When You Don’t Like Your Story (Thomas Nelson, 2021)
Sharon Jaynes penned her latest book, When You Don’t Like Your Story: What If Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories? this past year. Previously, Sharon served as vice president and radio cohost at Proverbs 31 Ministries. Today she follows her calling as a devotional writer and author. Certainly, everyone loves a good story. But not necessarily their own story – at least certain parts. Yet, it’s possible to wrest redemption from the jaws of brokenness. For God loves to turn those unwanted pages into stunning narratives of victory. In the process, our pain serves as a portal of God’s grace.
However, our real enemy, the devil, wants us to believe that God’s holding out on us. Therefore, Sharon observes, the devil’s more than happy to tell us what we don’t have. Because the devil speaks the language of restriction, twisting God’s words so we feel dissatisfied. Consequently, the author cautions, never modify God’s truth to conform to your own common sense. Instead, let faith fill in the gaps you question. Let the full assurance of God’s goodness seal up what you do not understand. Whether you recognize it or not, God’s always working. There is always a meanwhile that makes your pain worthwhile.
But, Sharon points out, no escalator glides you to holiness. Instead, you must ascend the stairway of struggle. As you ascend, though, you must guard against ending up bitterly stuck. Although the past may color your present, it no longer controls it. So, there comes a point where you need to stop plowing or replowing and start planting. God desires that you be fruitful in your suffering. That your story gives hope that life can be different on the other side of pain. As a result, Christ’s resurrection power transforms your story into a beacon of hope. Most significantly, this biblical hope is not a wish. Rather, it’s a certainty that our ultimate future rests in God’s hands.
Sharing our stories with others makes us relatable. While sharing what God did with our dirt makes Him visible. And each of our stories reflects something unique and special about God’s character and the way He works in the lives of His people. However, if you choose not to speak up, God moves on to someone else who will. Thus, you miss the blessing. When you don’t like your story and feel you’ve made a mess of your life, you try to write yourself out of the story. Yet, God keeps writing your name back into the story.
Finally, Sharon exhorts us to view pain as a gift for growing rather than a burden to bear. Struggles help remove the fluff from our faith and make it rock hard. Most of all, Sharon underscores, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. Today, tomorrow, and each day that follows. The author concludes:
“Until you cross over from this life into the next, the pen is still in God’s hand. The amazing thing is that God allows us to participate in the writing. He gives us choices; we make decisions. . . . Each storyline is meant to be one of victorious celebration as we are refined like gold.”