Friday, October 2, 2020

Literary Friday: Breathe Again

 




Happy Literary Friday!  Today I'm sharing a very helpful Christian memoir: Breathe Again by Stacy Henagan.  Please read the excerpt at the bottom of the post.

What Do You Do When It Seems God Hasn’t Come Through for You?

When the miracle-working God whom Pastor Stacy Henagan loved and served did not answer the prayers on behalf of her terminally ill one-year-old daughter as expected, she was left crushed with grief and struggling to understand.

  • How could a loving God allow this to happen?
  • What do you do when it seems God has let you down?
  • Is God trustworthy?

Rather than choosing to remain in overwhelming pain and doubt, Stacy emerged with a much greater belief that God is good and trustworthy, even when we don’t think His plans make sense.



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My Review:

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has suffered loss or disappointment (haven't we all!), and, as a result, feel as if God has abandoned or forsaken them.  Stacy Henagan suffered the loss of her daughter, Haven, when Haven was only a year old.  I can't even imagine such pain or grief.  How can a person, even a person of faith rebound?  Stacy explains how to return to faith and joy even after life has broken your heart.

Although each chapter in the book is helpful and inspiring, the chapter on "Dealing With Disappointment" toward the end of the book is by far the most helpful because it's a reminder of how we are often disappointed when we've prayed our hearts out and done everything in our power, yet the outcome wasn't what we'd hoped for: Our circumstances remained the same.  Prayer doesn't always change our circumstances how we want it to, but it will change us if we give God the opportunity to work in our lives.  The interesting point Stacy makes in this chapter is our reaction to disappointment: We become disappointed in God, then we feel shame because a Christian shouldn't feel this way; then we're fearful because of God's wrath; then we make the mistake to think we're the only Christians on the planet who've felt this way; and then the most dangerous of all: denial.  Stacy gives good tips on how to deal with disappointment before it shifts into bitterness.  This heart state of bitterness is dangerous to Christians because it can allow for the enemy's lies about God to take root and grow.

My favorite quote from the book is this one:

"I have learned from experience that it takes more mental and emotional energy to stay in a place of defeat than it does to trust Jesus."

This is an important lesson for us all, especially in these uncertain, stressful times.  This book would be a great addition to your home library and your church's library.  




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Disclosure:  Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me in this tour!  I received a free copy of Breathe Again from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.



Excerpt from Breathe Again
From Page 24
Inhaling Trust, Exhaling Fear

In Psalm 23 King David made the most stunning confession about how to trust God when fear is standing in the way: 

Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near. You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit; you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows. So why would I fear the future? For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life. Then afterward, when my life is through, I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you! 

We know from Scripture that David experienced more evil than most of us would know in three lifetimes. He buried several children, was betrayed by his spiritual father and sold out by his own son, faced the constant threat of murder, and was rejected by those he thought loved him. That is a lot for one man to handle. If there had been professional counseling in his day, his bill would have been astronomical. Yet even as he described walking through a dark and dangerous valley, he also told evil, “I will not fear you.” Remarkable. 

I don’t believe for one minute that David frolicked through his dark valley making dandelion necklaces without a care in the world. He would have had to be superhuman to respond to pain without fear, and we know from reading of his mistakes that he was a real person with human tendencies just like the rest of us. I think he simply chose to keep walking through the valley and believe in God’s faithfulness, even with the feeling of fear nipping at his heels. 

That’s not to say David was double-minded. I’m not sure where we got the idea that fear and trust won’t ever coexist. In fact, I think this is where many of us get off track. We stop in the valley, waiting for fear to leave before we continue. But if we’re waiting for the confidence to take the next step unafraid, we might as well pour concrete around our feet, because there are times when we must walk forward even in fear. 

Isn’t this the ultimate act of trust? When I took my leap of faith to trust God with Haven’s illness, I was shaking in my shoes. But to me, that was trust. It was saying yes to God in the face of fear. And I would learn that the feeling of courage met me after I jumped, when I realized God was going to catch me. 

David had a revelation while dining at God’s table: his greatest pain couldn’t destroy him if God was with him, even though it sure felt like it would at times. And no matter what frightening shadows the valley cast, David knew God’s presence was close, leading him on the path to victory. Our lives hold this same truth. 

Why was David so confident that God was with him? Because God’s goodness and mercy had been in pursuit of him every moment of every hour of every day of his life. For courage to move forward, David looked to his past and remembered what the Lord had done for him. 

Maybe that’s a helpful practice for all of us who are learning to trust. I try to make it a habit to live in the present. But is it possible that we spend too little time remembering God’s goodness in our past? 

That’s what I did that night in Haven’s hospital room. In the hush of the late evening hour, I practiced inhaling trust and exhaling fear by shifting my focus to God’s faithfulness in my yesterdays. I brought to mind the time He had spared my life in a car accident when I was fifteen. The way His tender touch felt in my heart during intimate times of worship. The miraculous way He had provided our home, which is a crazy story I’d love to tell you sometime. I recalled His past goodness until hope seeped its way into my fear for the future. I’m not saying that all the fear disappeared, but hope forced it to loosen its grip. 

The sooner we practice trust, the sooner we walk in peace. I had no idea how things would end for us, but I had experienced enough of Jesus to know that He had proven Himself trustworthy.

{Taken from Breathe Again by Stacy Henagan Copyright ©2020 by Emanate Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.}


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill




2 comments

  1. I agree, this would be a tremendous resource in a church library! Sometimes we all need some of these chapters even without going through this kind of loss. Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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  2. Thank you so much for this beautiful and detailed review. I appreciate you! I hope the book was a source of encouragement for you!

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