We could all use an infusion of hope right now. Life is not what we expected it would look like in April 2020, and some of us are facing devastating realities of losing loved ones, jobs, and more. Everyone is experiencing this crisis in her own way, but I think most of us can agree that our ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel is liable to change day to day or hour to hour.
What’s been helping me stay positive is remembering the times in the past that God has provided for me and spending time and energy remembering when He’s done the same for others. One such story is that told in Awful Beautiful Life: When God Shows Up in the Midst of Tragedy by Becky Powell and Katherine Reay.
In 2013, Becky Powell was faced with a situation that many will find difficult to even fathom: her husband had taken his own life, leaving almost a hundred creditors without the millions of dollars he’d borrowed from them over time. Becky knew nothing of any of these debts, nor did she realize her husband had reached such a breaking point.
But what she did know, right from the start, is that God would be with her and her family every step of the way as they learned how to survive this.
Becky resolved to pay everyone back in full, which seemed impossible, and really isn’t the way this sort of situation is typically handled. But she was insistent and determined. Her sense of justice and righteousness isn’t something we often see praised in our media. This might have been my favorite element of the book. It was refreshing to witness her steadfast commitment to these virtues, even as things got increasingly difficult.
Spoiler alert, this story has, as much as it could, a happy ending, but it’s not altogether a happy journey. There is plenty of fear, setbacks, and suffering. But on every page, there is also strong faith, Becky’s grace-filled hope — rooted in daily Scripture reading — that God would not leave her and her family alone.
As the subtitle suggests, God “shows up” over and over again in people who care for Becky and her children, in her legal team, and in people in her community who choose not to discuss Becky’s situation with media looking for a headline. He shows up in the country music that soothes Becky each night (and gives the book its title). He shows up in the painful decisions she is able to make because of her trust in Him.
I was initially drawn to this book because of its co-author, Katherine Reay. I love Reay’s novels, all of which carry some connection to classic literature, leaning heavily on Jane Austen allusions. She tells her stories with grace and humor, and I tend to save them for things like vacations and school breaks, because I know that once I start, I won’t be able to put them down. Here, too Reay’s writing is easy to read and moves the story along well, balancing the details of the situation with the emotional and spiritual experience of living through it.
Have you read Awful Beautiful Life or another book like it? How did it inspire the virtue of hope in you? Let me know in the comments!
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Copyright 2020 Lindsay Schlegel