointed.