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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review: "Hannah's Hope"

AUTHOR: Jennifer Saake
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005, (224 pages).
Reviewed by: Conrade Yap

Honest. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. These words capture the essence of the mood of the book. Jennifer Saake shares her struggles in this book about simply trying to be a mother. For some mothers, conceiving a child looks easy, even though one is not necessarily in the 18-23 years old range. For others, adopting a child seems like a breeze. For some who have the nightmare of miscarriages are mercifully limited to one. Not Saake. On all three fronts, the author harbours painful feelings about being a 'failure' in childbearing, adopting, and successfully carrying a child to full-term.

In utter despair, Saake who once dreamed of having 8 kids, finds solace in the biblical life of Hannah, who cries out to God constantly for comfort, for understanding, and for hope. She describes her struggles with infertility that has often resulted in anger and bitterness. Moreover, she is that normal Christian girl, who says her prayers, read her Bible, do good works, and remains faithful to her husband. The thought of infertility as a form of 'punishment' from God seems unbearable. Along with her three miscarriages, and two adoption failures, life seems cruel to this young woman of God. Thankfully, the book does not end up becoming an emotional obituary page of her struggles. It is filled with frequent glimpses of hope, how Saake clings on the God in her most trying moments. It is filled with love that she has received. It is filled with lots of biblical references on how God has held on to her.

My Comments
I admit that I am moved by Saake's story. Her journey to eventually having two healthy children, makes me appreciate more of my children. It makes me appreciate my wife more, and not to take pregnancy for granted. The book makes me aware of some of the damage even good Christian people can unwittingly cause. Things like insensitive phrases to suffering people to "snap out of it." Things like irritating words such as:
  • "I understand." (How can one truly understand?)
  • "Things will get better. Don't worry." (How do you know? Are you God?)
  • "I'm afraid to call you lest you are upset." (Why not just ask?)
  • "Is God punishing you?" (hurtful and smacks of self-righteousness)
The part that I particularly find helpful is the section on "Burden Bearers." In an age where it is so easy to say "I'm struggling with you," the practicing of it is not that simple. I am glad Saake shows the way, by being true and honest with herself, with God, and with the reader.   It can be a convenient Bible study guide. Each chapter begins with Scripture references, a sharing from Saake's painful past, an exhortation to hope in God, and some questions to ponder on faith and contemplation. What I particularly like is how Saake weaves her life by being honest to God in her struggles, as well as her intentionality in obeying the Word of God in her heart. She possesses a profound understanding of suffering and pain. This makes her sharing particularly meaningful. Those struggling with issues of miscarriages, infertility, or adoption difficulties, will find much comfort and hope in these pages. While on one hand, one perceives a life of faith as challenging, it is also rewarding too, seeing how one life has been used to bless so many, including hers. You can read more about Jennifer at www.jennifer.saake.biz and her prayer ministry here.

Reading this book brings to mind the following phrase I saw on TV last night.

"Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand." (Patti Smith)

This book is Saake's way of extending her hand.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been supplied to me free by NavPress publisher without any obligation for a positive review. The opinions expressed above are freely mine.

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