When Grace Makes A Surprise Visit: A Review of Birthed

When Grace Makes A Surprise Visit: A Review of Birthed December 6, 2016

I’m a fertile myrtle, so I didn’t think I’d connect with a book about infertility. But like I so often am when it comes to the way God might work in my life, I was wrong.


I sat down to read Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility convinced I would have nothing in common with author Elizabeth Hagan. After all, both my children were conceived after three stress-less months of trying, practically on schedule. They were born pretty much exactly when we wanted them to be — spring and summer, so I could get out of the house and go for walks with them. Infertility and it’s struggles has never been a blip on my radar.

birthed cover

God’s grace, on the other hand, is something I’m infinitely familiar with (even though I often forget about it in the middle of my temper tantrums). And the way He likes to wrap it up with big red bows and drop it off as a big surprise is something that’s happened to me more than once.


And that’s what this book is actually about — it’s about those little love notes from God that can set our lives on a completely different path than the one we’d imagined, the one we’d planned for, the one — dare I say it — we idolized.


Because if I’m honest, that’s what my temper tantrums are, usually. The smashing of my heart-idols; the breaking to bits of all the big plans I’ve made that only reflect my tiny little self, when God has so much more he wants to do with me and for me.


That’s the story that Elizabeth Hagan has actually written; infertility was just the vehicle God used to deliver His grace. But it could be anything we each are laboring over and trying to birth: a marriage, a business, a degree, a debt-free life — any of those identifiers you’ve come to believe were yours. Any of those tiny little things we’ve built into huge altars in our hearts, the things that, when we have lost them (or when they simply don’t arrive), lead us to prostrate ourselves on the floor, wasting the blessing of our tears on the carpet.


Hagan’s narrative is familiar and easy to read, like sitting down with an old friend over a glass of wine, catching up on — what’s it been, a few years now? It’s intimate and confessional with peripheral characters that bring life to the story (not to mention a great re-write of the lyrics to Blessed Assurance).


But most important here is the experience of communion with the presumably damned. If you’ve ever gotten to that dark place where you become certain that God hates you — that cold, cold vacuum where once God was, and now He is not — you will relate to this book. It doesn’t matter what you hoped for. All that matters is that you have been brought to that place where you are certain God is an evil trickster. If you’ve been there, this is a book you can relate to. And if you stuck it out through a belief that must be supernatural because it surely didn’t come from you, and found on the other side of that big empty hole the grace of God in all His goodness, in all his surprises, then this book will be the confirmation you no longer need.


But you should read it anyway.


And hey — if you want to hear from Elizabeth Hagan live, you can! She’s doing a live event on December 13th, at 8pm EST. You can check that out here.



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  • jekylldoc

    Apparently this journey, through disappointment and even despair, is one that God means us to go on. It is terribly disorienting, because the culture of pop Christianity often promotes a theology of Special Blessing for Members (the clearest cases being Prosperity Gospel). That is often how we are taught to get to know God, and even how we know God exists.

    I am a bit flummoxed about it. Many people get very wrapped up in this type of Special Blessing relationship, and it does convey the love and care of God, even if in distorted and unrealistic terms. The theology that expresses what things are like on the other side of the journey, moderate and nuanced, also leaves newcomers or outsiders cold. Its a bit like Old Testament and New Testament: people are attracted by being named “Chosen People”, but they have to go through Exile or bear the Cross to find themselves in the genuine relationship.