Disclaimer; I was given this book in exchange for a review on NetGalley.
From the blurb:
“In a life full of highs and lows, choice and challenges, the words ‘and yet’ can change everything. We are surrounded by darkness and yet there is light. We feel we are lacking and yet God provides. We are broken and bruised and yet there is hope.”
The topic of lament feels particularly appropriate right now, it’s been a very hard few years and I think the world is now crying out. Lament is needed. But lament and joy are not opposites, they come together, and in this book Newham explores biblical lament and how we can use it in our lives.
The book is intended as a Lent book for 2022, but it was not split in a way that made it necessary to read it over an extended period of time, in fact I devoured it in a few days.
”Particularly in the west, we use joy and happiness interchangeably and so we’ve come to expect ease and comfort in life as a sign of our faith.”
The book was filled with the author’s personal experiences of lamenting through grief and mental illness, but it’s also filled with links back to the Bible and how different people in the Bible experienced times of lament, from Jacob wrestling with God, to Mary waiting and accepting her fate as the mother of Jesus.
The book is split into 6 sections based around the liturgical year: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter and Ordinary Time again. Each section ends with some questions for reflection which would be great as part of a group study.
Newham talks with real experience about how we shouldn’t avoid hard times but lean into them, saying “Real joy doesn’t seek to eliminate discomfort or pain, but faces it with honesty. ”. I’d never really thought about how joy is different to happiness, but I feel like this book really dived into that in a way that completely opened my eyes.
I think the author wrote with such warmth and honesty about how we can experience joy even in the difficult times, and that really felt reassuring to me – I think this is the book that I’ve been needing for over 3 years. Ironically the author started writing this book before the first lockdown, and it feels like the timing was ordained as it feels more relevant than ever before.
I’ll finish off with one final quote which really stuck in my head and quite accurately sums up the book:
“Yet is the language of hoping against hope. It is believing that the new life of spring is hiding amongst what seems dead. It is the Creator of the world coming to save his world through a baby. It is that same Creator sending his beloved Son to die so that we may live.”
I would recommend this book to everyone after the last 18 months we’ve had, I think it will be a really useful resource for helping us to recover from the struggles and move forward with joy while bringing the pain to God and acknowledging it with lament.
It’s definitely a book I will be buying it so I can come back to it again and again.